Women-led companies saw historic VC deal share in 2015

Nearly 18% of deals went to teams with at least one woman, more than double the number in 2006

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
March 8, 2016
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March is Women's History Month, and today just happens to also be International Women's Day as well, so what better way to celebrate both of those than by giving you some good news about women in tech.

In 2015, the percentage of global venture capital that went to a startup with at least one woman founder reached its highest level ever, according to data from PitchBook.

That's the good news. The not so great news is that the number is still a little low: only 17.5 percent. That number should be much higher, I think we can all agree.

At least we can say that the number has been going at least the last 10 years. Back in 2006, it was only 7.7 percent, so it's more than doubled in that time frame.

The data also broke down the percentage of dollars going to female-only found teams, those teams that were split evenly between men and women, and those that are majority men. Surprisingly, it was the second two categories that have been increasing, while the teams of all women raising funding have been decreasing.

In 2014, 22.8 percent of deals went to teams with only women; in 2015 it dropped to 18.9 percent. Teams with half men and half women saw 38.4 percent, while majority male teams saw 38.8 percent; those increased to 40.7 percent and 40.5 percent, respectively.

In fact, if you go back to 2011, it was nearly a quarter, 24.6 percent, of all deals that were going to teams with no men on them. So, even as women have been making gains in the tech industry, there have also been setbacks.

The sectors with female founders that had the highest percentage of deals were: consumer goods & recreation, with 28.5 percent; pharmacueticals and biology, with 19.8 percent; and media, with 15.7 percent. 

Top investors for women-led teams

Not surprisingly, the top investors for teams with female founders are also among those investors catering only to those teams

Among those with 10 completed deals, the top was BBG Ventures, which made 100 percent of its investments in women led teams. 

The firm backed by AOL and grew out of AOL’s #BUILTBYGIRLS initiative. Its investments typically range from $100,000 to $250,000. It has made 24 investments in 21 companies.

Some of the companies it has invested in include Zola, HopSkipDrive, Modsy, Thesis Couture, goTenna and CaptureProof.

Among those with 100 completed deals, the top investor was Golden Seeds, with 94.5 percent of its deals.

Since 2005, Golden Seeds has invested over $80 million in start-up businesses and over 76 companies have received Golden Seeds funding. 

Funding for women-led companies

When it comes to women-led companies raising money, New York and Los Angeles actually have a better record than Silicon Valley.  According to a report out from Female Founders Fund in January. 

Overall, Series A rounds grew by 8 percent in the United States in 2015, according to a report out from Female Founders Fund in January. Every region saw an increase, except for the Bay Area, which saw Series A deals decline by 11 percent.

So, of course, the number of companies led by women who raised a Series A in the Bay Area also decreased last year. There were only 16 such companies in 2015, out of 204 Series A rounds, representing only eight percent of the total. The number was also down 30 percent from 2014.

While the Bay Area remains the area with the highest number of companies led by women getting funding, it actually has a lower overall percentage than either New York or Los Angeles.

In fact, it seems that the best place right now to be a female founder is New York, where there were 13 female-led companies that got a Series A round of funding in 2015, out of a total of 96, for a 14 percent share. That number increased very slightly, by one percent, from 2014. 

In Los Angeles, which is seeing huge gains in Series A fundings overall, with a 110 percent increase year-to-year, there were five female-led companies that raised Series A funding, for a total of 13 percent. That indicates that Los Angels is an up and coming market, but one that is taking its female CEOs up with it.

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