Business Venture

What The Heck Happened? The Whiplash Year Of 2022

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Remember January 2022? Ah, those were the days. The venture-backed startup world was revving up for another record-breaking year, raising huge rounds and paving the way to successful IPOs. But then caution flags began flying, venture capitalists pulled back, layoffs mounted, and lucrative exits became few and far between. Follow along with the Crunchbase News team as we track the major events of a year full of hairpin turns. 


• 1/18 — Not so fast, FTC says: Microsoft announces plans to acquire gaming giant Activision Blizzard, sparking a battle with Federal Trade Commission regulators who say the deal would allow Microsoft, which owns the Xbox gaming console, to suppress competition.  

• 1/25 — So young, so much money: Nearly 600 new unicorns were minted in 2021, and about 18% of them were early stage. Those glossy startups’ early rounds totaled almost $26 billion, with the total valuations of early-stage unicorns hitting $218 billion.   

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• 2/7 — Supply chain, agtech, Web3 funding off to a strong start: 2022 has barely begun, and investors have already delivered nearly $1.9 billion in venture funding to supply chain management companies. Agtech investment also flourishes with more than $1 billion of venture funding plowed into the sector so far in the year. And Web3 funding heats up with two raises totaling $650 million in 24 hours.

• 2/24 — Russia invades Ukraine, sparking global unrest: Russia launches an unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine, sending ripple effects throughout a world economy already on edge after two years of pandemic and supply chain woes. We look at Ukraine’s small but growing startup sector and how its business community stays resilient in the chaos of war, the ripple effects on the semiconductor industry, and how one company supports its Ukrainian employees. One silver lining for VC investors is the cybersecurity sector: Even as the markets tumbled, share prices have risen for several publicly traded cyber stocks. 


• 3/5 — Funding slowdown arrives: In a sign of things to come, global venture funding comes in at $160 billion in the first quarter of 2022, marking the first time in a year when startup capital fell quarter over quarter.

• 3/17 — Fed begins rate hikes: In a bid to tame inflation, the U.S. Federal Reserve raises its federal funds benchmark rate by 25 basis points, to the range of 0.25% to 0.50% — marking the first time since 2018 that the central bank has increased rates. The rate hike is just the first of many in 2022 as the Fed tries to pump the brakes on consumer prices.

• 3/18 — SoftBank dumps Cruise: News breaks that SoftBank Vision Fund will not honor its previous commitment of $1.35 billion in funding to Cruise, now that the startup is operating fully driverless cars. It’s one of the first signs of SoftBank’s growing problems and poor investment strategy and a declining venture market.

• 3/29 — Hey, we care about the environment: Startups in the sustainable packaging space are pulling in hundreds of millions in venture funding, and industry insiders see plenty of room for growth ahead.

• 3/31 — Women’s network joins unicorn club: Chief, a private network for female leaders, raises a $100 million Series B at a $1.1 billion valuation.


• Tech layoffs mount: Tech layoffs spike in April with around 6,600 employees getting cut from the U.S. tech workforce.

• 4/11 — An epic raise: Epic Games, the company behind the wildly popular Fortnite video game series, raises $2 billion from Sony and Kirkbi

• 4/14 — Musk makes a bid for the blue bird: A few weeks after disclosing that he’d amassed a 9.2% stake in Twitter, Elon Musk offers to buy the social platform outright for $44 billion — a significant premium for the San Francisco-based company. But before the deal finally closes, tune in for months of litigation and drama.

• 4/28 — EV charging startups spark VC interest: Scores of companies in the EV charging space are raising funding, much of it in seed and early stage. But can the sector charge up equally powerful exits?


• 5/12 — SoftBank signals big losses: SoftBank — an investor in tech giants like Didi and Uber — announces a loss of $27.7 billion on investments in its Vision Fund for its just-ended fiscal year and tells investors there will be a “stricter selection of investments” for the new year.

• 5/25 — Sequoia sounds the alarm: Just about two weeks after SoftBank’s warnings of belt tightening, venture giant Sequoia Capital — known for investments in tech titans such as Apple, Uber and Google — shares a 52-slide presentation with 250 founders on May 16 over Zoom that warns of a “crucible moment” of uncertainty for the venture market due to inflation, the markets and geopolitical issues. The presentation is another sign of unrest in the venture market and reminiscent of Sequoia’s “R.I.P. Good Times” in 2008.

• 5/31 — Five thriving seed crops: Even as late-stage funding falls, investors are backing an abundant variety of seed-stage startups this year. Fertile sectors include the metaverse, brain and neurotech, fitness, NFTs, and alternative meats.


• VC takes another turn for the worst: Those looking for better news at the end of the second quarter were sadly disappointed: Global funding slowed dramatically in Q2 2022 as investors further shied away from later-stage funding bets.

• 6/13 — SpaceX fuels up with $1.7B: Elon Musk’s “other company,” SpaceX, raises $1.68 billion in equity financing from a large group of investors. Though the raise marks one of the largest of the year, it’s a tad under the $1.72 billion the rocket maker was reportedly seeking.

• 6/24 — SCOTUS sets off shockwaves:  The Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that codified the right to an abortion in the U.S. After it was overturned, several online pharmacy and health startups began working toward providing abortions


• 7/11 — Klarna valuation plummets: Buy now, pay later startup Klarna raises $800 million in new funding in a deal that chops its valuation by 85% to $6.7 billion. The valuation drop is a sign of things to come, as other unicorns will also see their values decline, sometimes significantly, as the year wears on.

• 7/28 — Dry powder piles up: Firms keep announcing monster new commitments to funds even as venture investment drops. Already this year, firms have publicly announced nearly $144 billion in funds being raised, a number that nearly matches 2021’s blockbuster amount.


• 8/16 — Biden signs massive tax-and-spend bill: President Joe Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law, cementing a massive piece of legislation that earmarks almost $400 billion for green energy and health care, while raising tax rates on corporations and the wealthy. Despite its name, many economists say the legislation is unlikely to greatly reduce consumer prices — and may actually spur further inflation over the next few years. Even so, Wall Street reacts largely positively to the bill.  

• 8/31 — Hello there, extension rounds: In a tepid market, extension rounds are on the uptick. It’s a viable option for some startups that raised at a high valuation in 2021 but aren’t meeting milestones to raise the next funding stage.


• VC funding drops dramatically: Venture funding in Q3 totals $81 billion — down by 53% year over year — removing any doubt that 2022 will look very different from 2021. 

• 9/15 — Adobe pulls out its pocketbook: Adobe announces its intent to acquire Figma for $20 billion — half in stock and half in cash. Should the acquisition be approved, it will be the largest acquisition of a private technology company to date. The largest technology acquisition prior to this announcement was Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion. And the third largest is Walmart’s purchase of Flipkart in 2018 for $16 billion. 

• 9/27 — Dermo funding more than skin deep: Investment in cosmetic dermatology — treating acne, brittle hair and wrinkles — has been on the rise in India. Generic drugmaker Torrent Pharmaceuticals sets up to acquire dermatology startup Curatio Healthcare for $245 million.


• 10/12 — The journey continues: TripActions pulls in $300 million in an October Series G round at a post-money valuation of $9.2 million. The corporate travel booking platform earlier filed confidential paperwork for an IPO with the SEC.

• 10/31 — The wheels come off Argo AI: Pittsburgh-based self-driving technologies company Argo AI closes down as it’s unable to raise new funds. Primarily backed by Ford and VW, the company was last valued at $12.4 billion in July 2021 in a funding and partnership with Lyft


• 11/6 — Binance says bye to FTT: Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweets that Binance — the largest exchange by volume — will sell its holdings of FTX’s native token, FTT. 

• 11/09 — Meta makes mega layoffs: Meta begins laying off around 11,000 employees, making it the largest layoff move in tech in 2022. Not far behind is Amazon, which cuts 10,000 jobs.

• 11/11 — FTX files for bankruptcy: After the collapse of the FTT token and a rush on withdrawals, FTX, Alameda Research and all their affiliates declare bankruptcy — with FTX showing an $8 billion shortfall. It’s a dramatic collapse when one considers just earlier in the year FTX and FTX US carried valuations of $32 billion and $8 billion, respectively, before everything fell apart.

• 11/16 — FDA OKs lab meat: The Food and Drug Administration says lab-grown meat is safe to eat, a major win for cultivated meat startups, which have gobbled up nearly $700 million in VC funding this year.

• 11/18 — Holmes gets prison time: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for defrauding investors with her blood-testing startup, which prosecutors described as an elaborate, years-long fraud.

• 11/28 — Musk-Twitter deal closes: Elon Musk officially — and reluctantly — buys Twitter, just a day before a trial in Delaware Chancery Court is set to start in which the company aimed to force him to go through on his offer. Musk soon begins firing Twitter’s top executives and making deep cuts to its workforce, changes that in turn set off an advertiser revolt.

• 11/30 — ChatGPT says “hello, world”: OpenAI releases ChatGPT, its AI-powered chatbot, to the wider world, setting the tech world abuzz and renewing interest in artificial intelligence’s capabilities. While the robots aren’t (yet) taking our jobs, they are getting lots of funding from investors.


• Layoffs near 100K: By early December, at least 90,000 U.S. tech workers have lost their jobs this year. 

• 12/2 — Anduril locks in $1.5B raise: Defense tech startup Anduril, founded by Palmer Luckey, raises nearly $1.5 billion in a Series E round that values it at $8.5 billion. The company is one of the few VC-backed startups that do business with the Pentagon.

• 12/7 — Balwani gets 13 years: Elizabeth Holmes’ ex-boyfriend and former Theranos executive Sunny Balwani is sentenced to 13 years in prison for his involvement in the company.

• 12/12 — SBF arrested: FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is arrested in the Bahamas and charged with eight criminal counts. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler accuses Bankman-Fried of having “built a house of cards on a foundation of deception while telling investors that it was one of the safest buildings in crypto.”

• 12/14 — Fed hikes rate again: The Federal Reserve hikes the federal funds rate to between 4.25% and 4.5% in its final 2022 rate increase, though the central bank signals it will continue to raise rates into 2023 as it struggles to tame inflation.

Illustration: Dom Guzman


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