Written by Alex Wilhelm

Global VC market sees highest-ever concentration of supergiant dollar volume in Q4 2018

For the global VC industry, 2018 was a supergiant year. Crunchbase projects that 2018 deal and dollar volume surpassed even the high-water mark left by the dot-com deluge and the drought that followed.

As covered in Crunchbase News’s global VC report reviewing Q4 and the rest of 2018, projected deal volume rose by 32 percent and projected dollar volume jumped 55 percent since 2017. For all of 2018, Crunchbase projects that well over $300 billion was invested in equity funding rounds across all stages of the venture-backed company life cycle. (This figure includes an estimate of transactions that were finalized in 2018, but won’t be publicized or added to Crunchbase until later. More on how Crunchbase projects data can be found at the end of that report.)

Is the market mostly buoyed by the billions raised by the biggest private tech companies, or is a rising tide in this extended aquatic metaphor raising all ships? In other words, is the bulk of the capital going to only a handful of the largest rounds? That’s what the numbers show.

In the global VC pool, capital is definitely sloshing toward rounds totaling $100 million or more. In the chart below, you can see what percent of reported global VC dollar volume was raised in “supergiant” rounds versus deals of smaller size.


In the year, over 56 percent of worldwide dollar volume can be attributed to supergiant rounds. With 61 percent of reported capital coming from supergiants in the final quarter, Q4 2018 has the highest concentration of supergiant dollar volume of any single quarter on record.

Big money weighs on the market

Following that same theme, the calendar year 2018 is the most concentrated year on record. In the chart below, we show how much capital was raised in non-supergiant (<$100 million) venture rounds over the past decade. (It’s basically the bottom part of the first chart, with the data aggregated over a longer period of time.)

For the first time in at least a decade (and likely ever) supergiant, $100 million+ VC rounds accounted for a majority of reported capital raised. So in summary: Q4 2018 had the highest share of supergiant VC dollar volume on record, and 2018 was the most concentrated year on record.

On the one hand, the results are not surprising, considering that the biggest-ever VC round (a preposterously large $14 billion Series C raised by Ant Financial) and several rivals for that top spot were closed last year. That big round made a big splash. It was the year of multi-billion-dollar global growth funds, SoftBank and scooter CEOs worth supergiant sums, at least on paper. But was it good for the smaller players too?

Seed and early-stage deal and dollar volume were both up in 2018, but then again, so is everything toward the end of a bull market cycle. The question is, when the bottom falls out, between supergiant and more normal-sized rounds, which has the farthest to fall?

SoftBank’s triple, Pinterest is going public, and the market meltdown

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week we had 75 percent of the core crew on hand to chat: Connie Loizos, Danny Crichton, and myself. Kate will be back on the show early next year, we promise. We were also joined by Menlo Ventures‘ Venky Ganesan who was a super great addition to the team.

There was a lot to get through. In fact, we had to toss a few things overboard toward the end due to time. So, we didn’t get to US-China cross-border venture flows, or the new Lightspeed China fund, but we did dig into:

SoftBank’s latest three mega investments. SoftBank let loose a trio of titanic checks into three companies, including $385 million into Fair, a car-focused company, $400 million into Relay Therapeutics, which deals with “protein motion,” and $500 million into Cambridge Mobile Telematics. That’s what, $1.285 billion announced in a single week?

Pinterest’s impending IPO. As expected, Pinterest is going public. We riffed on its recent revenue growth and the timing of its debut. Honestly, I’m pretty giddy to read this S-1, and I doubt that I am alone.

The US market’s crisis. Recording this late in the day on the 20th, we cut the episode right after U.S. tech stocks took a pounding. Dropbox fell under its IPO price as other SaaS players like Box took big hits. Social fell, as Snap and Twitter both swooned, the former falling under $5 per share temporarily. The pain went on, and on, and on.

Big Chinese tech stocks at 52-week lows. It’s not only American tech stocks that are in trouble, however; Chinese tech shops that have already gone public are taking their lumps as well. Indeed, as Danny detailed, many firms that were running hot before are now testing full-year lows.

Equity’s impending two-week vacation. And to celebrate all of that, this podcast is taking the first two weeks of 2019 off. Mostly so that TechCrunch can decamp to Vegas for CES, but also because after more than 100 episodes, we need to catch our breath. (And restock the fridge with Red Bull. Danny did yawn on this episode, after all!)

Next week we have a special holiday episode involving the ever-brilliant Connie and a guest. Past that, as mentioned above, we are off for two weeks. So, we’ll be back as a group in the middle of January.

Until then, a big thanks one last time for hanging out with us over the last couple of years. Chat soon!

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercast, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts.

Ridesharing IPOs and $850M for Luckin, Plaid and Zymergen

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week we had the regular crew back together which was good fun. Connie took point, we had Danny mic’d up in New York, and I was onsite to help the crew natter along with Bubba Murarka, a former VC and founder who now cuts checks on his own.

Thematically, this was a week of mega rounds so we had little choice but to go over more than a few. And Uber is out there doing its IPO thing. So, we started with cars and pivoted to rounds.

Regarding Uber and Lyft, it’s mostly been said, but we took a noodle through the historical context of two other temporally close IPOs between rivals, Visa and Mastercard, and talked about the impending offerings for a minute, as we couldn’t resist. Do they lose too much money? Is there an advantage to going first? That sort of thing.

After, we got to the new funding rounds. First up was the Luckin Coffee $200 million round. The rise of Luckin in China has been simply astounding. I wanted to know some boring financial results, which our guest found a bit old-fashioned, but we all agreed that the company has hit on something big. And something big in China to boot, which means the company has been heading straight north.

Next, we touched on Plaid and its own $250 million infusion. The Kleiner-sourced round was far more money than the financial API company had raised before. It was a staggering amount of capital. Coming on the heels of the recent public-market success of Twilio and the private-market success of Stripe, both API-based companies, may have played a part in the rounds construction.

The good times are not merely coffee and software-focused, however. Zymergen also picked up a nine-figure round: $400 million.

So much for a seasonal slowdown. Hang tight, we’ll be right back.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercast, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts.