Last year, crypto didn’t see as many big-bucks, late-stage VC deals as it did in 2018, a new report from CB Insights shows.
While 2019 only saw 15 fewer deals than 2018 for a total of 807 deals, the deal volume dropped by 34 percent, from around $4.2 billion to nearly $2.8 billion. This is because of the absence of a few large late-stage deals in 2018: Bitmain’s $400 million in equity financing, Coinbase’s $300 million Series E and Hyperchain’s $234 million Series B, according to the report, published Thursday.
In 2019, the industry’s largest raises were from Ripple’s $200 million and Figure’s $103 million Series C funding rounds. Still, the year saw 120 percent more volume than 2017’s $1.2 billion.
“I don’t think funding [volume] drops is indicative of the health of the industry. … A lot of younger companies are raising rounds,” said Alex Kern, fintech analyst at CB Insights. “Larger, more mature businesses didn’t come back for more capital.”
Funding fell from 2018 to 2019 across venture capital companies, corporate VC arms, angel investors, hedge funds and other investors. Corporate VCs, however, are 20 percent of the funding pie, coming up 9 percentage points since 2015. Angel investors had the second-largest drop-off, with a deal decline of 13 percent year-over-year. (“Other” was the largest category decline.) Institutions are becoming more comfortable putting their capital into the space, while angel investors “falling off” is a sign of the industry maturing, Kern added.
Over the past four years, VC deals have also been shifting from the U.S. to China. From 2015 to 2019, VC deals in the space dropped by 20 percentage points in the U.S. and rose by 20 percentage points in China.
“Part of it is regulatory, Binance is tremendously popular, and mining compares are in China with access to cheap electricity,” Kern said.
Funding to cryptocurrency companies is still multiples of funding going towards enterprise blockchain. And though mentions of “blockchain” by corporates dropped by more than half year-over-year, enterprise blockchain funding saw an increase of 61 percent from 2018 to $434 million, largely because of Ripple’s Series C. Funding for cryptocurrency firms was around $2.35 billion in 2019.
The report added that many of the corporate consortia for enterprise blockchain – such as Hyperledger and R3 – are “still in early stages.”
“We’re still seeing [corporates] launching proofs-of-concept and early trials,” Kern said. “It’s hard to say if they’re moving on pace or not because it's been hard to get good data. … If they put out not only expectations of cost savings, but also what kinds of cost savings they’re seeing as a result of deploying the tech at a larger scale, that would help.”
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