Venture capital investors should steer away from investing in start-ups worth $1 billion or more, or "unicorns," John Backus said.
"A unicorn is a great company. A dragon is a great investment," the founder of New Atlantic Ventures told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Thursday. "Every unicorn is not a great investment."
More than 70 companies worldwide have reached "unicorn" status, according to The Wall Street Journal. "A lot of people want to be able to brag [by saying], 'I invested in Snapchat.' 'I invested in LinkedIn [for example],' " Backus said.
Backus added that success in the private market does not always translate into public market success. "The public markets value profitability. The private markets value growth and market dominance, and you have to translate that into profitability into the public markets, so there's a chasm these companies have to cross to be successful public companies," he said.
Because of this, Backus also said he believes start-ups will remain private longer nowadays. "There's a seismic shift going on right now in a transfer of value creation from the public markets to the private markets," he said. "You mentioned some of those great companies that went public 20 years ago (such as) Cisco, Amazon.com and Oracle. They have gone up 300x in the public markets. No one is saying Facebook is going to go 300x from a $100 billion IPO. "
—CNBC's Ari Levy contributed to this report.