Funding reports

2017: A Look Back

What a year.

In March of 2017, we launched Crunchbase News. Since then we’ve grown our little team, debuted two podcasts, broke some news, published hundreds of charts, told some bad jokes, and had a generally bang-up time.

We didn’t get everything right. Our first chart color-scheme was too bright, it took some time to get our style locked-in, and we still don’t have a Crunchbase News logo on our front page. And we spent more of the year camping out on the Crunchbase About site’s URL structure than we should have. Hindsight, and all that.

What we wanted to do today was highlight some of the best stuff that we did. And we want to do that as the people behind the words and images and graphs are often a bit too hard to see.

So, without any more fuss, here’s 2017. Enjoy!

Help, I’ve Too Many Charts

If there is something that we’ve figured out how to do at Crunchbase News, it’s charts. Our very first published piece included the minimalist chart you see below:

For a time, that template did its job. But as our data mining grew more complex, our chart style had to grow as well. And courtesy of our own Li-Anne Dias and Jason Rowley, here is just one example of the result from Jason’s post on investment trends:

For more on how we’ve used our new design guide for charting check out our piece asking if VCs can spot the next trend before the public, our piece on lawyer culture and that industry’s uptake of new tech, and our overview of Softbank’s investment cadence.

Newsy Bits

But we didn’t just produce charts by the bucket. Aside from covering the day’s news each day in our morning reports, we broke news.

Our coverage of Teespring’s unraveling, for example, detailed the company’s layoffs and corporate restructuring. The firm had raised nearly $57 million from a who’s who of venture players before coming apart at the seams. We went back and charted the company’s revenue, net income, and new value of its common stock.

This year we also broke the news that WeWork would acquire Meetup, a big deal for the New York startup space. (We’ve taken a few moments to write extensively about WeWork, as well.) That deal was supposed to tip the scales at around $200 million.

Earlier in 2017, we also broke news of a security incident at Eaze, a cannabis-delivery startup and missed being first to this Google story by minutes.

Location-Based Inquiry

One critical method that Crunchbase News used this year to make sense of 2017’s startup scene was location. Geographic location, to be precise.

By cutting data, news, and companies by borders we bucketed the startup world into discrete units that we could then stack up against one another. The results were fun. For example, here’s a look at the South Bay startup scene, and one looking only at the East Bay Startup scene.

But we didn’t just stick close to home. Instead, we scampered around the United States, looking into the best startup cities in the Midwest (though, this headline generated some complaint), and publishing a lot of work on Austin, including data on its startups and growing cohort of underrepresented founders. We also covered immigrant entrepreneurs.

Looking abroad, we published a two part series on Russian startups raising capital from the United States, and United States-based startups raising Russian money, along with a dive into the Canadian startups world’s relationship with the United States (Part one here, part two here.)

And China. China was a big topic for our little crew this year. We looked at its bikesharing ecosystem, the impact of regulation on “China-US venture activity,” the state of the Chinese self-driving market (it’s hot in case you are behind.), what one Chinese venture shop is doing both at home and outside its domestic market, and more than a few Chinese IPOs.

Finally, here’s where you are most likely to run into a unicorn in the United States, and data on where venture capitalists invest, and, spoiler, why it’s “close to home.”

Partners And Friends

This year we took part in the launch of Equity with our friends at TechCrunch. The weekly podcast has been a surprising success given its niche topic, but a welcome one. It’s coming up on 50 episodes now, amazingly, and is more popular than ever.

(Not to spill the beans, but you should be able to catch a live taping in Q1.)

We also worked with the San Francisco Chronicle this year on a recurring print and digital series (here’s one example) digging into the Bay Area startup scene. The goal of the serial is the find and cover the next set of big companies in Silicon Valley, not merely cover the already-large.

That series spawned a weekly video shoot, which has also now become a podcast. It’s great fun and we’re looking at a whole bunch more of the same in 2018.

All that and we cross-posted a bit with VentureBeat for good measure.


We also spent a lot of time writing things that we wanted to because we wanted to. That doesn’t mean that we completely left the farm. More, instead, that we wandered the back forty more than a bit.

We touched on a small-cap American company going public in London, looked at what tech shops did in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and put out a number of pieces looking at the changing value of ARR as well—something that was sure to gather a crowd.

