The European investing world has been through some rollercoaster years. Through the first quarter of 2021, how are things looking for the famed European venture capital (VC) investing world? Here’s a look.

Angel and Seed Pre-Money Valuations

The first view on European VC world is Pitchbook’s angel and seed pre-money valuations through the first quarter of 2021 (the most recently available quarter). Overall, the average pre-money valuation exploded in the first quarter of 2021, reaching almost €16 million on average. This is well above the 2020 average angel and pre-seed valuation of around €8 million.

The jump in valuations was not just on the average, although some larger company valuations drove the average much higher. Valuations at the 25th, median, and 75th percentile also saw angel and pre-seed valuations rise through the first quarter of 2021, albeit at the 25th percentile, the rise was much less pronounced.

Source: Pitchbook

Angel and Seed Deal Sizes

Moving to a view of angel and seed deal sizes, the average, 75th percentile, and median deal sizes rose sharply in the first quarter of 2021. On the bottom end of the deal size spectrum, the deal size was relatively flat for the 25th percentile of deals.

Overall, the average deal size rose to about €2.3 million in the first quarter of 2021, slightly below the 75th percentile deal size of about €2.5 million. The median deal size surpassed €1 million for the first time ever in 2020, and 2021 continued the rising valuation trend.

Source: Pitchbook

Early-stage VC Pre-Money Valuations

Shifting to the early-stage VC pre-money valuation view, interestingly, the average pre-money valuation has declined through the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020 valuations, dropping to around €20 million from around €23 million in 2020. Early-stage valuations for the other three shown classifications rose, with the 75th percentile rising to around €20 million and the median reaching about €5 million.

Source: Pitchbook

Late-stage VC Pre-Money Valuations

The last view we’ll look at here is the late-stage VC pre-money valuations. Investors (and the companies they’ve previously invested in) took a ride through the first three months of 2021, with the average late-stage VC pre-money valuation exploding to around €650 million, well above the 2020 value of around €100 million. The valuation gains for the other three reported measures – 75th percentile, median, and 25th percentile – also increased, albeit much less pronounced. The 75th percentile shows the most pronounced increase of the three other measures, with the 75th percentile valuation increase from around €25 million in 2020 to around €125 million in the first quarter of 2021.

Source: Pitchbook

Summing Up

Overall, the venture capital investing world in Europe is in good shape through the first few months of 2021. If conditions continue to improve, European venture capital investing may make 2021 a banner year.

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Every now and then, it makes sense to take a broad view of the economic picture. Here’s a look at the American employment picture in five views.

Total Employment

The American employment base has been through some amazing ups and downs. Interestingly, the two most violet movements occurred with the past two – the housing market collapse and the pandemic fallout. Where are we relative to the employment peak of February 2020?

In February 2020, total employment in the U.S. was 152.5 million. The most recent count of employment in the U.S. is 144.3 million. There is still lots of room to catch up to where we were one year and three months ago – over 8 million jobs to be precise.

Source: BLS

A Demographic View

This next view shows the year-over-year growth in employment for certain age groups. Before looking, can you guess which age group has been the strongest winner of the recovery? The options are 25-34 years old, 35-44 years old, 45-54 years old, and 55 years and older.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest gainer is the youngest age group, up 11% in April 2021 (the most recent data point) compared to April 2020.

Perhaps more interestingly is the second largest gainer – individuals aged 55 years and older, up 10% over the prior year.

In third and fourth places are 35-44 years old, up 9% over the prior year and 45-54 years old, up 8% over the prior year.

Source: BLS, Econometric Studios, LLC

Unemployment Rate

No overview of the employment picture would be complete without a view of the unemployment picture. The current unemployment rate as of April 2021 is approaching its historical average since 1950. The rate is still a long way away from the 3.5% rate we saw just before the pandemic shutdowns riddled global economies.

Source: BLS, Econometric Studios, LLC

Unemployment Rate by Education Category

The fourth view is the unemployment rate by education category. Amazingly, the unemployment rate for college graduates at 3.5% is still much lower than for other education groups. The education group with the highest unemployment rate is individuals with just a high school degree at 9.3%.

Source: BLS, Econometric Studios, LLC

Labor Force Participation Rate

One of the more telling indications on the state of the American labor market is the labor force participation rate. Prior to the pandemic, the labor force participation rate had broken a long-term trend in decline, reaching a peak of 63.4% in January 2020. That quickly changed in the aftermath of the pandemic, dropping to a low of 60.2% in April 2020. Since then, individuals’ desire to enter the labor market has moved up somewhat, currently standing at 61.7%.

Source: BLS, Econometric Studios, LLC

Summing Up

Overall, the American job picture is improving, although still with much room to grow.

