Like most everything else in the U.S. startup funding scene, Series B rounds have gotten bigger.
Last year, the average Series B round for a U.S. company clocked in at $45 million—up nearly 50 percent from 2020. And so far in 2022, round size has ticked up even higher.
Size isn’t the only thing that’s changing, based on our review of Series B funding. Investments also appear to be a bit more broadly dispersed across geographies. The variety of sectors represented among the largest deals also looks expansive, although biotech still leads for supergiant rounds.
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We periodically look at Series B trends because this stage functions as a sort of proxy for the broader venture funding ecosystem: It’s typically the point in a startup’s lifecycle when it has proven technology or market traction and is on the cusp of major scaling. With this in mind, here are some of the leading trends:
Trend No. 1: More money
Series B investment has trended up for each of the past five years. We look at total funding and round counts below:
- 2021: $55.9 billion invested across 1,242 rounds
- 2020: $25.4 billion invested across 835 rounds
- 2019: $21.8 billion invested across 827 rounds
- 2018: $20.2 billion invested across 878 rounds
- 2017: $16.0 billion invested across 768 rounds
What about this year? So far, it looks like the high investment rate is keeping up in 2022, with $9.24 billion invested so far this year across 190 rounds.
Trend No. 2: San Francisco Bay Area still top hub, but others gaining
For the past couple decades, the vast majority of Series B funding has gone to companies in a small number of geographies, dominated by the San Francisco Bay Area.
Is that changing? Maybe, but not dramatically. So far this year, for instance, Bay Area-headquartered companies pulled in roughly 40 percent of all Series B funding. New York and Boston companies together pulled in about 16 percent of capital.
Still, if we look at the top 10 Series B funding recipients this year, it’s a pretty geographically varied bunch. Beyond the three biggest hubs, metro areas represented include Reno, Salt Lake City, Austin, Boulder and Los Angeles.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that these days employees often don’t work at headquarters. Increasingly, scaling startups are hiring remote workers or operating from multiple locations. It’s also not uncommon for companies to have headquarters in a major U.S. city but maintain most of their workforce abroad.
Trend No. 3: Biotech is big; so are NTFs and energy
Recipients of the biggest Series B rounds represented a range of industries. The largest rounds over the past six months, for instance, went to fusion energy developer Commonwealth Fusion, gamer-focused NFT upstart Forte, and drug discovery company Eikon Therapeutics.
For a broader look, we picked out the 10 largest Series B recipients of the past six months, listed below:
Notably, none of the top 10 Series B rounds of the past six months were fintech. Financial services and fintech investment has been slowing in recent weeks. We’ve been wondering if there are signs of a sector rotation out of financial services, which was by far the largest industry for global venture investment in 2021.
Trend No. 4: No Series B slowdown (at least not yet)
Global venture funding announcements have slowed down in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. But U.S. Series B round announcements haven’t shown any pronounced slowdown yet.
In the two weeks following the attack, which commenced on Feb. 23, U.S. companies announced roughly $1.4 billion in Series B investments, on par with the $1.48 billion announced in the prior two weeks.
It’s a short period and not a huge sample set, so it’s probably best not to read too much into the numbers. However, it does seem to indicate that U.S. Series B may be more insulated from the turmoil than other geographies and investment stages.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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