Venture Capital Investment Trends since 1995 (Deals by Stage)

Posted on March 3, 2008

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Doing some research about Venture Capital trends, I came across some interesting data provided by PWCMoneyTree.showing convergence in the number of venture capital deals between Early Stage, Expansion, and Later Stage deals, while the Start-up/Seed Stage dropped considerably over the past 12-13 years:

Reading nothing more than the data presented in these graphs, I’m hypothesizing that this decline was a function of a number of factors:

1. Venture Capital followed itself.

If there were a plethora of start-ups in the mid-1990s at the start of the internet/tech bubble, then it would make sense that targets that received venture capital in the “Start-up/Seed Stage” would then receive subsequent rounds of funding while in their “Early Stage” and “Expansion Stages”, then eventually as “Late Stage” investments. Seems there may be some evidence of this effect as you examine the decrease of Start-up/Seed Stage funding with increases (and then decreases) in Early Stage and Expansion targets. These Early Stage and Expansion investment targets then became targets for Late Stage funding.

2. Venture Capital has become more risk averse.

Following the fallout of the last tech bubble in the late 1990’s, venture capitalists turned their attention to firms that were past the start-up stage and had a better chance of survival. This would certainly explain the dramatic rise in the percentage of deals in Later Stage companies from approximately 10% to 30% of investments.

3. Venture Capital has become more selective

Certainly there was not a drastic decrease in the number of firms seeking Start-up/Seed Stage funding during the past 12-13 years – just the number of venture capitalists willing and able to fund these start-ups.

4. The ongoing emergence of Angel Capital

As angel capital groups continue their emergence, they may be filling the void – funding Start-up/Seed Stage companies instead of traditional Venture Capital.

I am actively researching these thoughts to support with further evidence, but this certainly provides some interesting fodder for discussion. I’m interested in your feedback on this thought process.

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