Accel and Index Ventures are by far the most active investors in European unicorns over time. And their lead persists when it comes to investments in the new crop of 86 companies to join The Crunchbase Unicorn Board in 2021.
Palo Alto-based Accel tops the list with 60 investments in European unicorns that have not yet exited. Not far behind, San Francisco-based Index Ventures counts 45 investments.
Tied for the third most active investor in European unicorns by counts are London-based Balderton and Paris-based Eurazeo. London-based Northzone, originally from Oslo, is the fifth most active investor.
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All of these leading firms were founded in Europe except for Bay Area-based Accel, which has been on the ground in Europe investing in startups for the better part of two decades.
Growth equity firms Tiger Global, Insight, General Atlantic and SoftBank Vision Fund are the next five most active investors by counts. These firms are mostly New York-based, except for SoftBank Vision Fund, which is headquartered in London. Berlin-based Global Founders Capital, which invests heavily at the seed stage, is listed as the ninth most active.
It’s challenging to spot potentially highly-valued companies at the seed stage, when a startup is typically not much more than an idea.
LocalGlobe and Seedcamp (both headquartered in London), Vienna-based Speedinvest, and Berlin’s Global Founders Capital are the investors with the highest portfolio counts investing at seed in private unicorns.
Leading at Series A and B
Accel led the highest count of investments, 18, in Series A and B rounds. Index Ventures was the next most active with 13 investments led, and Balderton rounds out the top three with seven rounds led at Series A and B.
These leading investors at the early stage mirror the slots for the three most active investors by round counts. This means these firms invest early and continue to invest in subsequent funding rounds.
Leading at late-stage is the SoftBank Vision Fund, which has placed the most dollars into European unicorns in rounds it has led or co-led over time. Tiger Global is the second most active lead investor at late stage, and Index Ventures and General Atlantic share the third spot.
At each funding stage, a different set of investors is active in unicorns in Europe.
Growth investing showed the largest increase in 2021 with a more than 500 percent jump year over year. Early-stage investments grew more than 140 percent.
And seed-stage funding was down, as the companies that raised funding at seed in 2021 have not yet been anointed as high-growth companies.
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Crunchbase Pro queries relevant to this article
- European private unicorns (166)
- European exited unicorns (34)
- European fundings above $100 million in 2021 (305)
The Crunchbase Unicorn Board includes private unicorn companies with post-money valuations of $1 billion or more and is based on Crunchbase data. New companies are added to the Crunchbase list as they reach the $1 billion valuation mark as part of a funding round.
Please note that all funding values are given in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. Crunchbase converts foreign currencies to U.S. dollars at the prevailing spot rate from the date funding
Illustration: Dom Guzman
These counts do not include companies founded in Europe and headquartered elsewhere. ↩
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