Startups Venture

Top Investors In January: Gaingels, Tiger Global And Insight Lead The Way In Investments In US Startups

Illustration of a jar labeled Jan full of money.

This is a new monthly feature that runs down the most active investors in U.S.-based companies, looks at some of their most interesting investments, and includes some odds and ends of who spent what.

The private capital market plowed on in January despite some shakiness in the stock market—and the startup investors leading the way in the U.S. likely come as little surprise.

Gaingels, Tiger Global and Insight Partners had an active January, each with double-digit deal activity. Let’s look which investors did what and some of their most notable deals last month, according to Crunchbase data:

Gaingels, 24 deals

New York-based Gaingels, which invests in companies with diverse and inclusive leadership teams, had a busy month, taking part in 24 deals. Those investments include alternative leather company TomTex, alternative financing platform Capchase, and Japanese snack company Bokksu.

While all those are interesting, the firm also took part in the $27.5 million seed round of Bellevue, Washington-based Radian, which is building a “reusable horizontal takeoff and landing, single-stage to orbit spaceplane.” Spacetech had a big year in 2021, but cost has long been something of a concern in the industry since not everyone has the pocketbooks of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. Radian claims that advancements in “materials science, miniaturization and manufacturing technologies” have made its low-orbit spaceplane possible—although no exact timeline for its debut has been revealed.

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Tiger Global, 16 deals

You knew it wouldn’t take Tiger Global long to turn up on this list. While Tiger made a plethora of investments in the first month of the year—more than 40, in fact—only about a third were in U.S.-based startups.

While Tiger invests in a lot of sectors, it can get pegged as a software or  fintech investor. You usually don’t think of Tiger investing in, say, a digital farmers market. So maybe that’s why its investment in Portland-based MilkRun catches the eye. The company is an online marketplace and delivery service that connects consumers and chefs with local farmers. Tiger led the $75 million round—which will buy a lot of granola and organic eggs.

Insight Partners, 15 deals

Similar to Tiger, Insight Partners was busy globally in the first month of 2022, with more than two dozen deals. It also took part in some huge rounds, like those by 6sense and FTX—which Tiger also did.

But the Insight round that may be most interesting that went to a U.S.-based company was its participation in project44’s $420 million raise. The Chicago logistics technology company provides visibility into the entire shipment workflow for companies. While that may not sound exciting, it is to investors. Supply chain tech exploded last year due to disruptions caused by the pandemic and workforce issues. The round shows that interest has not waned.

Y Combinator, 14 deals

Y Combinator—an always active investor—participated in 34 rounds in the first month of the year, according to Crunchbase data.

Just like other early investor on this list, Gaingels, the deal that caught our attention is in the space sector. Y Combinator took part in the $2.7 million seed round for Los Angeles-based Epsilon3, a developer of operating systems for spacecraft and complex operations. While so many are concerned with spacecraft and satellites, a modernized operating system for launch operations for these multimillion-dollar missions only makes sense.

Andreessen Horowitz, 12 deals

Since it’s Super Bowl week, let’s talk about Tom Brady. If you are a football bettor, you know it was always smart to put money on the seven-time Super Bowl champion.

I’m not sure if Andreessen Horowitz is much into sports gambling—it has invested in fantasy sports app Sleeper—but it is doing the same. The firm co-led Autograph’s $170 million Series B last month. The company helps athletes and entertainers launch and promote their NFTs. Both Brady, who is an investor in FTX, and Andreessen Horowitz have been early adopters of crypto, so this seems like a perfect marriage.

Global Founders Capital, 12 deals

Global Founders Capital’s participation in Irvine, California-based Frost Giant Studios’ $25 million Series A stands out only because the firm is usually so concentrated on software, fintech and e-commerce. The studio focuses on real-time strategy games for competitive gaming. January was a big month for gaming, with Microsoft announcing its acquisition of Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion, and Take-Two Interactive‘s acquisition of mobile gaming company Zynga for $12.7 billion. With deals of those sizes, maybe placing a few bets on gaming makes sense.

Accel, 9 deals

Accel made almost two dozen investments last month, and perhaps they would have made more if they had a way to be more productive.

Enter it’s most interesting investment in January: San Francisco-based Clockwise. The company has developed an “intelligent calendar system” that uses AI to help users create dedicated blocks of time so they can be more productive. Clockwise itself was productive last month, closing a $45 million Series C led by Coatue, but with the help of Accel and other investors.

SoftBank Vision Fund, 9 deals

Similar to Tiger and Insight, SoftBank Vision Fund also was busy last month, but only about a third of its deals were in the U.S. and spread over a vast field that includes blockchain, enterprise software, agtech and more.

However, maybe the most interesting deal was one that fell outside those typical areas: Alto Pharmacy. SoftBank led the telehealth pharmacy’s $200 million Series E last month. The company works with doctors and insurance providers to deliver prescriptions to patients’ doors. According to Crunchbase data, the company has raised more than $600 million in capital, as it looks to compete with large retail behemoths like Walmart that have moved into the space in recent years.

Also notable

  • The next four firms on the list with eight deals each involving U.S.-based companies were Bain Capital Ventures, Coatue, Lightspeed Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates.
  • Not surprising, Tiger and Insight led the most rounds involving U.S.-based companies with 11 and 10, respectively.
  • However, it was Blackstone (along with funds it manages) and D1 Capital Partners that led rounds worth the most. Blackstone and its funds led two rounds totaling $3.2 billion last month, including a $3 billion deal involving Chicago-based sustainable energy provider Invenergy.
  • D1 led rounds worth $2.6 billion, including the $1.7 billion deal involving Novi, Michigan-based Lineage Logistics.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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