What Slowdown? VCs Still Spending Like Drunken Sailors.
2022 is on track to be the second most active VC year ever, despite the narrative that says otherwise.
Big Technology is a weekly newsletter dedicated to covering the tech world with honest, nuanced reporting. Join the 35,000+ subscribers who tune into Big Technology for tech news without the spin. Here’s an easy way to subscribe:
The S&P 500 is in the gutter. The tech-heavy NASDAQ is doing worse. IPOs are struggling to clear their listing prices and some tech stocks — like Uber — are trading well below their private market valuations.
Yet venture capitalists are continuing to throw money at tech startups, and 2022 is shaping up to be the second most active year of VC funding on record, right behind 2021. The public market slowdown — which limits the returns these VCs can hope for — isn’t meaningfully stalling their activity, contrary to the popular narrative.
“Tech is still set up well,” said Kyle Stanford, a senior analyst at Pitchbook who covers venture capital. “We believe this will be the second-highest year for deal count. 3,600 funds have closed in the U.S. since 2018. All those funds will be in their investment cycle. So it should be a strong year.”
The key indicator that tech startups will continue to get funding is the high level of what Pitchbook calls “dry powder,” or money that VCs have raised but not yet spent. And there is a lot of dry powder lying around. At the end of 2021, the most active year for startup investing, VCs had $230 billion of dry power on hand, according to Pitchbook. And they’ve already raised another $106 billion this year. “Tons of capital is available for tech,” said Stanford.
If VCs don’t spend the money in their current funds, they will struggle to raise their next funds. So they’re still shelling out to startups, but in slightly different ways. The major, late-stage investments — like Stripe’s $600 million round last year — are effectively drying up. But seed funding, which comes at the earliest stages and could take around seven years before delivering a return, is booming. The second quarter of 2022, which we’re in now, has a chance to set the record for the highest number of seed deals ever, according to Stanford.
While big funds like Tiger Global and Softbank, which led many giant rounds, are on track to cut back, the startup market isn’t seeing a widespread valuation pullback. In fact, only 5% of deals in the first quarter this year were down rounds, or funding rounds with valuations beneath their previous valuation. Tiger Global, for its part, has still done 74 funding deals this year, per Pitchbook, despite being down 52% through May.
There’s still a decline in funding this year compared to the heady days of 2021. VCs put $330 billion into startups in the U.S. last year and they’re on track for $240 - $250 billion this year. That said, compared to pre-2021 levels, this is still a full-on spending spree.
While startups are having to show a bit more financial discipline to land deals, the deals are there. And they’re coming from everywhere, including many non-tradional funding sources. “Everyone and their father is an investor now,” said Stanford. That bodes well for startups and the broader tech industry, even as the public market shakes. As one VC put it in a text, "time to [actually] build."
How The World’s Top Businesses Research Their Decisions (sponsored)
As venture investing becomes more competitive and companies are being financed faster than ever, access to the right information may make or break the opportunity to fund the next unicorn.
Schneider Electric Ventures, the venture capital arm of the $65 billion global energy management business, invests in companies dedicated to making the world more decentralized, digital, and sustainable. For the last 5 years, they’ve been using AlphaSense to make better, more objective investment decisions by accessing historical data and future forecasts like investment banking reports to assess market growth and competitive risks in their diligence.
What Else I’m Reading
Alexa lets the dead speak. Covid apps are starting to profit. Yelp shut down some offices and said hybrid work is hell. Salesforce canceled all meetings. Mark Zuckerberg backed away from election integrity work. Chinese influencers must be certified to talk about medicine and law. The Ruble is the world’s best-performing currency. Things are just getting really weird. A recounting of pandemic horrors in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Number Of The Week
Quote Of The Week
“All record labels ask for are TikToks.”
Singer-songwriter FKA twigs the music industry’s thirst for TikTok content
Advertise with Big Technology?
Advertising with Big Technology gets your product, service, or cause in front of the tech world’s top decision-makers. To reach tens of thousands of plugged-in tech insiders, please reply to this email.
This Week on Big Technology Podcast: Anatomy Of A Market Meltdown — With Joe Weisenthal
Joe Weisenthal is co-host of Odd Lots and an editor at Bloomberg. He joins Big Technology Podcast to make sense of the cratering stock market, discussing the various factors that led to this moment and when it might turn around. Stay tuned for the second half where we go rapid-fire, analyzing a bunch of tech companies that are getting absolutely hammered, and some big-time investors as well. We end with a meditation on crypto.
Thanks again for reading. Please share Big Technology if you like it! Also, click the heart if you want to hand out love like the VCs give out cash.
Questions? Email me by responding to this email, or by writing email@example.com
News tips? Find me on Signal at 516-695-8680
See you next Thursday.