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Spark Capital May Be Igniting Again

Illustration of money clip with $100 bills.

Spark Capital certainly came in like a lion this March.

The San Francisco-based firm — whose previous investments include Twitter, Oculus and Slack — made headlines earlier this month as the lead investor in San Francisco-based AI startup Anthropic’s $300 million round at a valuation of more than $4 billion.

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Less than a week after that news broke, Spark co-led another San Francisco company’s big round — this time Adept AI’s $350 million Series B that reportedly gave the startup a post-money valuation of at least $1 billion.

The two big rounds were a change of pace for Spark, which had significantly decreased its investment pace last year as the market cooled down and venture capital dramatically slowed — especially for big growth rounds.

Looking at the numbers

Like many firms, Spark Capital hit a high in dealmaking in 2021, per Crunchbase data. The company made 66 announced investments in deals that totaled $6.4 billion. It’smportant to note the amount any investor — including Spark Capital — invests as a specific stake in a round is not usually divulged.

Spark’s dealmaking pace hit a high in the second quarter that year, but has significantly slowed since.

Last year, Spark took part in 45 — a  more than 30% drop — rounds that totaled about $2 billion.

Both the Anthropic and Adept AI deals were large rounds to lead, which also is a recent change for the firm. Spark took a more hands-off approach to leading or co-leading big rounds last year when compared to 2021 — according to Crunchbase numbers.

In 2021, Spark led or co-led four rounds of more than $100 million:

  • Spark co-led New York-based blockchain security firm Fireblocks’ $310 million Series D and its $550 million Series E.
  • It led Toronto-based chatbot startup Ada’s $130 million Series C.
  • Co-led San Francisco-based Clarify Health Solutions’ $115 million Series C.

However, in 2022, the two biggest rounds Spark led or co-led were a $115 million Series B for San Francisco-based Afresh and a $40 million Series B for Serbia-based Tenderly.

In fact, Spark led or co-led only 15 rounds last year, but already has done four in 2023.

Only time will tell if Spark keeps up leading big rounds — nothing is hotter than all things AI at the moment — or if this month will prove an outlier and it goes into the rest of the year like a lamb.

Spark Capital did not return a request to comment.

Further reading:

Illustration: Dom Guzman


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