NYC vs SF startup scene

I sent out this tweet survey and got a lot of responses , so this blog post is to provide the actual answer and the underlying data.

The tldr is that NY Metro tech scene is 50% the size of the Bay Area tech scene, I’m sure you might be surprised or skeptical, just hear me out.  18% of the twitter survey respondents got it right.

The correct answer to the survey really depends on what data you are analyzing and comparing, so really all the twitter survey responses COULD be accurate , it is all about how you slice & dice it.

For the data gathering, I used two publicly available (you need subscriptions) data sources , PitchBook and CB Insights, which are my favorite tools for startup/VC information.

Now this isn’t about NYC vs SF but a bit broader NY Metro vs Bay Area, is captures the full startup scene as comparing distinct cities isn’t comprehensive. Example , there are startups in Palo Alto, Oakland and Jersey City, these are examples of other cities need to be included in a comparison.

I looked at startups and VC firms to measure the tech community.   Both the startups and VC firms had to be HQ’d in the respective regions that I’m comparing.  I wanted to look at data that was more a leading indicator (early stage companies) as opposed to a lagging indicator (late stage / public companies).   I believe that looking at early stage companies will give us a better sense of where these respective markets are headed and the potential they hold.

For the startup side, I reviewed the number of deals, the number of rounds and the aggregate amount of the funding. The time period was Jan 1st 2017 to May 9th 2019. The rounds of financing for the comparison was Seed, Series A and Series B.  In terms of sectors, it was comprehensive, so life science, energy , consumer , enterprise , etc was included.

For the VC firms , I looked at funds that were raised between Jan 1st 2016 and May 9 2019. As you may have noticed , I used a slightly longer time period (one additional year) for VC funds, as some VC firms only raise capital once every three years, so wanted to capture all the relevant funds. The funds were both early and growth stage funds, similar to companies , included all funds regardless of sector focus (or geography focus). I also looked at the number of firms, which is distinct from the number of funds, although they are obviously related.

Here is the first piece of the data, which you can see includes some bonus data with expanded time horizons on the funds side.

Here is a visual on the number of VC firms, per PitchBook:

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Here is the data on the company side, are you can see there is discrepancy between CB Insights and Pitchbook on the aggregate amount of funding but in terms of number of companies, they are similar.

Here is a visual of number of VC funded companies via PitchBook.

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So to summarize, I believe the NYC Metro scene is about half the size of the Bay Area startup scene (18% of the respondents to the twitter survey got that question right).  I have never thought that the two metro regions would be equal in size but have mentioned before that I thought NY could be half the size, I’m really surprised it happened this quickly though.

If you have any comments or thoughts, please post or hit me up on twitter @shaig.  Thanks for reading this far……

Robo Advisors

As you may of heard, Goldman Sachs purchased United Capital, a wealth advisory firm, for $750M cash on May 16, 2019.  Goldman Sachs provided a visual of how this acquisition fits into their existing business, see below.

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In the press release , it was mentioned that United Capital had $25B in Assets Under Managements (AUM), which got me thinking on how the digital advisory shops are doing in comparison, such as Wealthfront, Personal Capital and Betterment.  It also led me to think if this acquisition is a valuation benchmark for these companies.

I did a query on CB Insights to compare all four.

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In order to really compare all four, you have to look at AUM and number of employees, to measure efficiency.

Wealthfront Personal Capital Betterment United Capital
Headquarters Redwood City Redwood City New York Newport Beach
California California New York California
Website wealthfront.com personalcapital.com betterment.com unitedcp.com
Status Alive / Active Alive / Active Alive / Active Acquired by GS
First Funding 2008 2010 2010 2009
VC Backed Yes Yes Yes Yes
# of Investors 62 11 14 5
Days Since Last Funding 501 105 668 615
Total Funding $204.5M $312.02M $275M $38M
Valuation $500M $950M $800M $750M
# of employees 194 843 271 615
2 year employee growth rate 24% 18% 18% 18%
AUM $11.4B $9B $16.4B $25B
Digital / Traditional Digital Digital Digital Traditional/Digital

A few things stood out to me.

United Capital raised the least amount of VC dollars but has the greatest AUM.  I do recognize the United Capital is not necessarily in the robo advisor category, but I’m sure they would argue they have real technology, although they aren’t really a self serve platform, perhaps they are more of hybrid.

