Venture capitalists invested $128 billion worldwide in 2015, up 44 percent from $89 billion 2014 and the a biggest amount since the dotcom bubble year of 2000, according to the 2015 Venture Pulse Report by data analysis firm CB Insights and accounting/consulting firm KPMG.
“What sets 2015 apart, however, lies in the size and scope of the venture capital investments that were made,” the report said. “From healthcare to FinTech, and retail to education, companies sparked changes that could affect every sector and every business moving forward. Investors saw this potential and made significant investments.”
The report said that 71 VC-backed companies achieved “unicorn” status, or valuations in excess of $1 billion, compared to 53 in 2014. There were a total of 7,872 deals struck in 2015, but only 1,742 deals in the fourth quarter. Big corporate investors participated in 25 percent of all deals.
The reported continued:
The World Economic Forum calls this dawning era of transformation and innovation the Fourth Industrial Revolution. At the end of this month, business and government leaders will come together in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss how to navigate these unprecedented changes. But the reality is that regular system-wide innovations are expected to continue to rock the foundations of traditional industries well into the future – and investors must enter uncharted territories if they are to achieve success.
But after a bubbly first half, the stalling of the Chinese stock market changed attitudes. VC investment dropped from $38.7 billion in Q3 to $27.2 billion in Q4, while the number of deals hit a low not seen since the first quarter of 2013.
“The drop-off was most noticeable in Asia, where China and India received significantly less funding than in all previous quarters of 2015,” the report noted. “Comparatively, Europe experienced the least decrease in VC activity, although both the number of deals and the total deal value in Europe remain small compared to other regions of the world.” The report concluded that “The drop in VC investment signifies a shift in thinking as global investors seem to be taking a less bullish view of the market.”
Major factors in the investment drop-off were an uncertain global economy, a projected slowdown in China, and expected interest rate increases, following the recent rate increase in the U.S. On top of that, a number of Q4 initial public offerings fell short of recent private valuations, making investors more cautious.
In regional results, New York outpaced Massachusetts. The U.S. overall, however, saw significant pullback in the fourth quarter. Europe was the least volatile of the regions, with investment staying constant at about $3 billion per quarter. The U.K. accounted for half of Europe’s funding.
In Asia, VC-backed deals fell 32 percent from the third quarter to the fourth quarter. But the region still saw a record $39.7 billion in deals in 2015, more than in the previous four years combined. In Q4, funding in China fell 29 percent from the prior quarter to $7.2 billion. India also saw a pullback, with the number of deals falling 46 percent and the funding amounts dropping 18 percent from the third to the fourth quarter.