Here at Crunchbase News we’ve had a fascination with Utah for a while.
We’ve written about the state’s burgeoning startup scene before and covered a number of funding rounds for Utah-based companies. It feels like unicorns are coming out of Utah more frequently than one would expect of a place that isn’t the Bay Area or New York.
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According to a new report by the nonprofit business networking organization, last year was the strongest in Utah history in terms of the total value of transactions. Although the total number of deals didn’t change much year over year, deals in the state reached a value of $25 billion, up from $14 billion in 2018.
Utah is home to a number of unicorns and near-unicorns (Lucid Software, Podium, Divvy and Weave to name a few). It’s an interesting region with an extremely active startup ecosystem of its own. But it’s one thing to see high valuations for startups and another to see big, billion-dollar exits. Valuations are an indication, exits are validation.
Last year was a blockbuster for Utah in terms of big acquisitions. German enterprise software company SAP bought Qualtrics for $8 billion and health care company HealthEquity acquired WageWorks for $2.12 billion. Those were the only two $1 billion-plus exits, but there were other large exits as well– Control4 for $680 million, for example.
It wasn’t just big transactions that set records in Utah–last year proved strong on multiple fronts. According to Crunchbase data, Utah-based startups received $1.1 billion in venture capital funding, the highest dollar amount in the past five years. While the number of VC funding deals was down from the previous year (there were 135 deals in 2018, while there were 113 in 2019), there was $300 million more invested.
We should note, however, that $1.1 billion isn’t a huge jump from the amounts of venture capital the state pulled in the past–its companies also raised roughly $1 billion in 2015 and 2017, according to Crunchbase. But 2019 saw Utah-based companies pull in massive rounds, perhaps most notably Divvy’s $200 million Series C.
That’s it for now, but we will remain curious about what’s next for Utah in 2020. From what we’ve seen, we can certainly say the state’s startup scene is pulling in big rounds of cash and the total value of deals is up. Perhaps as more startups mature, we’ll see that as a larger trend.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias