US & Canada VCs favor late-stage giants over upstarts in Q4

Startup buyers within the U.S. and Canada have been placing rather less cash to work throughout lots fewer offers in current months.

After three quarters of rising funding at early via progress stage, VCs have reduce within the fourth quarter of 2017. They participated in fewer offers and invested much less capital in comparison with each the prior quarter and year-ago durations, in keeping with Crunchbase projected information. (For a fast rationalization as to why this report now contains Canada, see the tip of the submit.)

Overall, buyers put a projected $21.9 billion into seed via know-how growth-stage rounds in This autumn, down from a projected $28.1 billion in Q3. Deal depend fell most markedly on the earliest phases, with the projected variety of closed rounds for seed-stage startups down by greater than one-third from the prior quarter.

The This autumn pullback contrasts with upbeat comparables for the total yr. For all of 2017, U.S. and Canadian startup buyers put a projected $89.four billion to work, up from $82 billion in all of 2016. A smattering of actually massive, largely late-stage rounds, boosted by SoftBank’s unprecedented spending spree, contributed to the upper annual totals.

Below, we have a look at a number of the key information factors for the just-ended quarter and yr, together with early and late-stage funding, spherical counts, M&A and IPOs.

Adding all of it up

First, we’ll have a look at funding totals for the quarter and full yr. Broadly, This autumn confirmed some pullback from Q3, however projected funding totals had been nonetheless up year-over-year throughout most phases for 2017.

Quarterly totals

Let’s begin with This autumn numbers. Out of the $21.9 billion in projected complete funding for the quarter, about 44 %, or $9.7 billion, went to late-stage offers.

Another 12 %, or $2.6 billion, went to technology-growth rounds, a newly redefined class for Crunchbase News that features most of the massive financings for established unicorns. (For stage definitions, see the underside of the submit.)

Early-stage (Series A and B) rounds, in the meantime, drew $eight.7 billion in This autumn, boosted by some unusually giant offers. Seed and angel offers, that are all the time the smallest in greenback phrases of any stage, introduced in a projected $886 million.

In the chart beneath, we have a look at funding totals by stage for This autumn and the previous 4 quarters. It ought to be famous from this that the notion of a This autumn pullback is relative. The third quarter of 2017 was a very sturdy one for early via growth-stage funding. So whereas This autumn was down quarter-over-quarter, it nonetheless ranked third for complete funding out of the previous 5 quarters.

As normal, a handful of huge offers made an outsized contribution to the quarterly totals.

At the late stage, the most important spherical was for Magic Leap, a developer of digital actuality show know-how that raised $500 million in Series D funding in October. Another massive funding recipient was Compass, a technology-driven actual property platform that secured $550 million in Series C financing through the quarter.

At the early stage, Grail, a developer of diagnostics for early most cancers detection, closed a $1.2 billion Series B spherical, the most important early-stage deal for This autumn. Following Grail was a $200 million Series B for augmented actuality sport developer Niantic, developer of the hit sport Pokémon GO.

Annual totals

Now let’s flip to the 2017 numbers. Total projected enterprise funding was up year-over-year at each stage, however rose probably the most at progress and late stage.

As beforehand famous, for all of 2017, U.S. and Canadian startup buyers put a projected $89.four billion to work, up from $82 billion in all of 2016.

From early to the technology-growth stage, funding totals had been up. Only seed-stage investments noticed a discount in year-over-year projected funding totals. Technology progress specifically noticed the very best annual complete in 4 years, pushed partly by SoftBank’s voracious dealmaking.

In the chart beneath, we have a look at funding totals at every stage for the previous 4 years. It’s noteworthy that whereas there have been fluctuations, totals throughout phases have ranged throughout the $80 billion to $90 billion vary over the previous three years.

Rounds get fewer and greater

The typical enterprise spherical has gotten greater, however fewer startups are managing to safe funding.

That’s the broad takeaway from Crunchbase projections for spherical counts at seed via progress stage. Here’s a breakdown of what we noticed.

Quarterly spherical counts

After three quarters of holding up at ranges comparatively flat, the variety of startups securing seed and enterprise funding fell sharply in This autumn of 2017.

Across all phases, Crunchbase tasks a complete of 1,880 firms will shut funding rounds in This autumn, down 28 % from Q3 and 21 % from the year-ago quarter.

The most pronounced decline was on the seed stage. The projected This autumn seed and angel spherical depend is simply 944, down greater than a 3rd from the prior quarter and down about 25 % from year-ago ranges.

Early-stage (Series A and B) can be down. Crunchbase tasks a complete of 742 early-stage rounds for This autumn of 2017, down about 20 % from the prior quarter and down about 13 % from year-ago ranges. Round counts had been additionally down at late and technology-growth stage, as evident within the chart beneath.

While it’s not totally clear what’s driving the pullback in seed and early-stage rounds, trade insiders have been documenting the drop for some time and raised a lot of prospects. Reasons embrace a cyclical investor backlash to inflated seed-stage valuations, rising choice amongst established buyers for later-stage and larger deals and a decline in funding for brand spanking new mobile app and SaaS-focused startups.

Annual spherical counts

The late-in-the-year decline in seed-stage rounds was pronounced sufficient to have an effect on year-over-year comparisons. For all of 2017, projected spherical counts complete 9,353 throughout all phases, down about 13 % from the 2016 complete of 10,711.

In the chart beneath, we have a look at spherical counts by stage over the previous 4 years to get an image of how 2017 ranks. Overall, the variety of late-stage and progress offers stayed comparatively flat year-over-year, with buyers persevering with to chase massive rounds for unicorns and near-unicorns. Virtually the entire decline is because of seed and early-stage developments.


