Was tech’s ‘bull run’ simply a temporary surge?

Big, costly seed deals were the exception in 2023’s lackluster venture capital market

Hopes that it would become easier for startups to raise capital in 2023 were left unmet as the year ended.

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New data from business database PitchBook paints a modestly dim picture of venture capital investment activity in the fourth quarter of 2023. Per PitchBook’s preliminary count, startups in the U.S. raised 2,879 rounds worth about $37.5 billion in the fourth quarter — the lowest quarterly deal value since Q3 2019 and the lowest deal count since Q4 2017.

Across stages, venture capital investment activity in the United States is flagging, and this extends past aggregate figures — for example, we saw less total capital invested in U.S. startups last year than in 2020.

However, there is an interesting wrinkle in the data: We saw a decline in the number of seed deals, in keeping with the trend in the rest of the market, but it seems the youngest startups are generally faring better than everyone else. Observe:

  • There was a decline in the median deal value between 2022 and 2023 for all startup fundraises at Series A onward, but 2023’s median deal value at the seed stage matched the $3 million record set in 2022. (The average value of U.S. seed deals rose to $1.3 million last year, which we last saw happen in 2006.)

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