A new study from Pitchbook crunches 10 years of numbers to paint a clear picture of how access to venture capital is different across the country. This info is far from academic. For entrepreneurial Millennials, today America's largest working generation, thinking about where to settle down often also includes thinking about where to launch a startup, someday. For city leaders, organic tech jobs are dependent on the startup economy. For founders intent on surviving the venture capital downturn, this report also offers great perspective on regional nuances in startup finance.
"We chose twelve MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) for our report to give exposure to the lesser-known, up-and-coming regions where investor activity is picking up," says senior analyst and report author Garrett James Black of Pitchbook. (Full disclosure: I run a venture capital firm in Atlanta.)
For those cities bringing up the rear, he encourages that improvement in ranking, "comes down to fostering a supportive ecosystem of local investment firms" and keeping an eye on other factors like cost of living.
The top cities for raising money
1. San Francisco came in at number 1, with$117 billion in funds raised since 2006 and 9710 deals in the same time period.
2. San Jose, at $35.5 billion in venture funds raised since 2006.
Together, these two California cities are the juggernaut of startup finance. The last full year of data, 2015, showed 664 active venture funds in San Francisco alone. To compare it to the city last on the list, Atlanta, there were 28 active local funds last year. Looking at the difference in venture firm population, it puts it in perspective that Atlanta raised $1.15 billion since 2006, and San Francisco one hundred times more, $117 billion.
But despite the sheer scale differences between the first and last city in this venture ecosystem report, it's not all roses in Silicon Valley. Black points out, "the Bay Area still holds the title in terms of sheer concentration of activity, but the interesting thing to note is the rate of growth elsewhere. Seattle, for example, saw overall number of venture rounds double between 2010 and 2015, while Philly saw its first-time financings double in the same timeframe." In addition, the research reveals that top regions like San Jose and San Francisco are seeing a slowdown in terms of first financings. Now jumping to the East Coast:
3. New York, $43.6 billion in venture funds raised since 2006
4. Boston, $41.2 billion in venture funds raised since 2006.
Yet the East Coast exits are taking their time. "New York, for example, has had $33.9 billion invested into companies headquartered in its MSA since 2010, while the amount exited during the same time period has only amounted to $17.6 billion, almost half the value," says Black.
Good cities for raising money
5. Los Angeles, $2.6 billion raised since 2006. While the MSA is significantly less active in raising capital, Pitchbook placed them high on the list in part due to their $11.2 billion in exits since 2010.
6. Seattle, $7.6 billion raised since 2006
On the list at #7 appears our first non-coastal city:
7. Chicago, $3.4 billion raised since 2006
8. Washington, DC, $4.8 billion raised since 2006
Emerging cities for raising money
9. San Diego, $1.5 billion of funds raised that is attracting $9.4 billion of funds invested since 2006
10. Austin, another non-coastal city, at $1.9 billion in funds raised spread across 1375 first financings in this period--one of the best dollar to dealflow ratios on the list.
11. Philadelphia, with $3 billion in local funds raised serving 1003 local deals in the time period.
12. Atlanta, with $1.15 billion in funds raised since 2006 and 867 local deals in that time period.
Local venture firms sway startups to stay
Black noted trends that suggest the venture capital frontier is no longer the West Coast, even as the area remains the ecosystem's finance hub. "Areas like Austin and Philly have been receiving more attention from outside investors over the last few years, which could indicate that investors are looking outside of the traditional startup hubs for quality investments," he says.
For cities that would like to attract more startups, Pitchbook's report indicates it's a balancing act for founders, between their actual access to local venture capital and their costs of living. "Generally speaking, the ratios of outside and inside investors was surprising. The vast majority of funding in each region came from outside investors," says Black.
All cities in the report, from San Francisco to Atlanta, attract more venture capital from outside their city than from inside. Thus, attracting outside capital is not a core point in creating a strong venture ecosystem--it's more of a symptom. The number of local venture firms plays catalyst in creating the startup's opportunity to stay local. "If founders can access sufficient capital within their home towns that have equivalently friendly business climates among other factors," Black points out, "then there is a compelling case to stay local." See the full report.