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North American Venture Investment Rose In 2020, Culminating With Big Exits And A Strong Q4 – Crunchbase News

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History will remember 2020 as a very bad year by many measures. However, venture funding will not be one of them.

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Funding for startups and growth-stage private companies in North America held up at historically high levels last year. Even amid a pandemic, widespread unemployment, and escalating small-business closures, investment was up year over year across all stages from early and beyond.

Table of contents

North America overall

Overall, venture investors put just over $150 billion to work across all stages in 2020, up around 7 percent from 2019 levels, per Crunchbase data. For perspective, here are the annual funding totals, color-coded by stage, for the past 10 years:

The fourth quarter ended on a robust note as well. Investors poured $38.7 billion into North American seed- through growth-stage deals in Q4, per Crunchbase data. Totals for Q4 of 2020 were up 16 percent year over year and down 12 percent quarter over quarter.

The narrative playing out in the private company sphere largely dovetailed the public market environment. COVID-19, political mayhem and financial distress on Main Street failed to resonate on Wall Street, with major indexes, and tech stocks in particular, reaching record valuations.

The upbeat climate on public exchanges helped spur a raft of venture-backed unicorns to carry out initial public offerings and direct listings, and follow the increasingly popular special purpose acquisition company path to market debuts. Those hitting public markets in Q4 were among the largest debuts of the year, led by Airbnb and DoorDash.

Below, we look at the tallies by stage, highlight top exits, and look at the most active investors for both the year and the just-ended quarter.

Late-stage funding

Late stage accounts for the largest share of venture dollars across any stage, so we’ll start there.

For all of 2020, venture investors put $94.5 billion into late-stage and technology growth1 deals. That’s a sizable jump from 2019, when $85.7 billion went into such deals.

While funding rose, round counts declined a bit. Crunchbase counted 1,167 late-stage and tech-growth rounds in 2020, down 10 percent from 2019, as average round sizes grew larger.  In the chart below, we lay out funding totals and round counts for the past five quarters.

The fourth quarter was the second-biggest of the year for investment totals, with $23.3 billion going to late-stage and technology-growth deals. That’s down 25 percent from Q3, which was by far the biggest quarter of 2020, but up about 18 percent from the year-ago quarter.

For both Q4 and 2020 as a whole, supergiant rounds of $100 million or more played a key role in pushing investment totals up. For the full year, there were 193 so-called supergiant rounds of $100 million and up at the late stage, per Crunchbase data, up from 156 in 2019.

The brisk pace of supergiant late-stage rounds continued in Q4, with five late-stage rounds of $340 million and up:

  • Nuro, a developer of autonomous delivery vehicles, raised a $500 million Series C;
  • Relativity Space, which focuses on 3D printed rockets, raised a $500 million Series D;
  • TuSimple, a self-driving truck company, raised a $350 million Series E; and
  • Scopely, a mobile gaming company raised a $340 million Series E.

For the full year, meanwhile, there were 26 late stage rounds of $300 million and up, with the largest—a $600 million Series E—going to payments processor Stripe.

Early-stage funding

Early-stage investment also rose in 2020, with Q4 ending the year on a high note.

For the full year, investors put $49.1 billion into early-stage rounds (Series A and B), up about 3 percent from the 2019 total. Round counts totaled just under 3,000, down around 11 percent from 2019.

The fourth quarter provided a strong close, with $13.6 billion in early-stage investment, the highest total of the past five quarters. Round counts, meanwhile, were up slightly quarter over quarter, but still down from year-ago levels. We lay the numbers out in more detail in the chart below.

In the fourth quarter in particular, we saw a proliferation of super-sized Series A and B rounds. These include:

  • Resilience, a startup looking to speed up the biopharmaceutical manufacturing process, raised $750 million in a November Series B round;
  • Uber Freight, a logistics spinout of Uber, raised $500 million in an October Series A round;
  • Heyday, a digital marketplace for consumer products brands, raised a $175 million Series A round in November; and
  • Function of Beauty, a provider of customizable beauty products, raised $150 million in a December Series B round.

Seed-stage funding

Seed-stage investment was down in 2020 compared to year-ago levels, and hit a low point in the fourth quarter, according to reported data from Crunchbase.

