Despite December Worries, Big Rounds And New Funds Kick Off The New Year

Morning Markets: It’s too early in the quarter to fully understand how hot the startup market is as 2019 begins, but some early signs look positive.

Just halfway through January, it’s too soon to prognosticate about what’s going to happen in the world of startups, venture capital, and liquidity through the public markets (there’s a lot going on there) this quarter. But we can look at the early signs and see what they have to tell us.

To the tea leaves!

Divination For Dorks

Before writing this short article, I expected to look at both Monday and Tuesday of this week to find continued momentum in two areas: supergiant rounds and freshly raised venture funds. But this morning alone was enough.

During Tuesday so far, three things have happened that point to a still-healthy venture market, at least domestically. The apparent slowdown in China will take a bit longer to sort out, but we’ll get to it. I promise.

Here’s today’s big news:

  1. Maverick Ventures raised a $382 million “evergreen fund.” TechCrunch’s Kate Clark wrote about this today, noting that the firm was put together just a few years ago as “the venture arm of 25-year-old hedge fund Maverick Capital.” The new money will be targeted at early-stage companies and follow-up investments.
  2. Enterprise software unicorn Rubrik picked up $261 million at a new valuation of $3.3 billion, which Forbes notes is far above its prior $1.3 billion valuation earned during the spring of 2017. That’s quick value creation, on paper at least, and is one of the most interesting supergiant (more on the concept here) rounds that we have seen to date in 2019.
  3. Finally, Knock raised $400 million to help with its home selling business. Our own Mary Ann covered the news this morning. What to take away, in this case, is that big supergiant rounds can still happen domestically even if the stock market did a bit of a wobble in December.

That brings me to the stock market. Today, as I write to you, the tech-heavy Nasdaq index has recovered from its lows to trade just under the 7,000 mark. Now, that’s still a thousand points under its 52-week (and all-time) high it set in 2018. But the index is mostly back to where it was at the start of last year. That wasn’t a bad time for tech stocks or tech startups.

So things feel kinda back? I was hearing rumblings of a slowdown in December from investors, but it’s a bit hard to square that with the rounds above. We’ll see, but I was expecting a bit more nothing as 2019 wound into gear.

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