Venture capital hits record high in U.S. in 2020 despite pandemic

FILE PHOTO: Commuters walk through the Financial District during a snow storm in Lower Manhattan, New York, January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Elizabeth Shafiroff

(Reuters) – Venture capital backed companies in the United States raised nearly $130 billion last year, setting a record despite the COVID-19 pandemic, figures from data firm CB Insight released on Friday show.

While the investment total is up 14% from 2019, the number of deals is down 9% to 6,022. And so-called mega-rounds, deals that are $100 million or higher also hit a record amount and number with $63 billion raised in 318 deals.

“What we’re seeing is a ‘rich get richer’ phenomenon where successful, high momentum technology companies are vacuuming up most of the financing,” CB Insights chief executive Anand Sanwal told Reuters by email.

He said that data showed a big drop in a very early stage investment called seed stage, and expected some of those companies that stand out to see “insatiable investor demand” with fewer competitors for the money.

The trend of big investments doesn’t look like it will slow in 2021 as there is a lot of capital chasing investments, say some venture capitalists.

Already on Thursday Quantum Metric, a startup that provides customer analytics and improvement tools for online businesses, said it raised $200 million in its latest financing round, which values the firm at more than $1 billion.

In 2020, many of the mega rounds were raised by tech companies that got a boost from COVID-19, which drove up remote work and e-commerce.

“Capital tends to follow categories that have a lot of legs. And I think right now you’re seeing a lot of conviction behind categories and companies that are riding un-doubtable trends,” said Arun Mathew a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel, an early investor in Facebook.

“I think it’s pretty safe to say 2021 is going to be a banner year for many tech companies,” Mathew said.

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