Global Startups Raised $621 Billion in 2021, Breaking Record

Startups enjoyed record venture capital funding last year, raising $621 billion globally and seeding several new tech hubs around the world, although Silicon Valley remains ground zero, according to research firm CB Insights. The U.S. accounted for roughly half of the funding raised globally, with stateside startups raising roughly $311 billion. Bootstrappers in Silicon Valley and New York retained the leading positions in terms of most money raised and number of deals completed, says CBI. Early-stage funding accounted for 63 percent of Philadelphia’s startup deals. Los Angeles and Dallas also grew early stage numbers, to 62 and 55 percent respectively.

Early-stage deal activity is a key indicator of a healthy startup scene. “The portion of early deals shrank slightly in both Silicon Valley and New York last year, landing at 57 percent of the total in both regions — their lowest points since at least 2015, when CB Insights began tracking the metric,” reports Bloomberg. “The percentage of early-stage deals in Austin, Texas slipped for the second consecutive year, also landing at 57 percent.”

Bilal Zuberi, partner at Lux Capital, which backs early- through growth-stage entities, tells Bloomberg that “founders are launching startups in more varied locations.” The trend toward remote work “has made companies’ hometowns less important,” Bloomberg writes, adding that “the ease of video calls has made the process of deciding whether to back a startup faster.”

Silicon Valley startups raised $105 billion in 2022, making it the world’s mecca for funding. Index Ventures partner Nina Achadjian told Bloomberg it’s “a center of gravity” due to its strong concentrations of tech talent, world-class research labs, top universities, “and the physical location of some of the world’s VCs.”

China is also generating record levels of investment in the tech sector, “even as it clamps down on consumer-technology firms like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and ride-hailing company DiDi Global,” writes The Wall Street Journal. However, in contrast to previous years, when the bulk of Chinese tech funding went to Internet startups and e-commerce, the majority of 2021 tech funding went to what WSJ calls “areas that hew more closely to Communist Party priorities, such as semiconductors, biotechnology and information technology.”

Venture capital funding of $129 billion went to more than 5,300 Chinese startups in 2021, more than that market’s record high of around $115 billion in 2018, according to Preqin, a firm that has since 2000 tracked China venture-capital deals.