Possible Insight

Full Year 2011 “Seed Bubble” Update

with 6 comments

Back in April 2011, I crunched the data on seed investing dollars to show there was probably no generalized bubble. Then in November, I updated the numbers for the first half of 2011 and showed that seed investing was pretty flat.

Now that the full year 2011 angel data is out from the CVR, I have once again combined it with  the VC data from the NVCA and super angel data from EDGAR listings. (My current collation of the data is available in this Excel file) There is a healthy uptick, but it still looks much more like a recovery than a bubble.  Here are the dollar volume charts:

As you can see, angel activity is up substantially. Looking at the detailed CVR reports, seed dollar volume went from a $6.9B annual rate in 1H2011 to a $12.1B annual rate in 2H2011, for a total of $9.5B in 2011.  The fraction going to seed and early stage deals ticked up slightly from 39% to 42%.  So angel seed/early funding is still down 25% from its peak in 2005 for the year. However, 2H2011 was about the same as the peak years 2004-2006. I’d say that seed funding from angels has recovered and if it continues growing, we might see bubble territory in 2012 or 2013.

VC seed funding  dropped dramatically in 2011.  Down 47% in just one year! Average “seed” deal size was down from $4.6M to $2.3M.  I’m always hesitant to generalize from one year’s data, but it certainly looks like something might be changing for VCs.

Which brings us to the super angels. If you look at my spreadsheet, I’ve gotten a bit more structured in this analysis. Per the comments from the last edition, I now break out the planned versus actual fund sizes when looking at the SEC data.

Interestingly, Jeff Clavier’s SoftTech VC actually exceeded his planned number, hitting $55M instead of $35M. Of course, this doesn’t affect my analysis because the firm is a member of the NVCA and presumably included in their numbers. Roger Ehrenberg ‘s IA Ventures hit $98M out of an originally planned $100M and then increased the planned size to $110M. Ron Conway’s SV Angel only had $12M out of a planned $40M, but I’m pretty confident he can hit whatever number he wants. IMAF looks to only have raised $1.5M out of their planned $13M. Note that super angels are still less than 5% of the seed funding market.

Looking forward to 2012, Dave McClure’s 500 Startups is planning to raise a $50M fund and Chris Sacca’s LOWERCASE Capital is planning to raise $65M.  Healthy increases for both of them, but nothing that will fundamentally shift the industry. Individual angels and traditional angel groups are still driving total volume.

Written by Kevin

April 13, 2012 at 5:29 am

6 Responses

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  1. […] inform decision-making. Here’s a highly condensed version of our recent conversation on my latest “Seed Bubble” post (don’t worry, I got Brad’s permission to […]

  2. […] notes on sources and methods, see my previous posts in the series here, here, and here.  Current spreadsheet is here. Now to the money […]

  3. […] review the history of my seed bubble watch, see here, here, here, and here. Recall that my methodology is not designed to produce the most accurate estimate of the […]

  4. […] review the history of my seed bubble watch, see here, here, here,  here, and here.  Recall that I use the Center for Venture Research’s angel data, the  […]

  5. […] again, see here, here, here, here, here, and here for previous posts in this thread. My data sources are the Center for Venture […]

  6. […] here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for previous posts in this thread. My data sources are the Center for […]


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