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.
Even as talk persisted of a slowdown in venture dollars going to startups and valuations being cut, the likes of Tiger Global, Insight Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Lightspeed Venture Partners all announced more deals in U.S.-based startups last month than they did in January.
However, that does not mean those firms invested more dollars or at the same valuations they did in earlier periods. It also is likely many of these rounds announced were closed late last year or in January. Nevertheless, the numbers do seem to show strong deal flow was still to be had among big-name firms.
Let’s look at the 10 most active investors in U.S.-based startups last month:
Gaingels, 24 deals
New York-based Gaingels again led the way in number of investments for the month with two dozen in February. The firm—which invests in companies with diverse and inclusive leadership teams—had a large variety of startup interest last month, ranging from San Francisco-based Lovewick, an app that claims to help couples stay in love, to Los Angeles-based DNABLOCK, a 3D animation platform that enables users to create cinema-quality animated content.
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But the deal that caught our attention was the $16.2 million round it took part in for Xplore. The Redmond, Washington-based company offers “space-as-a-service”—basically offering data, sensor and satellite services to collect data from the final frontier that could be used for commercial purposes or other needed intelligence. It’s a very different kind of SaaS than we’re used to.
Tiger Global, 23 deals
There’s been a lot of talk of Tiger pulling back on some of the large growth rounds it funded and focusing more on early rounds. While that all could be true, Tiger still remains ferociously busy. Not only did the New York-based investment firm take part in nearly two dozen deals involving U.S.-based startups last month, it led or co-led 16 of those rounds—a number beat only by Insight Partners’ 17 deals for the month.
It’s also interesting to note Tiger took part in some huge rounds, such as Philadelphia-based dbt Labs’ $222 million Series D at a $4.2 billion valuation, San Francisco-based Helium’s $200 million Series D at a $1.2 billion valuation, and San Francisco-based Flutterwave’s $250 million Series D at a more than $3 billion valuation.
However, the most interesting round may be the $150 million Series E that Tiger led in Atlanta-based Flock Safety, which has developed a public safety operating system being used in more than 1,500 cities to fight crime. The platform uses devices in the field that capture evidence—such as license plates—and machine learning to create and deliver “unbiased” investigative leads to law enforcement.
Insight Partners, 20 deals
Like Tiger, Insight Partners upped its number of deals from January to February—announcing 20 compared to 15, and leading or co-leading 17 compared to 10.
The most eye-catching of those rounds may be the $20 million it invested into Berkeley, California-based startup Kintsugi. The company detects signs of clinical depression and anxiety from short clips of free-form speech. With everyone talking about mental health today—and taking it more seriously—the idea to spot problems early, close mental health care gaps, and possibly save lives is certainly an interesting investment.
Andreessen Horowitz, 17 deals
Andreessen Horowitz took part in a few rounds already mentioned, including those for dbt Labs and Flock Safety, but the most noticeable round may be one it led.
While the VC giant led rounds in startups including San Francisco-based e-commerce tool Alloy Automation and San Francisco-based freight forwarder Flexport, the deal that caught our eye was the $60 million Series A into metaverse land developer Everyrealm.
The New York-based company, formerly called Republic Realm, invests in and develops virtual land plots in NFT-based metaverse game worlds such as The Sandbox, which is also an investor—kind of like a Simon Property Group of the digital world.
The digital land developer also has attracted other big-name firms like Lightspeed Venture Partners, Coinbase Ventures and even Paris Hilton, someone whose family knows something about land development.
Lightspeed Venture Partners, 14 deals
Speaking of Lightspeed Venture Partners, the firm is next on the list with 14 deals announced last month, up from 10 in January and only four in February 2021.
The firm also participated in one of the most interesting rounds (to us) last month when it co-led with Silver Lake a new $200 million “Series C-1” round for San Francisco-based Alchemy. The new round tripled the company’s valuation to $10.2 billion in less than four months.
Alchemy bills itself as the AWS of blockchain in the sense that it provides tools and hosting for those wanting to transact on blockchain and Web3—just as Amazon did for those who wanted hosted businesses on the cloud. Startups helping push Web3 developers are starting to see significant heat, and Lightspeed struck fast in the space last month.
Y Combinator, 13 deals
Y Combinator is always active, but the majority of its investments tend to lean toward software—at least according to Crunchbase data.
That’s why its investment in Long Beach, California-based Odys Aviation was noticeable. The company is an aircraft startup that makes hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft for regional mobility. The company seeks to cut travel time in half on some of the busiest regional routes. Its website uses the example of cutting travel between Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and Santa Monica down to less than two hours, whereas travel via a commercial flight would take more than four hours.
It’s sometimes hard to keep track of everything going on in aviation between space, VTOL and other private aviation companies. However, Odys and companies including San Francisco-based XWING, which develops technologies for VTOL aircrafts and closed a $40 million round last year, show interest remains in the space.
SoftBank Vision Fund, 13 deals
It’s hard to pick out just one round when you look at SoftBank Vision Fund, because the fund is not just busy—it’s busy juggling large rounds. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 last month led a $425 million Series E for Fremont, California-based e-grocer Weee, and a $1.35 billion round for San Francisco-based Cruise. Along with that, it participated in a $935 million round for Flexport and a $450 million round for India-based Polygon.
It’s also notable that SoftBank is doubling down on its investing strategy. While the firm announced 13 deals in February—compared to nine in January—what is really striking is that it had only announced four deals through the first two months of last year.
- Both Sequoia Capital and GV were next on the list with 12 deals last month, followed by Techstars, General Catalyst and Alumni Ventures with 10 each.
- Insight and Tiger finished first and second in rounds led or co-led in February. SoftBank Vision Fund was next with 10 rounds led or co-led, followed by Andreessen Horowitz with six, and Accel with five.
- Softbank Vision Fund led or co-led rounds worth the most—with the 10 rounds it led totaling $3 billion. Tiger Global, Andreessen Horowitz and Vista Equity Partners also led or co-led rounds that in total were worth $1 billion or more last month.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.
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