As famous within the sections above, buyers did put an exceptionally great amount of capital to work in 2017. But how did they do when it comes to getting a reimbursement?

It’s powerful to supply a exact accounting of annual or quarterly enterprise returns, provided that buy costs are undisclosed in lots of M&A transactions and share costs fluctuate massively in lots of IPO exits.

However, if we had been to generalize for each the quarter and full yr, it will most likely be alongside these strains: Exits had been fairly so-so. The IPO window was open, however public market buyers had been choosy and fickle. Acquirers, in the meantime, saved up an honest dealmaking tempo, however didn’t do numerous actually massive offers.

Let’s have a look at a number of the numbers, and vital offers.


Those ready for giant, worthwhile acquisitions involving venture-backed unicorns must hold ready.

The fourth quarter of 2017 delivered a lot of strong, high-return exits. However, just like the prior two quarters, we didn’t see offers above the $1 billion mark. Instead, we noticed numerous smaller offers involving early-stage firms, just a few purchases at obvious markdowns from non-public market valuations and a few bigger transactions within the combine.

One firm that made a giant hit on the M&A market in This autumn was, the developer of a well-liked lip-syncing app that offered to China’s Toutiao in a deal reportedly valued at between $800 million and $1 billion. Other giant transactions concerned Black Duck Software, a safety supplier that offered to Synopsis for $565 million, and Shipt, a web based grocery supply service that Target purchased for $550 million.

For all of 2017, venture-backed M&A was decidedly lackluster. Cisco’s $three.7 billion acquisition of enterprise software program supplier AppDynamics, introduced in January, ranked because the yr’s solely identified multi-billion greenback M&A transaction involving a venture-backed firm.


As for IPOs, 2017 was actually extra motion packed than 2016, an unusually uninteresting yr for venture-backed public choices. The greatest IPO occasion of the previous yr was Snap’s Nasdaq debut in March. And though the self-deleting messaging supplier subsequently managed to delete a huge chunk of its market capitalization, the blockbuster providing did appear to usher in a interval of larger tech IPO exercise.

But 2017’s IPO cohort delivered combined outcomes.

Top performers for the yr included streaming media machine maker Roku, analytics supplier Alteryx and tech-enabled actual property firm Redfin.

Yet some startups that achieved IPO turned laggard. Snap made that checklist. So did meal equipment firm Blue Apron and storage know-how supplier Tintri, each of which ended the yr with shares down greater than 50 % from their preliminary supply value.

For This autumn of 2017, a few tech choices stood out for aftermarket performance. Shares of Stitch Fix, a web based supplier of garments curated by private stylists, had been not too long ago buying and selling up greater than 70 % from their preliminary supply value. Shares of e-mail supply platform Sendgrid additionally climbed sharply following the corporate’s October debut.

Looking forward

While the seed-stage slowdown has raised considerations in regards to the well being of the startup ecosystem, the enterprise trade stays awash with cash. Whether buyers stay flush, nevertheless, will rely to an excellent extent on their skill to supply exits.

Optimists have cause to anticipate enchancment on the exit entrance. In explicit, some trade insiders are predicting a pick-up in massive M&A offers in 2018.

Additionally, the passage of tax reform, together with decrease company tax charges and larger incentives to repatriate capital, might result in an increase in big-ticket offers involving U.S. startups.

Others, nevertheless, preserve that inflated startup valuations are preserving acquirers away. And whereas these valuations might actually be corrected, it’s not the end result startup buyers would like.


The information contained on this report comes straight from Crunchbase, and in two varieties: projected information and reported information.

Crunchbase makes use of projections for international and U.S. development evaluation. Projections are based mostly on historic patterns in late reporting, that are most pronounced on the earliest phases of enterprise exercise. Using projected information helps stop undercounting or reporting skewed developments that solely right over time. All projected values are famous accordingly.

Certain metrics, like imply and median reported spherical sizes, had been generated utilizing solely reported information. Unlike with projected information, Crunchbase calculates these sorts of metrics based mostly solely on the information it presently has. Just like with projected information, reported information will likely be correctly indicated.

Please be aware that every one funding values are given in U.S. except in any other case famous. Crunchbase converts foreign currency to U.S. on the prevailing spot charge from the date funding rounds, acquisitions, IPOs and different monetary occasions as reported. Even if these occasions had been added to Crunchbase lengthy after the occasion was introduced, overseas forex transactions are transformed on the historic spot value.

Why U.S. and Canada?

For the primary time, on this newest quarterly and annual report, we shifted our information assortment to incorporate each the U.S. and Canada. Previously, we reported U.S.-only quarterly numbers, along with our international stories. The cause for together with Canada was partly to supply a differentiated information set. We seen there are just a few stories that come out overlaying the U.S. enterprise scene, and a few information on Canada, however not a lot centered on North America extra broadly. (We thought of a broader North American information set that features Mexico, however due partly to variations within the charge and timing of self-reporting of startup funding, we deemed this may not absolutely seize the breadth of Mexican funding exercise.)

Glossary of funding phrases

  • Seed/angel embrace financings which are labeled as a seed or angel, together with accelerator fundings and fairness crowdfunding beneath $5 million.
  • Early-stage enterprise embrace financings which are labeled as a Series A or B, enterprise rounds with no designated sequence which are beneath $15 million and fairness crowdfunding above $5 million.
  • Late-stage enterprise embrace financings which are labeled as a Series C+ and enterprise rounds larger than $15 million.
  • Technology progress contains non-public fairness investments in firms that had beforehand raised enterprise funding.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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