We launched a Proust-style interview series with various players in and around tech, which was a delight, explored the gap between venture capital in Red and Blue states, and chomped down on fake meat startups. Oh, and how are we going to get people into tech that don’t have Stanford CS degrees?

Our Dearly Departed

We also had the privilege of working with some great folks who are no longer scribbling for these pages. Namely: Max Cherney and Grace Gu.

Max dropped in for two pieces before joining MarketWatch and becoming a lunch partner instead of writing comrade. He covered the Indian ecommerce scene and which startups that the CIA is investing in. Max rocks.

And, our first intern Grace Gu left us in September to go back to the University of Chicago. Grace wrote a host of great things for us, helped out with morning reports, Proust interviews, covered TechCrunch Disrupt, and even took part in a video shoot. Grace is killer.

(She also wrote about her time with us here, in case you wanted an external view on Crunchbase proper.)

A Focus On Diversity

Tech isn’t very diverse, and isn’t nearly as diverse as it should be. That’s why we made it one of our initial topic sets before we launched Crunchbase News.

We could have done more, and will in 2018, but this year we covered diverse founders in Texas, venture capitalists investing in startups looking to bolster industry diversity, and published a number of pieces on the changing representation of women in the venture capital and startup worlds (here’s one and here’s another.)

Keep your eyes on this page for more pieces in the new year. We’re going to double down on covering diversity.

Big Tech Gets Bigger

One theme of 2017 was the huge run of big tech to new heights. While the markets did well, and the Everything Bubble kept on inflating, the biggest American tech companies excelled.

We call them the “Big 5,” for short: Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. We noted when they crossed the $3 trillion market cap threshold, for example. And when they each crushed their earnings reports in quick succession.

And, we covered their respective IPOs in a series we called “A Look Back In IPO. Here’s the various entries: Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft.

A Startup Takes Flight

Even for the folks behind Crunchbase News, the inner workings of venture deals can feel a bit tedious. But in a surprise twist, one of our hits was a series on the mechanics of venture capital investment.

With Jason’s help, and a startup we made up called The Internet Of Wings, Crunchbase News brought life to the fundraising process. Amidst our pokes at startup culture, we dig into the guts of raising a round, determining the worth of shares, protecting interests, and finding an exit.

Read it before you go out and raise funds for your startup.

An Early-Stage Digression

Later in the year, the early-stage venture market’s health (or lack thereof) became a key topic of discussion both online and off. As the third quarter ended we published something of a warning: “Seed-Stage Activity Fumbles Amidst Increases In Late-Stage Dealmaking.”

That proved a bit prescient, as the impending discussion of pre-seed (and why it exists at all) fit well into what we called the SaaS crash and broader early-stage slowdown. (Hell, even mobile startups are struggling.) What comes next here could set the tone for much of the startup landscape in 2018.

The Three Comprades Of Bad News

What was supposed to go up in 2017 that actually went down? Three things! Well, more than three, but definitely these three as well: Uber, Snap, and Blue Apron. Two IPOs and a miss, in other words.

Those companies prove that the unicorn label is now panacea, and that losses still matter. And in the case of Snap that positive gross margins matter. And with Uber that net revenue is better than gross bookings as a metric of health. And for Blue Apron that non-tech companies don’t bet to keep tech multiples when they go public.

Alex Apologizes

Alex managed to publish a number of headlines that he’d like to apologize for. The following list is somewhat self-explanatory:

But at times we weren’t sarcastic, snarky, or rude. When we covered Medium’s new clap-based monetization, for example. (More on that from us here, actually.) See?

Guests, Etc.

We had a few friends of the blog contribute this year, which was lovely. Two contributors come to mind: Justin Gage and Barrett Daniels.

Justin found out if we really live in the golden era of startups (we do not) and if ICOs are actually going to take on venture capital in the future. Finally, he took the time to tell us that the ICO boom itself has historical precedent.

Barrett wrote about the IPO process, which, perhaps, will be critical advice in 2018. We hope, at least.

And that’s a bit of it. We wrote a hell of a lot more, but we can’t go on any longer as it’s Friday and we’d rather knock off and have something to eat. Stay cool, and chat you all in 2018.

— Alex and Holden

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