While global venture investment has fallen considerably from last year’s peak, the most active startup investors of 2021 have remained prolific dealmakers in 2022.
For the first half of this year, Tiger Global Management led the pack as the spendiest lead investor in global venture and growth-stage rounds. SoftBank Vision Fund and Insight Partners nabbed second and third place, respectively.
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Yet while these firms continued to invest actively in the first half of this year, their total spending appears down, in some cases significantly, from the second half of 2021. For perspective, we chart out the nine highest-spending global investors 1, based on the value of rounds they led or co-led in H1 2022:
SoftBank, Tiger pull back sharply on spending
Looking at the chart above, one of the most dramatic takeaways is how much total investment for many active investors has apparently fallen in the first half of 2022 compared to the second half of 2021.
SoftBank is the standout example. It led or co-led rounds valued at $8.3 billion in the first half of this year. That’s a whopping 66% decline from the second half of last year and a 20% drop from the year-ago period.
The latest tally follows a May announcement from SoftBank that it will take a more conservative approach to selecting investments—after recording a $27.7 billion loss on its Vision Fund business segment for its fiscal year. It was another warning shot that the high times of 2021 are over for venture capital.
Tiger, while still in the No. 1 position, is also scaling back sharply. The value of rounds it led or co-led in H1 2022 is down 41% from H2 2021. Insight Partners’ total is also down, albeit less sharply.
However, not all investors are tightening their belts. The value of rounds led or co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, for instance, actually ticked up a bit in the first half of this year. At Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, spending looked way up, with the value of lead deals up 161% sequentially in the first half.
Total deal counts are down, but Tiger remains voracious
The number of global startup funding rounds fell in the first half of this year. But while most firms are doing fewer deals, a few are actually cutting more checks.
In the chart below, we look at the most active investors by lead round counts:
For lead rounds, Tiger Global ranked as the most active venture global investor. The New York-headquartered firm led or co-led a whopping 154 rounds in the first half of this year, up substantially from the second half of 2021 and the year-ago period.
Next up was Insight Partners, followed by Andreessen Horowitz and SoftBank Vision Fund. Notably, round counts rose sequentially in the first half for six of the 11 active investors on our list.
SoftBank, while still active, showed one of the largest round count declines. The firm led or co-led 55 rounds in the first half of this year, compared to 87 in the prior quarter.
At early stage, it’s the usual suspects again
As we turn to early stage, the list of most active lead investors contains familiar names.
Once again, Tiger tops the ranks, with 96 investments in the first half of the year, up from 69 in the prior six-month period. Next come Insight Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, with 71 and 34 lead early-stage deals, respectively.
For perspective we lay out the 13 most active Series A and B investors below:
Notably, a majority of the most active lead investors did more deals in the first half of this year than the prior six-month period. In part, this ties in to the broader narrative we’ve seen expressed in the data, indicating that investors are more bullish about early stage than late stage. Because Series A and B deals are typically years away from exit, near-term factors, such as a shuttered IPO window and falling public valuations, are less of a concern.
However, the somewhat upbeat early-stage deal counts should be interpreted with a caveat: Things looked sunnier in Q1 than Q2 of this year. For Tiger and most others on our list, round counts across stages were higher in the first quarter and declined in the second.
These were the most active overall
Lastly, we look at the most active investors by deal counts at seed stage and beyond.
Here again, Tiger leads, with 231 deals. But this time Y Combinator ranks decisively in the No. 2 slot, backing at least 203 known rounds in the first half of the year.
For a broader picture, we list the 12 most active investors across stages below:
The list contains a mix of cross-stage firms like Sequoia, Accel and Insight, along with seed-focused investors including Y Combinator and SOSV. Seed deals overall represent a high percentage of active investor round counts.
Notably, seed-stage investment is an area that has not seen the same contraction evident at later stage. For the first half of this year, global seed investment totals were actually higher than the prior six-month period, per Crunchbase data, with an estimated $20.1 billion invested.
Nonetheless, we did see some quarter-over-quarter decline this year, as Q2 seed funding was lower than Q1.
The big picture
Broadly, the most active investor findings show that the usual top names continue to dominate the funding scene. However, we are seeing SoftBank land lower in the rankings, no longer duking it out with Tiger for the No. 1 slot.
The dropoff in funding from Q1 to Q2 is significant and will be a trend to watch as we revisit active investor rankings in coming quarters. If current trendlines continue, we can expect the most active investors to be a bit less active.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
Tallying the total value of lead rounds that a firm led or co-led gives a general picture of that investor’s spending, but not an exact number. That’s because in most cases the firm co-invested in the round with others, and the exact size of each investor’s stake is rarely disclosed. However, when a firm leads or co-leads a round, we can generally assume that it contributed anywhere from a double-digit percentage of the total to most or all of the round.↩
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