State VC investment falls, nationally levels rise
Washington’s venture-capital investments sagged while national investment levels rose in the third quarter.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Bearing a resemblance to the dismal venture-investment numbers in the first quarter of this year, the past three months have brought more of the same for Washington state with $110.2 million invested in startups in the third quarter, a 17 percent drop from $132.6 million during the same period last year, according to a MoneyTree report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.
But unlike the first quarter’s results — where both state and national numbers dipped considerably — Washington’s venture-capital investments sagged while national investment levels rose in the third quarter.
Using data from Thomas Reuters, the MoneyTree report said $7.78 billion was invested in 1,005 deals during the quarter, compared with $6.63 billion in 937 deals the year before.
Two quarterly venture reports released this week — the first by Dow Jones on Thursday and the MoneyTree on Friday — showed different numbers because of variances in their methodologies, but both indicated a significant drop for Washington state and a rise nationally from the same period last year.
Dow Jones reported a 2 percent upswing in national investment, with the bulk of the quarter’s 806 deals concentrated in the information technology sector. Washington state mirrored the trend, with seven of 26 deals found in the IT sector.
Moreover, while Washington’s investment dollars plummeted in the third quarter, both reports indicate a fairly steady number of deals, with only a slight drop from 29 deals in the third quarter of 2012 to 26 in 2013.
Stephen Sommerville, an assurance partner at PwC’s Seattle office, said that between the first quarter’s lower numbers and the third quarter’s reports, 2013 is “not looking like a better year” for Washington. But he still thinks the amount of dollars invested shouldn’t be the only measure to consider.
“If you look at the number of deals [and] the number of companies being invested in, you still have a fairly healthy clip,” he said.
Sommerville also thought the type of deals in Washington during the quarter required less funding. He said the state’s pool was mostly made up of early-stage software startups, which don’t require as much capital.
In past quarters, he said, state startups needed more initial capital. Startups outside of the software sector take much more funding to get off the ground, he said.
“Things like clean tech were a really broad space a few years ago,” he said. In contrast to a software company in its early stage, Sommerville said clean tech and biotechnology companies need heavy funding at every stage.
Jeff Grabow, Ernst & Young’s west region venture-capital leader, said the VC slowdown in Washington could just indicate a lull in the venture cycle.
“Year to year, quarter to quarter, it’s not meant to be super meaningful because it’s a [10-year] cycle,” he said.
Alisa Reznick: 206-464-2195 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information in this article, originally published Oct. 17, 2013, was corrected Oct. 18, 2013. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the national total of venture capital invested in the third quarter of 2012. The correct amount was $6.63 billion.