Overall, seed-stage companies raised $7.2 billion in all of 2020, down 10 percent from 2019. Reported round counts totaled just over 6,400, down 22 percent from 2019 levels.

For Q4, meanwhile, seed investment totaled $1.7 billion, tied for the lowest total in two years, while round counts saw steep year-over-year declines. Investment totals and round counts for the past five quarters are shown below.

Part of the Q4 and 2020 seed-stage declines may be attributed to reporting delays. Much of the seed funding data in the Crunchbase dataset is self-reported by companies. Because a sizable percentage of rounds get entered weeks or months after they close, reported funding totals historically rise over time.

That said, it does appear that seed and angel funding was down some, even accounting for the lag. It’s a trend likely attributable in part to the pandemic. After all, it was not an opportune year to launch a startup in a number of spaces, including travel, hospitality and live entertainment. Investors and founders in a range of sectors may also have taken a wait-and-see approach, preferring to launch and scale in a post-pandemic environment.

The absence of face-to-face networking opportunities probably also played a role. Investment for seed companies is more personality-driven than at other stages, since startups typically have no finished product or market traction.

Exits

Overall, 2020 was an exceptionally good year for venture-backed exits, and Q4 was a standout quarter on this front. Below we look at returns from public market debuts, followed by M&A.

IPOs, Direct Listings And SPACs

The tech sector was on fire in the public markets last year, and startups took notice. Many companies that had been talked-about candidates for public listing chose 2020 as the year to make it happen.

Markets were receptive. The year’s biggest tech market debuts included Airbnb, Palantir, DoorDash, and Snowflake, which now collectively maintain a market capitalization of over $300 billion.

Many of the year’s largest market debuts took place in Q4, as laid out in the following list.

In addition to the size and volume of public offerings, 2020 stands out for the variety of methods companies employed to make their market debuts.

While most of the largest offerings were traditional IPOs, we also saw heightened use of two other paths to the markets: direct listings and mergers with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

For 2020, the largest direct listing was Palantir, which went public in late September at an initial valuation of $22 billion and has since seen its market cap balloon to $49 billion. On the SPAC side, homebuying and selling platform Opendoor closed out the year with a December debut at an $18 billion valuation following completion of its merger with a blank-check acquirer.

M&A

Venture-backed companies also got acquired at a pretty good clip in 2020, with a number of multibillion-dollar deals, including several in the fourth quarter.

Standout M&A deals for 2020 include Illumina’s $8 billion purchase of cancer screening company Grail in September and Intuit’s $7.1 billion purchase of fintech unicorn Credit Karma, which was announced in February and completed in December.

As for Q4, we saw a dozen acquisitions2 valued at $1 billion or more, with the largest of the disclosed deals listed below.

Active Investors

As mature startups exited, younger companies lined up for fresh venture funding, and an array of prominent VC firms stepped up with capital.

Below we look at the most active venture and alternative investors in Q4 of 2020, looking at both new investments and follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies.

We don’t see any big surprises here, although it’s notable that the list does favor companies active in late-stage investment and multistage investment rather than pure early-stage investors.

The Big Picture

So, having crunched the numbers, with what sweeping description may we bid adieu to 2020?

Overall, it was a bullish year for venture funding and exits amidst a grim period in many other respects.

For 2021, startups are certainly hoping the receptive public markets, readily available capital, and strong valuations remain a thing. However, it’d also be nice to see a return of some of the much-missed aspects of startup life, including a lot fewer video meetings and a lot more face-to-face human contact.

Methodology

The data contained in this report comes directly from Crunchbase, and is based on reported data for North America namely Canada and the United States.

The most recent quarter will increase over time relative to previous quarters. For funding counts, we notice a strong data lag, especially at the seed and early stages, by  as much as 26 percent to 41 percent a year out.

Please note that all funding values are given in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. Crunchbase converts foreign currencies to U.S. dollars at the prevailing spot rate from the date funding rounds, acquisitions, IPOs and other financial events are reported. Even if those events were added to Crunchbase long after the event was announced, foreign currency transactions are converted at the historic spot price.