All four are growing headcount at an almost exact rate, 18% to 24%, that is really surprising how uniform that is, there has to be some explanation to this, don’t have the answer for you though.

In terms of the three actual digital / robo advisors, Betterment has the great amount of AUM and has not raised additional in the longest amount of time (668 days), I wonder if they are cash flow neutral / profitable at this point.

Personal Capital has the largest number of employees and substantially more than Betterment and Wealthfront.  Having the greatest number of employees isn’t a category you want to be leading when you have a digital offering.

I wonder what the exit opportunities for the remaining private companies, who buys them, do they IPO and at what valuations?

sources of data:

Visual comparing the four:  CB Insights (paid service)

Valuation:  Pitchbook (paid service)

AUM:  website, news outlets, press releases

Employees:  LinkedIn

2 years Employees Growth Rate:  LinkedIn Insights (a paid service)

 

 

Startup Feeders

Which companies have the generated the greatest number of Founders as of today? 

If you want the tldr, scroll to the bottom, but would advise you read the post as it explains how the data was gathered and methodology around that.

The above question came to mind during the current debate as to why Amazon left NYC for their HQ2 and what the impact will be (that topic requires a whole separate blog post).  Many folks in the NYC tech community wanted Amazon to open an office here, partially as there would be a side benefit in that startups could be created by ex-Amazon employees (Amazon planned to hire 25K+ people in NYC, they have 8K+ currently based in NYC).   This perspective led to me to dig into some data to see if Amazon does generate startup Founders and if so, how many and what scale?

All the data came via Linkedin, through their advanced query.  In the query, I created a few filers:

Title: Co-Founder or Founder.  I wanted to know which individuals indicate that they are CURRENTLY Founders.  This doesn’t include people who were Founders at some point and are now doing something different.  It also doesn’t specifically filter for if they are a Founder of a tech startup or not.  While most of the people who are captured are likely tech Founders, some might be Founders of VC firms, consulting firms, non tech companies, etc.  I specifically didn’t want to search for the title “CEO”, as some CEOs are not the Founders of the companies they are currently leading.

Relationship: 1st Degree Connections and 2nd Degree Connections. Majority of my LinkedIn connections are VCs, Founders and tech operators.  I only captured people in my more immediate network.  If you are a startup Founder, the odds that my 1st and 2nd Degree connections having not connected with a tech Founder via LinkedIn is pretty low.

Geography:  San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Seattle Area and Greater New York City Area.  I only wanted to look at three geographies.  The only reason I included Seattle, is that I wanted to understand what impact Amazon has had in terms of generating Founders in Seattle, as a way to benchmark Amazon vs other large tech companies that are HQ’d in SF Area and NYC Area.

Company:  I only looked at PAST companies.  Obviously, it is hard to be a Founder of startup and work at another company.  I looked mainly at some of the large tech companies out there, I feel like it is pretty inclusive of most of the companies that have generated startup Founders.  I didn’t query the most recent past company (not sure if that is possible), meaning this data captured people who most recently worked at Facebook or worked at Facebook several jobs ago.

A few disclaimers:

  1.  I realize that the data doesn’t look at “successful” startups.  I understand why that is interesting but it is less relevant for what I wanted to accomplish.  I would add the word successful can be interpreted in various ways.  In addition, if you did look at successful Founders, it is a lagging indicator of which companies used to generate successful Founders and doesn’t necessarily mean they will create successful Founders going forward.  That being said, if you decide to pull this data, it would be an interesting blog post, so encourage you to do so.
  2. These large companies didn’t necessarily “generate” these Founders.  “Generate” was a word that best fit what I’m trying to accomplish, but please don’t get hung up on it.  These individuals simply worked for these companies in the past.  That being said, there could be some credit given to these companies for helping create Founders.
  3. To reiterate, some of these Founders are not necessarily working on tech related startups.

