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VC Investment Reaches Highs Not Seen Since Dot-Com Bubble

As companies take longer to go public, late-stage rounds get big. No, make that huge.

If you somehow have any doubt that the venture capital business is booming, the most recent quarterly report from CB Insights should put them to rest.

Unfortunately, that same venture capital data is also making it harder to argue that we're not in some sort of bubble. The real argument is going to be over whether the bubble is more likely to deflate gently or pop suddenly.

The first quarter of 2014 saw the most venture capital money invested since the second quarter of 2001, with $9.9 billion going into 880 deals. That dollar figure is up 44 percent compared to the same quarter last year. In March alone, VC investors poured $4.4 billion into young companies, which is easily more than any other quarter in the past two years.

Some $5.7 billion of the $9.9 billion total went to California-based companies, and $4.8 billion went to Silicon Valley alone.

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Later stage deals are accounting for more and more of venture dollars, with Series D and E rounds eating up 47 percent of all venture money. Eleven companies--a record--raised their first funding round at a valuation of a billion dollars or more.

Those investments may seem a bit more reasonable given the recent generosity of public investors. Thirty-five U.S. based, venture-backed companies went public in the first quarter, the most since the third quarter of 2000. Healthcare IPOs continue to boom, with 22 companies in the sector going public compared to only four in the same quarter a year ago.

There were also 174 venture-backed mergers or acquisitions in the quarter. That’s a 69 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago.

Internet deals are continuing to hog cash, with 49 percent of all VC funding going to Web companies. Just one company--Cloudera--was responsible for $900 million of that. In New York, Internet deals attracted 63 percent of all venture money invested. The amount of money invested in mobile and telecom companies was up 30 percent year-over-year, but down compared to the most recent quarter.

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Apr 10, 2014

KIMBERLY WEISUL | Staff Writer | Editor-at-Large

Kimberly Weisul is editor-at-large at Inc. and co-founder of One Thing New, the digital media startup that is rebooting women's content. She was previously a senior editor at BusinessWeek.

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