Is venture funding already back?
Despite continuing talk about a possible recession, slumping tech stocks and a slowdown in the world of startup investing, the business of funding was positively humming last week. After slowing way down last spring, venture outfits disclosed a stunning $8 billion in new capital commitments in the span of just five days.
Consider the following: NEA revealed that it closed its two newest funds adding up to $6.2 billion; Cowboy Ventures announced two funds totaling $260 million; and FJ Labs also disclosed two funds totaling $260 million. Then there’s Sapphire Sport (it closed a second fund of $181 million), Volition Capital (it announced $675 million for its fifth fund), Kearny Jackson ($14 million) and Dimension ($350 million). Even non-U.S. outfits got into the act, including Highland Europe, which announced a new EUR1 billion fund, and a Japanese chemical giant that revealed a $100 million fund.
So what’s going on exactly? Are we already through this downturn? While impossible to know, the flurry of activity likely owes itself instead to a few unsurprising things.
For starters, a lot of “new” funds were actually closed last year but not announced for one reason or another. Defy.vc, for example, an early-stage venture outfit based in Woodside, California, said it is now investing out of a $300 million third fund (compared with a $151 million debut fund and a $262 million sophomore fund that it closed in 2019).
Defy actually closed the fund in the middle of last year but didn’t say anything until now because it was actively investing its previous fund until a few months ago, co-founder Neil Sequeira said. At the time, he said, the moment didn’t seem right.
“It was an interesting time in the NASDAQ and [regarding] world geopolitical issues,” he said, referring to the confluence of events that made 2022 a year that many would sooner forget, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and disrupted supply chains to surging inflation around the world.