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As Investors Pivot To Seed And Growth, Who Is Left Leading Series A?

Series A funding round sizes have grown significantly in recent years.  

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Over the past decade, the average global Series A round increased from less than $6 million to more than $18 million, Crunchbase data shows. The median has grown from $3 million to $10 million over the same time period. 1

However, the trend is clear. 

Series A funding still shows a wide range, but with both the median and average up more than threefold through the decade, raising a Series A funding round has become a high bar for startups to clear.

General partner Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures wrote in a post earlier this month on the changing venture landscape that “A-Rounds used to be $3–7 million with the best companies able to skip this smaller amount and raise $10 million on a $40 million pre-money valuation (20% dilution). These days $10 million is quaint for the best A-Rounds and many are raising $20 million at $60–80 million pre-money valuations (or greater).”

Global Average Series A funding from 2012 to August 2021

Over the last decade, we have seen an expansion in fund managers at seed, alongside the early-stage funds that used to focus at Series A, repositioning to seed.  

“What used to be an ‘A’ round in 2011 is now routinely called a Seed round,” Suster wrote, “and this has been so engrained that founders would rather take less money than to have to put the words ‘A round’ in their legal documents.”

Upfront Ventures’ earliest-stage investment is about 70 percent seed and 30 percent pre-seed, he said. “We’re very unlikely to do what people now call an ‘A Round.’ ” 

Who is investing at Series A?

Given these changes in the venture landscape, who is investing at Series A?

We looked at leading investors at Series A in both 2021 and 2020 to get a sense of how the venture climate has shifted in just over a year. 

What we found: Insight Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global have invested the most dollars at Series A in 2021 to date. 

Insight Partners led 28 of these fundings with an average of $47 million and a median of $20 million, per Crunchbase data. Andreessen has led or co-led 29 Series A rounds this year to date, at an average much lower than Insight Partners at $24 million. And Tiger Global is the third-largest investor with 11 deals averaging $46 million. 

Among the investors listed, those with the lowest averages are Craft Ventures, Canaan Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Accel and Spark Capital, each with an average Series A round below $20 million. 

The majority of the firms on our list of Series A leaders have a median funding size below $20 million, Crunchbase data shows. 

Active venture and private equity investors in Series A in 2021

In 2020, leading investors at Series A were GV—which invested heavily in health care—GGV Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.  Overall, the averages and medians were lower last year among investors who put the most money to work leading Series A fundings when compared to 2021. 

Active venture and private equity investors in Series A in 2020

The barbell

Crunchbase data shows that Series A funding globally is up significantly year over year—though, of course, that’s also the case with every other funding stage this year. Even with four months to go before the end of 2021, Series A funding will exceed the record set in 2018. 

We also looked at the number of deals, and found that funding counts of at least $3 million are down a bit since 2018. 

Series A venture funding from 2012 to August 2021

Who leads?

The most active firms at Series A today are multistage venture firms with deep pockets, along with some newer entrants from growth equity firms. 

But when reviewing year-over-year deals for leading firms, not every firm saw an increase in average or median size in 2021. This confirms that at Series A, there are still a wide range of deal sizes to be done — and opportunities. 

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the average Series A for Insight Partners in 2021.

  1. The most recent averages will likely come down a bit as smaller Series A rounds are added to the Crunchbase data over time.

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