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It always pays dividends to peek at updated data out of private equity data provider Pitchbook. This month’s benchmark views are no different. Here are some interesting views on private equity benchmarks according to Pitchbook’s May 6th, 2021 release.

Internal Rate of Returns by Vintage

The first view is of internal rate of returns (IRRs) by vintage year of the fund. Before looking, which year would you guess comes out on top?

Interestingly, although not surprising, the 2002 vintage year continues to exhibit the strongest IRR. Pitchbook’s most recent estimate put the 2002 median IRR value at around 16%, slightly above the 2001 value. Not far behind the 2001/2002 recession-induced investing are 2003 and 2000, with both slightly below 14%. The most recent year available – 2015 (remember, this is vintage statistics, so it makes no sense to report on years such as 2019, 2020, or 2021) – has an IRR of around 13%. Not too bad by most measures.

On the other end of the spectrum, the weak IRR years are the years in which the global economy was booming. These years include 2004 through 2010.

Source: Pitchbook

Multiples by Vintage

The next view is multiples by vintage year. Before looking, for the years from pre-1996 through 2015, which year would you guess has had the strongest multiple?

As with the prior graphic, interestingly, although not surprisingly, the year with the strongest multiple using both the pooled multiples method and the equal-weighted pooled multiples is 2001. The 2001 TVPI is 2.16x for pooled multiples and 1.99x for equally weighted pooled multiples. The 2001 results are well ahead of second place, 2002, which has exhibited multiples of 1.99x/1.83x (pooled multiples/equally weighted multiples).

What about the weakest year? So far, 2018 has the weakest measure, with its pooled multiple at 1.14x and its equally weighted multiple at 1.12x. Guess it pays to have a longer period to achieve material investing success.

Source: Pitchbook

One-Year Horizon IRRs by Selected Strategies

A third interesting view offered by Pitchbook was the one-year horizon IRRs by select strategies. Interestingly, the strongest strategy for 2020 was PE growth, with an IRR of 24.5%. Following PE growth’s lead in 2020 was venture capital at 21.3%, buyout at 17.2%, infrastructure at 5.5%, and private debt at 1.9%.

On the bottom end of the IRR spectrum for 2020 is oil & gas at -25.6%. Also in the doldrums in 2020 were secondaries at -2.4%, other PE at 1.4%, and real estate at 1.6%.

Source: Pitchbook

Summing up

Overall, the private equity industry continues to provide healthy measures of success. The future generally looks bright for professionals with a knack for private equity investing.

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A Very Healthy Start to 2021 Private Equity

April 27, 2021

Heading into 2021, some analysts were expecting private equity to see a letdown. The thinking goes that the industry as a whole did incredibly well over the course of the pandemic, and as such, is due for a post-pandemic slowdown. Based upon the first quarter of 2021’s results, this view appears to be headed to […]

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Looking at the Change in Value of the Top 20 Venture Capital-Backed Companies

April 12, 2021

In a fascinating look at the performance of the top 20 venture capital-backed companies, Pitchbook recently provided us with a view of how the top 20 companies have performed from 2019 to 2021. The Top 10 Before looking, take a guess at the which companies you think would show up on top of the list? […]

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Looking at Pitchbook’s Brand New Barometer

March 29, 2021

Asset returns of financial equities depend upon many factors that often get missed when looking at a single figure. These factors capture underlying relationships between economies and markets and the simultaneous change in asset prices. The list of factors includes, among others, interest rates, inflation, and economic growth. The best of analysts can find the […]

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Thinking About Where Market Exits Are Going in 2021

March 15, 2021

With an amazing, sad, crazy, and unprecedented year behind us, the private equity world is looking at 2021 for a boost in activity. Before looking at the 2021 picture, what was the exit activity like in 2020? Let’s have a look. Global Median PE Exit Size by Type The first look is at the global […]

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How Did Financial Employment Do In 2020 Compared To The Other Industries?

March 2, 2021

The American jobs market went through a rollercoaster year in 2020. Leading up to March, forecasters had 2020 on track to be one of the greatest jobs markets on record. Then COVID hit. Unemployment claims soared through the roof. The American economy saw the largest jump in unemployment on record. Forecasters saw a prolonged shutdown […]

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Hot or Not in 2020 Europe

February 15, 2021

The pandemic reshaped our relationships in ways very few guessed would happen just a couple months before its effects materialized. In March, many prognosticators predicted a year of destruction for financial investors. Amazingly, that “consensus” view failed to materialize. Instead, private equity and venture capital markets across a good portion of the financial world heated […]

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What Were the Top 10 Deals of 2020?

February 1, 2021

Over the course of a pandemic-ridden year, more can happen than meets the eye. In an interesting take on what happened in 2020, private equity data provider Pitchbook put together its list of the top 10 deals to happen in 2020. Here they are. The Top Dark Horse Initial Public Offering (IPO) Before reading on, […]

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