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, can you guess which company Pitchbook would consider the dark horse IPO of 2020? In year when monster companies went public – DoorDash and Airbnb – would you consider one of these companies as the dark horse? According to Pitchbook, the answer is no.

Hint: the following picture is a view.

Did you guess it? According to Pitchbook, the top dark horse company of 2020 was Snowflake. Snowflake was a large surprise to investors, and fairly young and potentially prematurely filed for its IPO.

The speculations on Snowflake fell to the wayside in mid-September when Snowflake burst onto the scene and achieved a $70 billion valuation. Just seven months earlier, Snowflake was valued at $12.4 billion. The company is now worth over $90 billion.

The Burst on the Scene Company

Robinhood was the first of a class of brokerages known as New Age. The company charges no trading fees, catering to novice retail investors making their first foray into equity markets. At first skeptical, investors turned a green eye to the company, writing checks of almost $1.27 billion in 2020 – which was more than half of all its fundraising activity since its founding.

With over 3 million downloads just this year, Robinhood has become an icon in the investing world and worthy of a top 10 mention.

Top Dramas

This past year offered much drama. According to Pitchbook, two of the top 10 storylines were electric care maker Nikola and streaming startup Quibi. Nikola went through a rollercoaster year, beginning the year with a $3.3 billion valuation, that valuation soared to $34 billion in June, only to drop back down to $7 billion.

On Quibi, the streaming app founded by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg. The company raised $1.75 billion over just two years before it came crashing to a halt in 2020. Quibi opted to return $350 million to shareholders rather than risk further losses.

Other Top Mentions

What else did Pitchbook mention in their top 10 list? Pitchbook lists TikTok as the top deal of the year, Roark’s bet on donuts and coffee as the most intriguing, the intersection of SPACs with sports, the top buyout baron, and others.

Summing up

Overall, lots happened over the past year, and with the end of the pandemic potentially in sight, 2021 may turn out to be a big surprise for many private equity and venture capital watchers.

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