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From The Editor’s Desk: Our Most-Read Stories Of The Year

From the Editor's Desk

In a year when seemingly everything in the startup world broke records—from venture funding to startup M&A, IPO proceeds to investment in sectors from cybersecurity to biotech—Crunchbase News had a lot to write about.

Looking back at our most-read stories of 2021, it was no surprise that coverage of IPOs and SPACs, emerging new startup hubs, and highly funded startups rose to the top. Here’s a closer look at our most popular coverage from this year.

Under the hood at Stripe: For much of this year, payments processing startup Stripe held the title as the most highly valued venture-backed private company in the U.S. While it’s since lost that title to SpaceX—valued at $100.3 billion as of this writing—Stripe is arguably the most anticipated IPO of 2022. Given Stripe’s $95 billion valuation and its pivotal role in e-commerce, Senior Data Editor Gené Teare took a deep dive into its business model.

Who went public in 2021: This was a record year for the IPO markets, with close to 400 companies making traditional public-market debuts. While we didn’t track every single one of them, Reporter Sophia Kunthara did follow along as the most prominent venture-backed tech startups went public—and beyond, as their shares traded on an often volatile market.

The startups going public via SPAC: Speaking of going public, Sophia also tracked the venture-backed startups going public via special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, as these blank-check mergers became an increasingly popular route to the public markets. As Senior Reporter Chris Metinko noted at the start of the year, after many of these blank-check acquirers raised money in 2020, the pressure was on in 2021 to find targets to merge with.

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How Tiger Global earned its stripes: Tiger Global Management, a 20-year-old New York-based investing firm that’s part hedge fund, part private equity investor, this year quietly became the most prolific investor in unicorn startups and also significantly picked up the pace at which it deployed capital. That’s from an analysis of the firm Gené and I did earlier this year. Since we wrote that piece, Tiger has continued to invest at a rapid-fire pace, helping to turn 2021 into the biggest year for global venture investment to date.

Miami is hot, hot, hot: Miami was in the spotlight as the next startup hub this year, as founders and investors liberated by the new world of remote work found the Sunshine State calling. High-profile startup investors including Founders Fund general partner Keith Rabois and Blumberg Capital founder David Blumberg moved to South Florida in 2020, and as this year began, the buzz was that Miami would continue to draw more people from Silicon Valley. Contributing Reporter Joanna Glasner checked in again recently to see whether the Miami hype held up as the year wore on—and found that it largely did.

Investors click “buy” on Amazon aggregators: Venture investors this year dipped deep into their pockets to fund Thrasio and other startups known as third-party seller aggregators. These startups, which roll up successful third-party companies that sell through large retail sites like Amazon and Walmart, have raised billions this year. The most highly funded in the space continues to be Thrasio—which last month closed a $1 billion Series D—but others including Branded, Razor Group and Elevate Brands also raked in tons of capital as the year progressed, as Chris recently noted.

Inside a16z’s best year yet: A decade after one of its co-founders wrote the five words that would go on to define the future of Silicon Valley—“software is eating the world”—venture firm Andreessen Horowitz had its best exit year in 2021. A16z, as the firm is also known, closed out the first half of the year with its biggest exit yet—Coinbase’s direct listing—under its belt. It also significantly increased its investing pace this year, Gené and I found in our analysis.

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More startups bet on menopause market: In the field of women’s health, much of the medical advancement until now has been focused on birth control and fertility treatments, but startups and venture capitalists are increasingly turning to menopause as an area ripe for innovation, former contributing writer Christine Hall found in her reporting. The space represents $600 billion of spending opportunity, investors estimated, but is still largely untapped by startups and brands that could be creating new products and services for these women.

What Katerra’s collapse means for proptech investing: Katerra, once the most highly funded and valued startup in the construction tech space, this year abruptly filed for bankruptcy protection, a spectacular demise for a company that had raised some $2 billion from private-company investors. But even after the sector’s biggest unicorn imploded, venture capitalists who spoke with Sophia said they’re still bullish on the construction tech space overall, though investing more cautiously.

LatAm’s unicorn herd multiplies: Startup investors have been putting a lot of capital into Latin America for the past couple of years. Now they have something to show for it: A large and fast-growing stable of unicorns, Joanna noted. Her August tally found 23 LatAm unicorns—a number that’s surely grown again since and will continue to do so in the new year, following high-profile exits from the region including Nubank’s recent IPO.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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