VC funding in US soars to highest since dot.com era

NEW YORK• • Venture capital (VC) funding in the United States has hit its highest level since the dot.com era.

US venture firms deployed US$84 billion (S$112 billion) in more than 8,000 companies last year, according to research firm PitchBook. The last time this much money sloshed around Silicon Valley and other tech hubs, many venture firms lost their investments in the dot.com bust of the early aughts. That is far less likely to happen today.

"While the figures are comparable to the dot.com era, the VC ecosystem appears healthy and driven by different dynamics," PitchBook chief executive John Gabbert said. "Later-stage companies with strong consumer traction are commanding large rounds of financing."

There is a downside for investors: because so many companies are staying private longer, they are finding it harder to get their money out.

The number of exits fell for the third consecutive year, the report said, the lowest since 2011.

Companies opting to stay private longer means that start-ups are continuing to seek more money from their venture capital backers, often asking for larger deal sizes as their firms grow.

SoftBank Group's US$100 billion Vision Fund and other non-traditional investors have continued to boost this trend, funding companies that otherwise would have gone public or sold themselves.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline 'VC funding in US soars to highest since dot.com era'. Print Edition | Subscribe