SoCal's Startup Scene Is Surging: A Look At the Biggest Deals of the Second Quarter
The L.A. tech scene is booming despite a year-plus pandemic and a string of natural disasters. Rocket makers, sneaker sellers and fusion power creators were among those that dominated the list of L.A. venture deals for the first half of 2021.
On Wednesday, the National Venture Capital Association and Pitchbook released their Venture Monitor report which tracks investment across the country. Both Los Angeles and the U.S. overall notched record-breaking levels of VC investment as the COVID-19 pandemic rebound continues.
A few highlights from the report:
- At the national level, megadeals of $100 million have become more common, and L.A. appears to be no exception, with all 10 of its largest deals coming it at $100 million-plus.
- VC investment in Q2 for the Los Angeles-Long Beach area totaled $8.5 billion, spread across 365 different deals. That's slightly down from Q1's $9.4 billion, but still more than double the investment from the same time period last year ($3.9 billion).
- Los Angeles remains a powerhouse, but it still lags behind Silicon Valley. The $8.5 billion dollars of Q2 investment puts Los Angeles-Long Beach second, behind only the Bay Area ($26.7 billion) and New York City ($12.6 billion) in terms of total VC deal activity. Boston, Seattle and Denver round out the top 6.
- The white-hot market streak continues. For the year to date, VC investment in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area has totaled $17.9 billion across 762 deals. That's easily on pace to shatter 2020's record total of $22.7 billion.
- The three largest deals in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area came from the aerospace industry. Elon Musk's SpaceX raised $1.2 billion while upstart rival 3-D rocketmaker Relativity Space pulled in $650 million sending its valuation soaring to $4.2 billion. Defense contractor raised $450 million catapulting the Irvine-based company's valuation to $4.6 billion.
- Of the top 10 largest deals, three were fintech software companies.
- Energy and software also received large investments in excess of $100 million.
- Santa Monica scooter company Bird Rides, which is plotting out an IPO via SPAC, also made the list. The blank-check company Switchback II Corporation was marketing a PIPE offering to investors.
- All of the top 10 largest VC investments were later stage investments—a trend which was generalizable across the entire United States.
- Exits were strong nationally and for the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, with IPOs representing the dominant pathway to liquidity. The region's largest exits came from FIGS, ZipRecruiter and Bridg.
- FIGS, the Santa Monica Healthcare apparel brand, IPO'd for an exit of $3.4 billion.
- ZipRecruiter, the Santa Monica online recruiting platform, also IPO'd for an exit of $2.4 billion.
- Bridg, the Los Angeles SaaS data infrastructure company, was acquired by Cardlytics for an exit of $350 million.
Here's a look at Pitchbook's list of the biggest second-quarter deals in Southern California — from the Santa Barbara area to Orange County:
- LA Second Only to SF in Total Venture Deal Value: Report - dot.LA ›
- Here Are Los Angeles' Top Venture Capitalists - dot.LA ›
- Los Angeles Venture Capital Activity Was Up in Q3 - dot.LA ›
- VCs See Valuations Reach Record Highs as Optimism Stays High - dot.LA ›
- SoCal Venture Pipeline Connects Startups with Series A Funds - dot.LA ›
- Young LA Startups Saw Their Valuations Surge in 2021 - dot.LA ›
- Los Angeles Startups Closed a Record Number of Deals in Q3 - dot.LA ›
- VCs Are Flush, But Funding Mostly Male-Led Startups - dot.LA ›
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Pejman Nozad, a founding managing partner at Pear VC, joins this episode of LA Venture to discuss Pear VC's current initiatives, including its accelerator and fellowships. He's seen as one of the most successful angel investors in the area, and for good reason: he has made more than 300 investments in his lifetime.
"I'm a child of revolution and war and difficult times," said Nozad of his upbringing in Iran during the revolution.
Nozad went to college before dropping out. That's when his brother told him about his dream to go to America. After his brother was denied a visa multiple times, Nozad went himself to the embassy and got lucky; the woman in charge of the process liked him enough to approve him.
"When you're in [your] early twenties, you don't analyze much of the future. And then your risk-takers. I came to America in 1992 with $700 and I didn't speak any word of English," said Nozad.
Nozad went from working at a carwash, then a yogurt shop, to a (now famous) Persian rug store in Palo Alto. Many of his clients happened to be CEOs and venture capitalists; Nozad wanted to be part of that community.
"I was very lucky because I had access to people who normally nobody can see them, but I was hanging out with them at Sunday barbecues while selling carpets," said Nozad.
In his early days as an investor, Nozad bet on companies that included Dropbox and DoorDash. He said he took inspiration as a venture capitalist in lessons he learned from his time playing professional soccer in Iran.
"In soccer, you can score minute one, or you can score at minute 90. Both of them [are] one goal and you can win the game. So, when you go to fundraise, don't get disappointed if you hear a lot of nos, because the yes could be the last meeting after the whole two months," he said.
dot.LA Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
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- Here Are Los Angeles' Top Venture Capitalists - dot.LA ›
In this episode of LA Venture, Julie Wroblewski talks about starting Magnify Ventures and helping modern families.
Wroblewski worked with Melinda French Gates to start Pivotal Ventures. For Wroblewski, it was her dream job as she got to lead venture capital investment strategy for five years. One of the focus areas at Pivotal was around caregiving innovation and American family homes.
Wroblewski cites a report from one of Magnify's partners that estimates the care economy at $648 billion in the United States, already larger than the pharmaceutical market. Wroblewski's fund is writing up to $2.5 million checks into companies that will transform life, work and care for modern families.
"I started to see what I thought was a very exciting and still overlooked category of investment in venture capital around the care economy, and family-focused technology and was also seeing a lot of flow and founders," said Wroblewski.
As an investor, she is particularly interested in tools like household optimization that help families be both more efficient and joyful. She also wants to let parents know they don't have to be experts. Technology can help give them access to what they need, when they need it.
"Technology is moving closer into our lives all the time and solving increasingly human, complex, difficult problems, including, how we care for and manage care for children and our loved ones--the things that are most personal to us," said Wroblewski.
"We've seen such a wave of technology innovation in the workplace. You know, we now use so many different tools to help increase our productivity at work, to improve our health and well being in some cases in the workplace," she added. "And I think we haven't yet seen the same sort of investment in innovation move into some areas of family life and household management. And so I think that that's going to change."
dot.LA Audience Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.