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.
Seven firms took part in a dozen or more funding deals to U.S.-based startups in March, including big names such as Tiger Global, Andreessen Horowitz and Insight Partners. While that seems like a significant number, it is off from 13 firms participating in a dozen or more deals in March 2021.
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Let’s look at the most active investors in U.S.-based startups last month:
Gaingels, 21 deals
New York-based Gaingels has been as busy as any firm when it comes to investing in domestic startups. For the third straight month it led the way while investing in more than 20 companies. The firm—which invests in companies with diverse and inclusive leadership teams—also spreads out its investments into a variety of sectors, ranging from no-code platforms (Dorian) to fintech (Jeeves) to foodtech (Finless Foods).
One of the smaller rounds Gaingels participated in last month was an $800,000 pre-seed round for Newport Beach, California-based SoundMind. The company’s app helps users track their mood, find better relaxation and improve their mental health through music therapy. It can even incorporate emergency contacts a user may want notified if they are dealing with issues.
Mental health has become something everyone pays more attention to these days, and new ways to tackle it certainly attracts investors.
Andreessen Horowitz, 17 deals
We’ve kind of been taken by the money pouring into Web3 developers and all aspects of the decentralized web—especially after India-based Polygon Technology closed a $450 million round at a reported $13 billion valuation, and San Francisco-based Alchemy raised a $200 million “Series C-1” that valued the company at $10.2 billion earlier this year.
Andreessen Horowitz also must have been noticing. The firm led a $200 million “strategic” investment in Palo Alto, California-based Aptos valuing it at $1 billion. The company was founded by ex-Meta employees, and the round included other notable investors Tiger Global, FTX Ventures and Coinbase Ventures, according to TechCrunch. The company is creating a Layer 1 system blockchain, meaning it will not sit on Ethereum or another network, but be its own decentralized network.
Tiger Global, 17 deals
While much has been made about a potential Tiger pull back in the market, its numbers remain on par with last year.
One of the places it invested in last month was a platform that helps with, well, investments. Tiger led a $100 million round at a $4 billion pre-money valuation for startup, investment and employment site AngelList. While the 12-year-old site helps others find investment, it traditionally has not taken in a lot of engagement itself. It now has raised just more than $125 million, according to Crunchbase data. However, the company had an eventful 2021, saying in a blog post that almost 200 unicorns raised capital from GPs on AngelList, and 19 companies went public.
Alumni Ventures, 15
Alumni Ventures had a busy March, making 15 investments in U.S.-based startups. While that number is down from last March when it participated in 24 rounds, it also is still on a similar pace overall—having taken part in 51 U.S.-based deals in the first quarter compared to 58 in the first quarter last year.
One of its more interesting deals is part of a larger overall trend going on—increased investment in artificial intelligence. Although the promise of AI has been around for a long time, the ability to execute on the idea has been difficult due modern-day limitations concerning compute and memory.
Mountain View, California-based Luminous Computing is looking to push past those boundaries. The company closed a $105 million Series A—which included an investment from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Luminous is building a supercomputer capable of more easily running sophisticated AI applications.
The AI space seems to be heating up, as others also have attracted interest. Sunnyvale, California-based AI computer system developer Cerebras raised a $250 million Series F last November, and in February, San Jose, California-based Celestial AI closed a $56 million Series A.
Insight Partners, 14 deals
However, the deal that caught our attention didn’t involve an emerging market or odd sector. Instead it was all about speed.
Insight led a $115 million Series B in Dallas-based Island, which offers an enterprise browser that the company says enhances both security and productivity of workers. What’s unusual about that? The round valued Island at $1.3 billion—just seven weeks after it came out of stealth and announced a $100 million Series A.
While the venture market seems to be showing signs of slowing and valuations declining, there are moments when you question reality.
Sequoia Capital, 14 deals
Sequoia led an $8.5 million seed round into the platform—which offers access to a community of experts to help people get discovered. The idea behind Protege is to level out the opportunity for anyone to get “found” and get personal one-on-one advice from those in the know. Sequoia was not the only noticeable name in the round, as Will Smith, NBA star Ben Simmons and Lionel Richie also participated in the round.
Y Combinator, 12 deals
Y Combinator takes part in a lot of seed rounds every month, but one caught our eye—especially in this exploding housing market.
The startup accelerator participated in a $2 million seed round for Kansas City-based HomeRoom. The company has a simple business mode—it lets you become the landlord for rental properties. HomeRoom sources properties in cities that are attractive to young people, arranges capital and construction, vets tenants and even collects rents. It renovates the properties it buys in just about 20 days before finding renters.
With rents rising on inflation, others may soon be attracted to similar models.
- Rounding out the top 10 investors by deal count is Lightspeed Venture Partners with 11, and both Accel and Founders Fund with nine.
- Insight finished first in rounds led or co-led in March with a dozen, while both Tiger and Andreessen Horowitz came in second with nine rounds led or co-led for the month.
- In one of the more odd developments last month, General Motors led or co-led rounds worth the most—with one round totaling $1.4 billion. The round was for San Francisco-based autonomous car developer Cruise. Of course, GM only came through with the money after SoftBank Vision Fund decided to exit its stake in the company and its commitment to pay $1.4 billion once the company started operating fully driverless cars.
- Andreessen Horowitz came in just behind GM, with the firm leading or co-leading rounds last month worth a total of $1.2 billion.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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