New York Seed Investors Stayed Strong in 2016 As Others Stepped Back

  • Nancy Miller
  • January 9, 2017
  • 2

© Can Stock Photo / rabbit75canTop seed investors in the New York startup community showed their muscle in the final quarter of 2016 and are likely to continue doing so in the coming year, says a new report from Primary Venture Partners. Among the winners in an otherwise difficult year for startups were fintech companies like Payfully and Privacy and Exeq.

Overall, the number of deals in the Q4 2016 totaled 42, raising a total of $65.9 million; average round size came in at $1.6 million, up from $1.3 million a year earlier. Investing was anemic compared to the white-hot pace of 2015 — the number of deals fell 39% from a year earlier while total funding slid 25%.

Primary doesn’t see this as a reason for gloom and doom: “Instead, we think the numbers we’re seeing now represent the market’s natural and healthy normalization around a still-robust, but considerably more rational equilibrium.” Indeed, the numbers are virtually unchanged from Q3 2016, when 45 deals closed, raising $68.6 million for an average round size of $1.5 million.

The underlying numbers indicate that the top players aren’t keeping their powder dry as they continue to invest in quality entrepreneurs. Primary Venture notes that “there has been no corresponding drop-off in the volume of top-quality deals that the most prominent and active seed investors in the city are looking for.”  In its quarterly analysis, Primary writes:

In fact, in comparing the prior two years of seed investments across five leading seed-focused  firms — First Round Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Primary Venture Partners, Greycroft Partners and Founder Collective — we see a relatively steady pace of NYC seed investments year to year. Collectively, the firms made made 49 seed investments in 2015, a number that dropped just 16% in 2016, and is certainly not reflective of the more precipitous drop in overall deal volume witnessed in the NYC seed market as a whole. This suggests that while total deal volume may have declined substantially, there has been no corresponding drop-off in the volume of top-quality deals that the most prominent and active seed investors in the city are looking for.

Some companies on the Primary radar:

In the cybersecurity arena, Primary noted that fundraises at Uplevel Security, a female-founded startup, including the former White House cybersecurity chief ($2.5 million), and Hypr, which raised $3 million to help fulfill its mission of keeping hackers from hacking biometric data.

Overall, software companies accounted for 19% of NYC seed deals in 4Q 2016; healthcare 12%, and next-gen commerce 12%.

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