Venture Investments in Asian Companies Rocket to U.S. Levels for First Time Ever in 2017

Investments in Seattle area venture companies climbed 23 percent to $1.57 billion last year, and Washington state ranked 7th in the U.S.

Investments in venture-backed companies in Asia shot up 117 percent last year to $70.8 billion, up from $32 billion the year before, catching up with venture investment in the United States, where investments rose a more moderate 17 percent to $71.9 billion, according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and CB Insights.

The sharp increase in investments in Asian venture companies reflects the emergence of China as a major power in the world of technology.

“2017 was a year of records for the VC ecosystem in this millennium,” said Tom Ciccolella, PwC's US Venture Capital Leader. “Globally, we saw the highest level of financing, driven by several billion-dollar deals from Asia.”  Total venture funding worldwide climbed 50 percent last year to $164.4 billion. Investments in European venture companies climbed 40 percent to $17 billion.

Washington state saw 164 deals worth $1.57 billion in 2017. That's up a solid 23 percent $1.2 billion in 2016 but well below the $1.8 billion invested locally in 2015. Of last year’s total, $625 million was invested in internet companies, $335 million in mobile and telecommunications, and another $236 million in health care companies.

The biggest local investment in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $115 million in Seattle-based Remitly, the largest independent digital remittance company in the United States. The company handled some $3 billion in transfers last year. Other major recipients were Seattle-based Amperity, an intelligent customer data platform that received $28 million, Kirkland-based Mavupharm, a drug company developing treatments for cancer and infectious disease that received $20 million and Seattle-based Seeq, which received $18.6 million for work on its application for helping to process data analytics. 

Nationally, the biggest growth in investments has been in in artificial intelligence companies, which saw 444 deals worth a total of $5 billion in 2017, up 28 percent from the year before. Cycersecurity was another strong area, with 226 deals worth $3.7 billion.

The top five states in total funding in the fourth quarter of 2017 were California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Colorado. Washington, with 32 deals, came in seventh, with about one-fifteenth the number of deals in California. In terms of regions, for all of 2017, Silicon Valley venture-backed startups received the most funding ever, with total investments surging to $12.1 billion, up 57 percent from 2016. 

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