Glossary of funding terms

  • Seed and angel consists of seed, pre-seed and angel rounds. Crunchbase also includes venture rounds of unknown series, equity crowdfunding, and convertible notes at $3 million (USD or as-converted USD equivalent) or less.
  • Early-stage consists of Series A and Series B rounds, as well as other round types. Crunchbase includes venture rounds of unknown series, corporate venture, and other rounds above $3 million, and those less than or equal to $15 million.
  • Late-stage consists of Series C, Series D, Series E and later-lettered venture rounds following the “Series [Letter]” naming convention. Also included are venture rounds of unknown series,  corporate venture, and other rounds above $15 million.
  • Technology growth is a private equity round raised by a company that has previously raised a “venture” round. (So basically, any round from the previously defined stages.)

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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Teaming Up To Accelerate Justicetech Startups And Investment – Forbes

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Justicetech is at a pretty nascent stage. While there are some startups and investors in the area, much of the activity has happened in bits and pieces, without a comprehensive community or network, or even an agreed-upon understanding of what justicetech is. (One definition: technology startups focused on addressing problems faced by people who have been arrested, are incarcerated or are formerly incarcerated).

For that reason, impact accelerator Village Capital and impact investor American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact recently started teaming up to research and assess justicetech startups and investors and find ways to address their most pressing needs.

What they’ve found is that the most urgent need these startups face is raising capital.

“Our ultimate goal is to determine how we can mobilize capital toward justicetech solutions and startups,” says Marcia Chong Rosado, director, economic opportunity at Village Capital.

Assessing the Landscape

Their work started over the summer, when the two organizations got to talking about justicetech and what it means. Village Capital was looking closely at the sector, while, at the same time,  AmFam Institute had started to make VC investments in the area, but was having trouble identifying  the companies that best fit. “We were both struggling in our own worlds with the same issues,” says Nyra Jordan, AmFarm Institute’s social impact investment director. So they decided to work together.

The first phase included conducting a research and market assessment of the justicetech landscape. A report with those findings is slated to be released in March. Researchers identified six verticals within the sector, as well as different stages of the justice system, like incarceration and re-entry,  that startups focus on. The verticals include:

  • Financial health. Helping justice-involved people and their families achieve financial security and the ability to thrive.
  • Future of work. Expanding access to education and employment.
  • Government. Focusing on government systems—for example, making court systems more accessible and efficient.
  • Healthcare. Supporting the physical and mental health of justice-involved people.
  • Legal. Expanding access to civil and legal resources, as well as legal representation.
  • Communications. Helping people in the system stay connected with family and friends and also link up with other service providers.

Money, Not Mentors

Conversations with advisory board members revealed that by far the biggest challenge startups face is finding funding. That is, entrepreneurs don’t need mentors. They need money. And, because many are BIPOC, groups that typically have trouble finding investors, the problem is particularly acute.

That finding seemed to cry out for the need to convene existing investors, as well as new ones looking to learn more about the area, and build a justicetech investor network, thereby addressing the highly fragmented nature of the current ecosystem. To that end, in April, the team will seek out 10-12 mostly pre-seed and seed-stage investors to join the network.

Part of the work after that will involve creating a justicelens investing framework, starting by investigating such issues as appropriate business models and exit strategies, as well as how it all fits into the broader set of tools in impact measurement and management systems.

Vote of Confidence

The findings they’ve so far uncovered have, in fact, already changed how Jordan is approaching working with early-stage companies. Shortly after AmFam Institute was formed in 2018, the folks there began sponsoring local accelerator programs and boot camps aimed at what they called justicetech or criminal justice reform, though without a more-formulated definition. But the recent research caused them to rethink how to provide financial support. “People are saying we don’t need any more mentorship. We need capital,” says Jordan.

That’s meant, for example, re-assessing when to give grants vs. equity investments. Thus, while awarding, say, a $10,000 grant might be helpful in certain situations, in others an equity investment might be more useful. “If you invest with equity, you’re supporting that startup for the long-term and banking on that business,” she says. Such a message also might be likely to attract more money from other investors who would be influenced by that vote of confidence.

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Which Is a Better Investment Account: TFSA versus RRSP? – Yahoo Finance UK

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IMAGE OF A NOTEBOOK WITH TFSA WRITTEN ON IT

Are you considering investing and searching for the top stocks to buy? Before doing so, you should know that whatever money you earn from investing entails a tax. You get a T5 slip which gives you a summary of your investment income. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) encourages Canadians to save money by offering many registered savings accounts with tax benefits. Two popular accounts are Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs).

