Economy Layoffs Startups Venture

From Layoffs To Valuation Cuts, These Were Our 10 Most-Read Stories Of 2022

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If 2021 was characterized by record-setting wins in the startup, IPO and venture capital world, 2022 was the complete opposite. 

With layoffs, massive funding pullbacks and an overall sense of doom clouding the economy, we naturally saw attention drawn to our coverage of those issues. Readers want to be prepared and understandably gravitated toward our reporting on why these unfortunate economic events are happening.

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Layoffs specifically drew interest from readers, namely our updated tracker of tech companies that cut workers in a given week. This year we also launched The Crunchbase Unicorn Board, where we list the most valuable private companies in the world, and our Emerging Unicorn Board of up-and-coming unicorns.

1. Weekly tech layoffs: Earlier this year we noticed the uptick and then steady pace of tech companies laying off workers. Hence, we began tracking those numbers — seeking tips from readers and also watching for the latest layoff news. As of mid-December, 90,000 workers in the U.S. tech sector have been laid off in mass job cuts so far in 2022. Companies large and small made unfortunate debuts on this list, which we will continue to update throughout 2023.

2. The Crunchbase Unicorn Board: Earlier this year, we launched our curated list of private unicorn companies with post-money valuations of $1 billion or more. New companies are added to the board as they reach the $1 billion valuation mark as part of a funding round. Data for companies already on the leaderboard is updated when there is a new funding round announced.

3. Layoff analysis: Consistently throughout the year, we have paused to reflect on what our layoff tracker told us. These analyses (including this one written by reporter Chris Metinko in May and others written later in the year by Sophia Kunthara and Keerthi Vendatam) provided thoughtful insight on the road ahead.

4. Emerging Unicorn Board:  In addition to the Unicorn Board, we also launched the Crunchbase Emerging Unicorn Board this year to track global private companies on the path to achieving unicorn status. Powered by Crunchbase’s comprehensive data, this list is updated as companies reach a valuation of $500 million or more but less than $1 billion and consistently drew readers this year.

5. VCs spent billions on scooters, with little to show for it: Five years ago, the scooters came. These nimble little vehicles offered riders a quick trip to work or a quick trip to the ER, depending on who you asked. Scooter mania spread worldwide, fueled by more than $5 billion in total funding. Since then, many scooter stocks have been tossed aside with Bird just a penny stock. We wrote about the industry and readers took an interest in what we had to say.

6. The VC reset: Senior Data Editor Gené Teare has done a stellar job this year providing monthly recaps of funding at every stage. This report from May held particular appeal for readers as it illustrated that while late-stage and technology-growth investing have been most severely impacted, seed funding remains surprisingly robust (at the time, anyway). Times have certainly changed since then.

7. Global VC pullback dramatic in Q3: With our recap of Q3 data, we could definitively say that the big global venture capital pullback we were all expecting had arrived. Venture and growth investors in private companies scaled back their investment pace significantly as the slump in the public markets stretched into the third quarter.

8. Self-driving truck upstart Embark: From $5B+ to basically worthless: San Francisco-headquartered Embark, which develops autonomous driving technology for the trucking industry, has presided over a roughly 98% share price decline since going public a year ago. In the process, it’s wiped out close to $5 billion in market capitalization. Contributing reporter Joanna Glasner dove into the company’s numbers and her insights struck a chord with readers.

9. VCs embrace a new type of dating app: Nothing better than a startup dating story in February. We wrote about a fresh crop of dating startups getting venture funding to help people find connections in new mediums.

10. Y Combinator warns of economic downturn: In May, accelerator Y Combinator warned the good times may be coming to an end for startups and the venture market. “No one can predict how bad the economy will get, but things don’t look good,” the letter said. The warning came shortly after SoftBank announced it would become much more selective in investments after posting a loss of $27.7 billion on investments in its Vision Fund for its just-ended fiscal year.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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