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Most Active Investors Pare Dealmaking In First Half Of 2023

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The money and deal counts required to rank among the most active startup investors have come down dramatically in the past couple years.

For the first half of 2023, the seven busiest global venture investors collectively led 80 rounds, per Crunchbase data. That’s a decline of 78% from the year-ago period, when the seven most active firms led 364 rounds.

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The names leading our rankings have seen some major shuffling as well. While Tiger Global Management and SoftBank used to reliably top the list of spendiest and most active startup backers, both firms have pulled back hard amid the market downturn. Meanwhile, Andreessen Horowitz, New Enterprise Associates and Lightspeed Venture Partners have risen in the ranks.

For perspective, we chart out the seven most active lead venture and growth investors for the the first half of 2023 below:

Notably, out of all the firms listed above, only one — Left Lane Capital — did more deals in the past six months than in the same period last year. It helps that the Brooklyn-based firm closed on a $1.4 billion second fund in April 2022, providing plentiful dry powder to put to work.

Two other firms on the list — NEA and Google Ventures — have picked up the pace since the second half of 2022, but are still down year over year. And General Catalyst has held steady, with 11 lead rounds in each of the past two half-year periods.

Spendiest investors

For the most part, lead investors are also spending less than they used to on traditional venture rounds. However, a couple of unusual, jumbo-sized rounds in the first quarter did serve to boost the 2023 totals.

For the first half of the year, the largest deal by a long shot was the $10 billion Microsoft-backed round for OpenAI, a self-described “capped profit company governed by a nonprofit.” That lone investment catapulted Microsoft to the top of the ranking of investors who led or co-led the most expensive collection of rounds in H1, listed below:

After Microsoft, we see a number of firms that co-led 2023’s other ginormous financing, the $6.5 billion March Series I for payments unicorn Stripe. This includes Thrive Capital, Founders Fund, MSD Partners, General Catalyst, Bailie Gifford and Andreessen Horowitz — or six of the 10 names on our list above.

Busiest seed backers

Of all startup investment stages, seed tends to be the least impacted by market cycles. Since companies at this stage are so far from any conceivable exit, the current state of stock indices, the IPO market or M&A makes little difference.

The most active investor rankings reflect some of this nonchalance. The top names on the list haven’t shifted much in the past couple years. And famed accelerator Y Combinator continues to hold on to its top ranking, as shown below:

Techstars, which has landed in the No. 2 slot for several prior quarters, is also holding its spot, and Antler, an accelerator platform that operates in 25 cities across six continents, came in at No. 3.

A slowdown, or a new normal?

With venture funding slowing for several quarters now, it’s not surprising to see the usual most active investors also cutting back some.

Will things rev up again? We’re seeing some signs of increasing liveliness in the M&A and IPO markets, which tends to be a bullish indicator for venture funding. The seed pipeline also looks pretty robust.

For now, however, the typical heavy spenders in the startup world are still by and large holding back.

Illustration: Dom Guzman


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