The latest snapshots of venture capital financing show mixed results in the first quarter. They come from separate surveys by PwC/CB Insights and Dow Jones VentureSource.
For metro Seattle, however, the performance was strong.
VentureSource breaks out metropolitan areas, with Seattle ranking fifth in the number of deals funded and sixth in the total amount raised. The Bay Area ranked first in both, followed by New York and Boston. NYC is doing well without Amazon HQ2.
A total of 43 deals received financing here in the first quarter, raising $470 million.
ThePwC/CB Insights MoneyTree survey offers a slightly different lens, focusing on the state level. (I write “slightly” because Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue represents almost all of Washington’s VC activity anyhow).
Here, Washington roped in $474 million in the quarter compared with $308 million for the same period in 2018.
The top deal in the quarter was $100 million for Getty Images. Next up were ZipWhip ($52 million), a business texting outfit, and Pro.com ($33 million), which specializes in home improvement. All three are located in Seattle.
For all of 2018, MoneyTree recorded more than $2 billion for various stages of financing in 182 deals in Washington. That compares with nearly $1.9 billion in 2017.
This shows a Seattle economy that continues to chug along respectably in minting startups and moving them along the financing chain. But we produce few mega-rounds of funding ($100 million-plus). And, despite the region being home to two of Big Tech’s five, we lag in creating unicorns — private companies valued at $1 billion or more.
Each report uses proprietary means to gather and lay out VC activity.
Nationally, the first quarter was generally lower. Some of this is in comparison to very strong investment in the fourth quarter of 2018. Lyft’s debut cloaked a weaker IPO market. Nationally, VC funding declined 36% in the first quarter to $25 billion, with 4% fewer deals compared to the fourth quarter of last year, according to the MoneyTree report. North America beat out Asia, with 10 unicorns. Silicon Valley saw a VC decline while New York posted an increase.
Yet some caution is creeping in.
According to VentureSource, “Deal flow (the number of investment opportunities) declined for the third quarter in a row, something that only occurred twice before — during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and the bursting of the dot-com bubble. Whether this is a statistical anomaly or a harbinger of things to come remains to be seen.”
• Three new nonstop flights recently began between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and destinations in Asia. They are: Japan Airlines daily to Tokyo-Narita; Cathay Pacific Airways to Hong Kong, and Delta Air Lines seasonal service to Osaka.
According to Port of Seattle spokesperson Kate Hudson, “Since 2016, 11 international airlines jumped in to serve Sea-Tac with 12 new international services.” Other destinations are Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei.
• Washington ranked No. 6 in defense dollars spent in states, $15.2 billion for fiscal 2017, according to a new report by the Pentagon. Boeing topped defense contractors. The armed services counted 98,000, including 33,000 civilian employees. Texas received the most defense spending among the states.
• Arts and culture add $800 billion to U.S. gross domestic product, about 4 percent. This comes from a new report by the National Endowment for the Arts. New York and California are overall leaders. But Washington ranked first in growth in GDP attributed to arts and culture from 2014 to 2016, at 11.9 percent. Oregon ranked No. 11 with 6.5 percent growth The national average was up 5.9 percent.