Venture Capital Has Best Quarter in 10 Years

VC firms raised $12 billion during the first quarter, suggesting investors are confident the IPO market will rebound.
Katie Kuehner-HebertApril 11, 2016


Due to an error by Thomson Reuters, some of the figures originally reported in this story on Monday were incorrect.

Venture capitalists posted their strongest quarter in 10 years to start 2016, suggesting investors are betting that the downturn in initial public offerings is coming to an end.

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U.S. venture capital firms raised $12 billion for 57 funds during the first quarter of 2016, a 59% increase by dollar commitments from the first quarter of 2015 and a 17% decrease in number of funds raised, according to a report by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.

It was the strongest quarter for dollars raised by U.S. venture capital firms since the second quarter of 2006 when 79 funds raised $14.3 billion.

“As witnessed over the last year, the fundraising environment for venture capital continues to improve,” NVCA’s chief executive Bobby Franklin said in a news release.

“While it’s unlikely for this strong pace to continue, we do expect this to be a solid fundraising year when all is said and done,” he added.

The surge in venture capital fundraising comes despite the continuing IPO drought. Amid global stock market volatility, there were no IPOs in January and just five in February, making 2016 the slowest year for IPOs since 2009.

According to TechCrunch, one likely explanation is the public market has done very well in recent years, fattening the bank accounts of institutions like universities and pension funds that invest in venture firms.

“Some institutions currently have so much capital to invest that in order for them to see a meaningful return on an investment, they have to write out larger checks, which is why you’re seeing some firms securing such enormous amounts of funding right now,” TechCrunch said.

In addition, interest rates continue to be low, and more foreign investors are looking to park their capital in the U.S., including those from China.

TechCrunch also cited the countercyclical nature of venture investing. “No doubt many investors think they’re being smart by plowing money into the startup industry now, presuming a wave of IPOs will take place because of pent-up demand,” it said.

The largest new fund reporting commitment during the first quarter of 2016 was from Los Angeles-based 1955 Capital, which raised $200 million for its inaugural fund.