Keeping a Pulse on Austin’s Funding Activity: 2021 Recap
Texas Deal Highlights by Mason Rathe
Signed, sealed, and delivered. Austin had its biggest year on record in 2021, and it wasn’t even close. Calling 2021 a mega year is an understatement. We brought in $4.7 billion in venture funding—yes, that is a B as in billion—twice as high as any previous year on record. This has been a long time coming, as in 2018 through 2020, we surpassed $2 billion per year, but never topped $2.5 billion. Then here comes cruddy old 2021, with us still in the throes of the pandemic. It seemingly went by in the blink of an eye, yet it blew all previous years out of the water.
What’s exciting is while we still see a healthy amount of new business formation and early-stage funding, Austin companies are increasingly seeing more demand for later-stage rounds. It’s just further evidence that Austin has the infrastructure to not only start and grow a business, but additionally the necessary resources such as critical mass of talent and variety of funding sources to build long term, sustainable organizations. Shattering all previous records, we had 43 companies raise $25-million-plus rounds in 2021.
Largest Deals of the Year
- Iodine Software, a machine learning healthcare software company, announced a strategic growth deal in December of undisclosed amount with private equity firm Advent International at a valuation of greater than $1B. A new unicorn, Iodine has now raised two private equity rounds, though funding amounts have not been disclosed
- Homeward, a residential home-buying enablement platform, raised $371M in financing in May including a $136M Series B led by Norwest Venture Partners at a valuation “just north of $800 million.” The company has also secured $235M in debt. Existing investors participated in the Series B including Adams Street, Javelin, and LiveOak Venture Partners.
- Workrise, formerly known as RigUp, an Austin-based oil and gas skilled labor discovery and matching platform, became a billion dollar company in 2019, and is expanded its focus in 2021 to renewable energy with a $300M Series E round in May at a $2.9B valuation led by Baillie Gifford with participating from Founders Fund, Bedrock Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Moore Strategic Ventures, 137 Ventures, Brookfield Growth Partners, and Franklin Templeton. Workrise has now raised over $750M to date.
- ICON, an Austin, Texas-based developer of 3D-printed homes, raised $207M in Series B funding in August. Norwest Venture Partners led, and was joined by 8VC, Bjarke Ingels Group, BOND, Citi Crosstimbers, Ensemble, Fifth Wall, LEN X, Moderne Ventures and Oakhouse Partners. ICON is focused on tackling homelessness, but it’s also focused on profound opportunities to build lunar space stations and Mars habitats
- ZenBusiness, the one-stop guided platform tailored for the entrepreneur’s journey to launch, run, and grow a successful business, announced a $200M Series C round in November, led by Oak HC/FT and including Cathay Innovation, SoftBank Vision Fund, and Greycroft. ZenBusiness, now valued at $1.7B, has raised approx. $275M in total.
- The Zebra, an insurance comparison platform, closed a $150M Series D funding round in April with participation from Weatherford Capital, Accel, Silverton Partners, Ballast Point Ventures, Daher Capital, Floodgate Fund, and KDT. The Zebra was vaulted into unicorn status after doubling its revenue in 2020, with more than a $1B valuation. They have now raised over $255M to date.
- Ambiq, a developer of integrated circuits for wearables and other electronics, raised $145M from Trout Creek Ventures, Shenzhen Capital Group and other undisclosed investors, in March.
- Elligo Health Research, a clinical research and technology company, raised $135 million Series E in September led by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and Ally Bridge Group.
- Outdoorsy Inc., a Austin-based on-demand recreational vehicle rental company, reported raising $120M in new capital in June from a $90M private placement equity round led by Moore Strategic Ventures with participation from ADAR1 Partners, Monashee Capital, SiriusPoint Ltd., Convivialité Ventures, Altos Ventures, iAngels, and Greenspring Associates and a $30M debt facility from Pacific Western Bank.
So what’s next? With a couple of mega funding rounds already announced for 2022, it wouldn’t be a fool’s bet to say that we can even break the $4.7 billion record this year. The pieces are in play for quite a year, quite a decade, and I’m here for the ride.
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