A few key observations (I have a bunch but wanted to limit it for the sake of brevity):

  1. regarding Amazon.  If you look at the Seattle column data, they grossly underperform Microsoft in terms of startups Founders, 812 vs 223.  I assumed the two would be pretty close.  On a more positive note, Amazon faired decently in NYC, which was surprising.  Between Seattle, SF and NYC, they only had 475 Founders in total, that seems really low relative to how large that company is and how long they have been around.
  2. Goldman Sachs!!!  Wow, I didn’t expect them to have that many Founders.  There were #1 in NYC and did well in SF too.
  3. IBM did surprisingly well in SF , NYC and Seattle.  Didn’t see that coming but they do have over 500K employees, so the odds they generate startup Founders is high.
  4. Seattle is really a two company town when it comes to Founder creation.  Microsoft and Amazon.  I didn’t expect anything different.  Over time there will likely be more balance as there are some interesting late stage startups that will generate Founders in the next decade.
  5.  SF has a strong concentration with 10 companies that really outperform in terms of startup generation.  In comparison, NYC seems to have a longer tail of companies that generate Founders, I think that is more healthy for a tech ecosystem.  This partially supports my argument that Amazon leaving NYC isn’t going to make a big impact in terms of future startup formation.
  6. Facebook??  I really expected a much higher number from them, that was quite the shock.  I can foresee people making the argument that Facebook Founders are better than other tech company Founders, maybe, don’t have that data but from an absolute number, that is really low.

 

2019 – a ton of $ floating round

2018 has been an ugly year for many public companies.

2018 has been a great year for many private companies and expect 2019 to be as good.

If you are a Founder/CEO of a VC backed startup, you shouldn’t feel down about access to capital, there is a ton of cash floating around.

In 2018, $75 BILLION has been raised by US based VC firms.  The $75B is an aggregate of 286 new VC funds raised in 2018.  The $75B doesn’t include non-US based firms who are actively investing here or corporate investors or family offices or Softbank.  Point being is there a lot of capital available if you are staying private and need more money.

The put the $75B into context, if you look at the VC fundraising data during the top of the last market in 2007, the total was almost exactly half, with $37B in capital raised.  So assuming we are going into a downturn, there 2x more capital this time vs 2008.

Here is a list of the 50 largest VC funds that were raised in 2018 , go get that money!

Fund Size ($M) Fund Name
8,000.00 Sequoia Capital Global Growth Fund III
6,300.00 Insight Venture Partners X
3,750.00 Tiger Global Private Investment Partners XI
2,500.00 Petershill Private Equity
1,913.31 Lime Rock Partners IV AF
1,850.00 Bessemer Venture Partners X
1,800.00 Sequoia Capital China Growth Fund V
1,500.00 Norwest Venture Partners XIV
1,375.00 General Catalyst Group IX
1,360.00 GGV Capital VII
1,350.00 NewView Capital Fund I
1,300.00 Providence Strategic Growth III
1,200.00 JMI Equity Fund IX
1,050.00 Lightspeed Venture Partners Select III
1,000.00 Thrive Capital Partners VI
1,000.00 Index Ventures Growth V
800.00 Battery Ventures XII
750.00 Lightspeed Venture Partners XII
700.00 Main Post Growth Capital II
670.00 Silversmith Capital Partners II
650.00 Index Ventures IX
650.00 Accel-KKR Growth Capital Partners III
650.00 Bain Capital Venture Fund 2019
640.00 8VC Fund II
638.54 Meritech Capital Partners VI
600.00 Lime Rock Partners VIII
600.00 Charles River Partnership XVII
550.00 Sequoia Capital China Venture Fund VII
535.00 Level Equity Growth Partners IV
520.00 Lead Edge Capital IV
500.00 Bertram Growth Capital III
460.00 GGV Discovery Fund II
450.00 Battery Ventures XII Side Fund
450.00 Ampersand 2018
450.00 Matrix Partners XI
435.00 Emergence Capital Partners V
420.00 Ribbit Capital V
400.00 Investcorp Technology Partners IV
400.00 Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners III
400.00 Redpoint Ventures VII
400.00 Scale Venture Partners VI
392.00 Sprout Endurance Partners
362.24 Cordillera Investment Fund II
360.00 B Capital Fund
360.00 Forerunner Partners IV
350.00 Capricorn Healthcare & Special Opportunities II
350.00 G2VP I
350.00 Trinity Hunt Partners V
350.00 True Ventures VI
350.00 Alliance Consumer Growth Fund IV

 

$50M+ deals in NYC

There has been a flurry of $50M+ rounds announced for NYC HQ’d startups, so was interested in taking a look at data and comparing 2018 vs prior years.  see below.

