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Record 382 Mega-Rounds Drive Highest Yearly Global Funding Level Since 2000, According to the PwC/CB Insights MoneyTree Report


North America’s Record 21 Unicorn Births Surpassed Asia for Most New Unicorns for Second Straight Quarter

NEW YORK, January 7, 2019
– This year saw the highest annual funding level since 2000, as venture capital-backed companies based in the United States raised $99.5B across 5,536 transactions, the lowest level of deal activity since 2013, according to the MoneyTree™ Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) and CB Insights.

Amid falling deal activity, US companies still raised a record-number of mega-rounds in 2018, with 184 $100M+ funding rounds. There was also a record number of new unicorns this year as 53 US VC-backed companies saw their valuation rise to over $1B.

Global VC funding also came close to the 2000 funding record as it jumped 21% compared to 2017. $207B of VC funding was raised globally across 14,247 transactions, a 10% increase in deal activity.

"2018 was a phenomenal year for US venture capital, with $99.5B invested --- a record-breaking 55 unicorn births, 184 mega-rounds, and funding levels at their highest since 2000 ($119.6B). There certainly continues to be a healthy availability of funds and appetite for investment, while the trend of fewer, bigger deals persists."

Tom Ciccolella, US Venture Capital Leader at PwC

Regionally, in the United States, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, New York, New England and Los Angeles all saw increases in funding levels this year. In San Francisco, funding jumped 55%, rising to $28B. New England funding activity increased for the second straight year, to $11B in 2018. Silicon Valley and New York saw an uptick funding in 2018, increasing to $18B and $13B, respectively. Funding for Los Angeles-area companies were also up slightly at $6B.

“While this year saw the lowest level of deals since 2013, median deal sizes are up and $100M+ mega-deals are becoming standard," said Anand Sanwal, CEO and co-founder of CB Insights. "US companies raised a record 184 mega-rounds, a 53% increase compared to last year's record. While mid- and late-stage startups are winners in the current environment, the early stage is getting pinched with seed activity.  There doesn't appear to be a near-term catalyst to get seed activity growing again."

Key Q3 2018 highlights:

  • US deals and funding slipped in Q4, dropping from a record funding level of $28B across 1,325 deals in Q3’18 to $25B across 1,211 deals in Q4’18. While seed-stage activity rose slightly to 23% of all deals, it was still well below levels from a year prior. Expansion-stage deal activity was up slightly, at 24% of all deals, compared to 20% a year prior. Median deal sizes were up across the board, with later-stage median deal size rising to $37.5M in Q4, up from $32.4M in Q3.
  • After a record number of $100M+ mega-rounds in Q3, the US mega-round count fell in Q4. However, it was still above historical levels, with 49 $100M+ rounds contributing to high quarterly funding amid declining deal activity.
  • While the top four of the biggest US deals in Q4 were raised by later-stage companies, an expansion-stage company based in Massachusetts (Relay Therapeutics) raised $400M.
  • A record number of US companies reached $1B valuations this quarter. 21 private companies reached unicorn status, up from 17 unicorn births in Q3, the previous quarterly record. The US unicorn population count is now at 140 unicorns as of EOY 2018.
  • As of Q4’18, US unicorns accounted for $526.1B, the highest aggregate valuation on record. In comparison, unicorns accounted for $63.1B in 2013.
  • After hitting a funding peak at $2.7B in the prior quarter, artificial intelligence funding fell to $2.4B in Q4. However, seed-stage deal activity in the AI space rose in Q4’18 to 28%, compared to 24% in Q3’18. Expansion-stage deal activity jumped to 32%, from 23%. Top AI US deals include Zymergen’s $400M expansion-stage round and Automation Anywhere’s $300M early-stage deal.
  • Compared to Q3, US digital health companies saw a decline in funding and deal activity at $1.9B across 83 deals. But three of the largest US IPOs in Q4 were by healthcare companies – Moderna Therapeutics at $7.5B, Allogene Therapeutics at $2B and Guardant Health at $1.6B.
  • Globally, $51.7B was invested across 3,220 deals, down from $54.1B across 3,675 deals in Q3. Asia funding fell for the second straight quarter, to $19.8B. Asia deal activity also fell to 1,127 transactions, from 1,446 transactions.
  • North America maintained its lead with the most quarterly $100M+ rounds this quarter at 51 mega-rounds. Asia saw 44 mega-rounds while Europe saw 6 mega-rounds. Mega-rounds were down in North America and Asia, and flat in Europe.
  • North America saw a record 21 unicorn births, surpassing Asia for most new unicorns for the second straight quarter. Asia saw 8 unicorn births and Europe saw 3 unicorn births this quarter.

MoneyTree Report results are available online at

CB Insights research can be found online here.


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©2018 PwC. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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