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Most Active US Investors In November: Techstars And Gaingels Lead The Way As Growth Giants Are MIA

Image of money-filled glass jar labeled Nov

This is a 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. Check out last month’s feature here.

November was another down month in venture, as VCs continue to pull back in a chilly market.

The current state of the market seems to have frozen the wallets of some big-named VC firms that went big last year. In November 2021, Tiger Global made 25 deals. Last month that number dropped to five.

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Similarly, General Catalyst took part in 19 funding rounds in November of last year. The VC giant took part in only a half-dozen last month.

The lack of firms doing a few dozen in a month allowed a couple accelerators — Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator and Y Combinator — to claim two of the top four spots.

In fact, only three firms made a dozen or more deals last month. It makes you curious as to what December — usually a slow month — may bring.

Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator, 13 deals

The accelerator announced its newest class of startups looking to use innovative technologies to shake up the labor market. There were several interesting companies looking to change the way anything from recruiting to career development can be accomplished.

One of the startups included in the latest batch announced early last month was Skylyte, which provides burnout awareness and burnout training to help keep employees happy and healthy.

The company — which thinks of itself as a “digital chief wellness officer” — uses data to track behavior changes and mood trends to follow team health. While obviously benefiting their employee, it also can benefit the company by cutting down on employee churn and increasing productivity.

The pandemic showed how unhappy many are in the working world and some of the mental health challenges people face. In a still tight labor market, tracking work burnout is something some employers may want to look into.

Gaingels, 13 deals

Gaingels makes it back to this list after a month away.

One of its baker’s dozen of investments last month included a pretty big $20 million seed round for Seattle-based aerospace startup Gravitics.

However, the company isn’t just any aerospace startup — it develops space station modules. Its StarMax module provides up to 400 cubic meters of habitable volume. That is nearly half the volume of the International Space Station in just one StarMax module. The modules are also compatible to launch on any of the several vehicles now rocketing to space.

As space becomes more and more accessible, we’ll want to stretch and spread out. Gravitics may allow us to do that.

Andreessen Horowitz, 12 deals

Andreessen Horowitz is another good example of a firm that went big last year, but somewhat smaller now. It took part in 22 rounds in November 2021, but only a dozen last month.

However, it did participate in some interesting rounds. Always big on crypto and Web3 startups, the round that caught our eye hit a little closer to home for us.

The firm took part in a seed round for the just-launched Post News, a social media platform that publishes news. The platform is trying to be a more civilized social media site (yes, good luck with that) and focus on writing and news.

The site will look to offer articles “different premium news providers” users can buy (yes, actually paying for news!) and curate more civil discourse.

It’s both sad and funny that these concepts seem so novel in today’s world, but they do. With Twitter in chaos, maybe now is the time for more alternatives.

Y Combinator, 11 deals

The accelerator giant was busy in November and again invested in some diverse offerings. That included participating in a $7 million seed round for Courtyard, a platform that provides liquidity through NFTs for collectibles.

So how does it work? Good question. You ship your collectable — like a valuable baseball card or comic book — and the San Francisco-based startup authenticates it and stores it. Courtyard then will create a “connected collectible” — think NFT — that you can then trade on blockchain.

Each time your connected collectible is sold after the initial sale, you will still receive 1% of each future sale until the physical collectible is finally redeemed. If you are the original owner and don’t sell the NFT, you can redeem it back for your physical collectible with no withdrawal fees.

With the popularity of NFTs waning, who knows if it’ll last? But it’s an interesting model that allows collectors to receive passive income.

Also notable

  • Hawaii-based Elemental Excelerator and New York-based BoxGroup came in next on the list with eight and seven deals, respectively.
  • Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator led or co-led the most rounds in November with 13. Andreessen Horowitz came in next with nine rounds led or co-led.
  • Bain Capital Life Sciences led or co-led rounds totaling the most dollars for the month. The firm led or co-led two rounds that totaled nearly $400 million — including biotech startup Emalex Biosciences’ $250 million Series D.

Illustration: Dom Guzman


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