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As you can see, 2018 has been an incredible year in terms of # of deals and dollars.  In 2012 there were zero deals that were $50M+ in size, which is eye opening when you look at the 2018 data.

It is really amazing to see the growth of the startup community in NYC, so many investors are excited about what is happening.  On the investor front, I was wondering which firms have been the most active in these $50M+ round sizes.  see below.

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The middle column is the most relevant as it captures which firms have been the most active in the past two years.  Over half of these investors have offices in NYC, so the days of having to fly to Sand Hill to raise large rounds could be coming to end potentially.

Does being Founder lead to being the best VC?

I don’t believe that being a Founder of tech startup gives you a better chance of being the best VC.  I have never seen any data that confirms this, if you have it, please share that in the comments section.  On the contrary, if you look at some of the best VCs of all time, they were NOT Founders of tech startups.  The great thing about this industry is that regardless of your background, you can be a great VC Identifying who is going to be the best VC, when a VC is just starting, is extremely difficult, which is why the job of being a LP is so challenging.

Here is the tweet thread that got me thinking about this topic:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do recognize that specific words are critically important for this debate.  Entrepreneur vs Founder is a material difference.  The original premise and original tweet was about “Founder” not Entrepreneur .  That being said, most of folks on the list provided below were neither an entrepreneur or founder, a few did work for tech startups though but that is different debate.

Here is a list of folks who meet all of the following parameters:

  1. They were not tech Founders before they started leading venture rounds
  2. They started leading venture rounds (Seed/A/B) post 2005
  3. They have substantial realized gains (not looking at TVPI), meaning they distributed meaningful money to their LPs (DPI)

If you know VCs that meet ALL of these parameters, please let me know in the comment section and will add them.  In no particular order:

Rebecca Lynn – Canvas

http://www.canvas.vc/team-member/rebecca-lynn/

 

Ian Sigalow – Greycroft

https://www.greycroft.com/people/ian-sigalow/

 

Kirsten Green – Forerunner

https://forerunnerventures.com/team/kirsten-green/

 

Chetan Puttagunta – Benchmark

https://www.linkedin.com/in/chetanputtagunta/

 

Shana Fisher – Third Kind

https://www.crunchbase.com/person/shana-fisher#section-overview

 

Mamoon Hamid – Kleiner Perkins

https://www.kleinerperkins.com/people/mamoon-hamid

 

Tony Florence – NEA

https://www.linkedin.com/in/toflorence/

 

Mike Volpi – Index

https://www.indexventures.com/team/mike-volpi

 

Roger Ehrenberg – IA Ventures

https://www.crunchbase.com/person/roger-ehrenberg

 

Matt Cohler – Benchmark

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattcohler/

 

Aydn Senkut – Felicis Ventures

https://www.felicis.com/team/aydin/

 

Hans Tung – GGV Capital

https://www.ggvc.com/team/hans-tung

 

Active Early Stage Investors in NY based companies (Jan ’17 to Aug ’18)

In preparation for an event that we run on a regular basis, called Fundraising Workshop, wanted to provide an update on some of the most active early stage VCs (Venture Capital) who are investing in NY based startups.

A few items before providing you the information.

  • The data was pulled via CB Insights
  • The investors do not need to be based in NY but have to be investing in NY based companies
  • The date range was Jan 1 2017 to August 13 2018
  • It only includes venture capital firms and excludes accelerators, angels, corporates, etc.
  • CB Insights doesn’t provide data on who is leading the rounds, so the assumption with these firms listed, is that they participated in the round and not necessarily lead, a critical distinction when fundraising.  If you are fundraising, you need to do more homework to figure out is actually leading rounds.

The data is below.

Most active VCs who participate in sub $2M rounds, see below.  Many of the seed and pre-seed rounds are sub $2M in size, so if you are looking for firms who are active at this size, this is a good target.  Now, the data around pre-seed and seed is challenging since many of these rounds are not announced , which makes it is difficult for CB Insights to capture.  So this list is not comprehensive but I think it provides a lot of signal on the right firms to reach out to.

sub $2M rounds

Most active Seed VCs, see below.  In this query and unlike above, I didn’t put parameters on the size of the seed round.

Seed

Most active Series A VCs, see below.  Again, no parameters on the size of the round.  As I mentioned in beginning of the post, I am unable to query who is “leading” these particular round.  So some of these firms could be leading and other could be participating in them.

Series A