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Bubble Alert: Venture Capital Investment Hits Record High

Venture capital investors put a whopping $329.9 billion into 17,054 deals last year. Views differ on the implications.
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Venture capital activity hit an all-time high last year, but there are opposite ways to interpret the data. VC bulls say the numbers point to the vibrancy of the asset class, while VC bears say it’s a bubble.

Venture capital set a record in 2021 for deal-making, exit and fundraising dollars by “stunning amounts,” according to research firm PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. A whopping $329.9 billion was invested in 17,054 deals during the year.

Optimists say the money is supporting vital economic activity. For example, growing New York City coffee-shop company Blank Street, recently garnered commitments for its third funding round in the last year, Vinay Menda, Blank Street’s CEO, told The Wall Street Journal.

The latest round totaled $35 million, up from $25 million in the prior round only three months ago. “We live in a world where capital is available,” Menda said.

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But some think it’s a little too available.

Fred Wilson, a partner at big-time VC investor Union Square Ventures noted in a November blog entry that $100 million investment rounds are now common for companies that don’t yet have a sustainable business model.

“I think they [investors] are being delusional, comforted by the likelihood that someone will come along and pay a higher price in the next round,” he said. “But it seems that person may also be delusional. Because when you model things out, the numbers just don’t add up.”