TFSA versus RRSP

The purpose of TFSA and RRSP is different, and the CRA designed them accordingly. If you use them optimally, you can make the most of them.

The TFSA, as the name suggests, encourages a savings culture. Hence, it levies a tax on your contribution but allows your investment to grow tax-free. Moreover, you can withdraw partial or complete amounts anytime without adding them to your taxable income.

As there is a tax benefit involved, there is a cap on how much you can invest. For 2021, the contribution limit is $6,000, which you can carry forward next year. If you were over 18 years of age in 2009, when the TFSA started, you can invest a lump sum of $75,500, the accumulated contribution of all these years.

The RRSP is the exact opposite of the TFSA. The RRSP promotes retirement savings, which require you to stay invested till you retire. For that, the CRA deducts the RRSP contribution from your taxable income but adds the withdrawals to your taxable income. And if you withdraw before age 71, it deducts an additional withholding tax of 10%-30%.

Similar to the TFSA, the RRSP also has a contribution limit, which is 18% of your income or a maximum amount the CRA decides. For 2020, the maximum amount is $27,230, which you can carry forward next year.

In both the accounts, over contribution brings a 1% tax. The TFSA and RRSP combined allow you to invest $33,000/year in a tax-efficient manner. You can also check out other registered accounts for more tax-efficient investing.

Maximize returns and tax savings using the TFSA and RRSP

Now that you understand the mechanics of the TFSA and the RRSP, you can maximize your returns and minimize your tax bill. You should look at three aspects when choosing the savings account:

  • Will the security you are investing in yield high returns?

  • What is your tax bill for the year?

  • How much can you save for the long term?

The TFSA investing strategy

Use the TFSA to invest in high-growth and high-dividend stocks, which can grow your money multiple folds in few years. This is because your investment income will be higher than your contribution, and the TFSA will exclude the investment earnings from your taxable income. TFSA is popular among households with after‑tax income under $80,000, according to the 2016 Census.

The iShares S&P/TSX Capped Information Technology Index ETF (TSX:XIT) is a good choice for the TFSA. The ETF has surged 267% in the last five years, converting $10,000 into $36,700. It gives you exposure to the top tech stocks trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. This 267% growth is when the sector was at a nascent stage. It has now entered the growth stage, and the cloud, 5G, and artificial intelligence revolution will drive the wave. The ETF has holdings in some top stocks like Shopify and BlackBerry, which even tops the Motley Fool Canada recommendations.

The RRSP investing strategy

While high growth stocks are good, they come with high risk, so balance your portfolio with some resilient stocks with stable returns using RRSP. Choose this account when the tax-saving trade-off is worth it.

If your taxable income is $105,000, around $8,000 of your income falls under the 26% tax bracket. But if you put this $8,000 in RRSP, you will save over $2,062 in the federal tax bill. Now that is a good trade-off. You can invest this amount in Canadian Utilities and earn $440 in annual dividend, bringing your total savings for the year to $2,500.

Optimize the benefits of the TFSA and the RRSP and plan your investments in a tax-efficient manner.

The post Which Is a Better Investment Account: TFSA versus RRSP? appeared first on The Motley Fool Canada.

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Fool contributor Puja Tayal has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tom Gardner owns shares of Shopify. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Shopify and Shopify. The Motley Fool recommends BlackBerry and BlackBerry.

The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool Canada’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Motley Fool Canada 2021

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Onex fourth-quarter profit rises helped by private equity and credit investment gains – The Globe and Mail

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Onex Corp. ONEX-T reported its fourth-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago, helped by gains in its private equity and credit investments.

The Toronto-based private equity manager, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it earned a net profit of US$597 million or $6.61 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31.

The result compared with net earnings of US$187 million or $1.86 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2019.

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Onex reported segment net earnings — which exclude certain items — of US$708 million or US$7.72 per diluted share for its fourth quarter, up from US$211 million or $2.04 per diluted share a year earlier.

Onex manages and invests money on behalf of its shareholders, institutional investors and high net worth clients.

It also owns wealth management firm Gluskin Sheff.

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