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Flight to Quality Following an Unprecedented Boom

We are back again with our semi-annual update on the state of female-led companies raising institutional capital in NYC using Series A rounds as our barometer.

After years of continued increases, Series A investment slowed in NYC in the first half of 2016, which resulted in a similar impact in the number of female-led companies in NYC that raised Series A rounds.

Following an unprecedented bull run in tech-financing, venture capitalists are feeling the pressure of inflated valuations and a tightening of the market. This has resulted in a stronger focus on quality over quantity. On both coasts, VCs are investing larger amounts of money in fewer, higher-quality (i.e., lower-risk) companies with experienced founders and strong business plans.  Overall, average dollar sizes for these rounds have increased, but the total number of rounds has decreased. For example, the average Series A round size was $9.6 million in the first half of 2016, representing an increase of $1.7 million compared to the same period in 2015.

Despite the less-than-stellar figures outlined below, there remains strong activity in seed stage funding. According to Primary Venture Partners Q2 NYC Seed Deal Report, the average size of seed deals in NYC increased by 20% in Q2 2016 compared to the same period last year.  The average seed round size increase is evidence of the capital required to achieve competitive Series A metrics. Additionally, investors are pushing their portfolio companies to focus on a path to positive unit economics early in their life cycle. Overall, these factors are leading to a healthier investing and operating environment.

Note that the data below contains information on Series A financings recorded publicly. If we are missing anything, please let us know. Our primary sources are Mattermark, Crunchbase and CB Insights.

graph 1To start, we did an overall review of A rounds globally, nationally and regionally.

A rounds in 1H 2016:

Globally: 669

United States: 350

Bay Area: 111

NYC: 42

Los Angeles: 22

Boston: 17

Seattle: 15

Chicago: 11

Washington D.C.: 10


The total number of Series A rounds in the U.S. increased by 5% in the first half of 2016 year-over-year. The number of Series A rounds in NYC declined by (21%) in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. Geographically, Series A deals are more diverse, as capital is increasingly being distributed beyond the tech hubs on the West and East Coasts.

One year ago we provided an update comparing the first half of 2015 with the same period in 2014. In the first half of 2015, 17% of all A rounds in NYC had female CEOs, and the number of NYC-based companies with female CEOs that raised Series A financing tripled, or grew 200%, from the first half of 2014 to the first half of 2015.

In the first half of 2016, 14% of all A rounds in NYC had female CEO’s, or six companies total.  In 2015, 17% of all A rounds in NYC had female CEO’s. Despite the overall decrease of 21% in NYC, female founders continue to attract capital at an institutional level.


graph 2In NYC, the largest Series A round led by female founders was Primary, which raised $8.0 million, led by US Venture Partners. The next largest was goTenna, which raised $7.5 million, led by Walden Venture Capital. In terms of sectors, three of the six companies are e-Commerce (Primary, Sakara Life, Rockets of Awesome). One is a hardware company (goTenna), one is a recruiting company (pymetrics) and the other is a healthcare company (Everplans).


graph 3On average, these companies spent 662 days in the seed stage.


graph 4In the Bay Area, 11 companies that received Series A funding in the first half of 2016 were led by a female CEO, or 10% of the total. This represents a 38% year-over-year increase in the number of female-led companies that raised an A in the Bay Area compared with the first half of 2015. Additionally, some are serial entrepreneurs who have previously raised venture capital at other companies.  While this number is encouraging, we continue to see stronger representation in NYC of female-led companies attracting institutional capital.


graph 5Other significant Series A raises completed by female-led CEOs in the first half of 2016 were Denver-based Havenly and Los Angeles-based FIGS, Vow to be Chic and HopSkipDrive. As Los Angeles continues to be a hub for technology and e-commerce, these financings reflect the increase in diversity of founders in the ecosystem.

A Rounds in 1H 2015:

Globally: 642

United States: 335

Bay Area: 99

NYC: 53

Boston: 23

Los Angeles: 20

Austin: 18

Chicago: 11

Seattle: 10

Washington, D.C.: 9


graph 6Overall, NYC remains more female-founder friendly than SF, as the percentage of female-led companies raising Series A is greater in NYC than in SF. As forecasted, larger seed rounds have led to a decline in the overall number of Series A rounds.

As we look at institutional capital backing female founders, so far 2016 is proving to be an exciting year for those moving from Series A to Series B. In the first half of 2016, there have been five total Series B rounds led by female founder/CEOs in NYC. In the first half of 2015, there were only three, which represents a sizable increase compared to the same period in 2016. This proves that capital is readily available for well-run, post-Series A, female-led companies.

  1. PolicyGenius – January 2016 – $15.0 million – Revolution Ventures (lead)
  2. Eloquii – April 2016 – $15.0 million – Acton Capital Partners (lead)
  3. Take the Interview – May 2016 – $5.0 million – 3TS Capital Partners (lead)
  4. theSkimm – June 2016 – $8.0 million – 21st Century Fox (lead)
  5. The Muse – June 2016 – $16.0 million – Icon Ventures (lead)


The data reflects several key trends:

  • NYC continues to be among the most female-friendly venture communities as the percentage of female-led companies seeking A rounds remains higher than the historical average;
  • A flight to quality has caused institutionally-led A rounds to increase in size and fall in volume;
  • The flight to quality is also impacting series seed rounds as seed valuations and seed round sizes increase while the total number of seed rounds decline;
  • Female-led companies that obtain Series A capital continue to perform well as evidenced by the increase in the number of female-led companies that successfully raised a Series B in the first half of 2016 compared to prior periods.


1H 2016 Series A Rounds – NYC – Female CEO

  • Primary– $8.0 million – June – Galyn Bernard
  • goTenna – $7.5 million – March – Daniela Perdomo
  • Rockets of Awesome – $7.0 million – March – Rachel Blumenthal
  • Everplans – $6.4 million – June – Abby Schneiderman
  • Pymetrics – $6.1 million – February – Frida Polli
  • Sakara Life – $4.8 million – January – Whitney Tingle, Danielle DuBoise

1H 2016 Series A Rounds – Bay Area – Female CEO

  • Cortexyme – $15.0 million – January – Casey Lynch
  • FOVE – $11.0 million – March – Yuka Kojima
  • Front – $10.0 million – May – Mathilde Collin
  • Nima – $9.2 million – May – Shireen Yates
  • Rocksbox – $8.7 million – March – Meaghan Rose
  • Modsy – $8.0 million – February – Shanna Tellerman
  • ThirdLove – $8.0 million – February – Heidi Zak
  • Node – $7.5 million – June – Falon Fatemi
  • Luka – $4.4 million – April – Eugenia Kuyda
  • Zybooks – $4.0 million – February – Smita Bakshi
  • Schoola – $3.6 million – May – Stacey Boyd