From the category archives:

Private Equity Jobs

In an almost interesting fashion, Pitchbook, the private equity data provider, is out with a look at the 2018 startup graveyard.  The tally reviews companies that died in the year of 2018.

Before looking at the list, which companies would you guess are on the list?  Does a certain blood-testing company come to mind?  Perhaps one with a female founder who was accused of fraud, along with her ex-boyfriend?  What other companies would you guess went down in flames in 2018?  Here’s the list.

The Top Death of 2018

The following figure has the list of the top company to meet an untimely demise in 2018.  Which company was the worst death of 2018?  Without question, the answer is Theranos.  The blood-testing company saw $9 billion in value disappear out of thin air, as regulatory scrutiny brought down Elizabeth Holmes’ path to billionaire.  Instead of running a darling of the venture capital industry, Miss Holmes is now dealing with the aftermath of alleged fraud.

Along with the $9 billion in valuation went $810 million in venture capital raised funding.  May Theranos’ goals of advanced drug testing live in peace, and potentially be achieved some day.  That day, though, is not 2018.


theranos Source: Pitchbook

The Other Members of the Death List

What other companies show up on Pitchbook’s 2018 startup graveyard list?  As depicted in the following tombstone, eleven other companies show up on the list.

The list includes Rethink Robotics.  The company made robots designed to work alongside humans.  The demand, or perhaps more so the competition, led to the downfall of the technology company.  With its demise went a whopping $291 million in value and $150 million in venture capital raised.  Too bad this Boston-based company failed to make it to see the Red Sox play in the World Series.

Another massive company that breathed its last breath in 2018 was Shyp.  The San Francisco-based company provided on-demand shipping services, a long-held goal for many internet companies.  Before Shyp died, the company had at once reached a valuation of $275 million, with $62 million in venture capital raised.

The fourth member of the top five companies to die in 2018 is Apprenda.  The New York-based company provided software to developers.  With its death went $90 million in paper wealth and $56 million venture capital funding.

The last member of the top five deaths in 2018 is Airwave.  The drone analytics provider failed to generate enough revenue for its services, and with it disappeared $59 million in value and $104 million in venture capital raised.

The other companies on Pitchbook’s list include Primary Data, Caresync, Bluesmart, Lantern, Raden, Fieldbook, and Alta.

startupgraveyard Source: Pitchbook

How Much Money Went Down the Tube?

With the list of 12 companies that went down the tube now established, one might ask – How much money was actually lost with the deaths of these companies?  The answer: $1.4 billion in venture capital funding.  That’s a massive amount, although not nearly enough to discourage venture capital investors from looking for the next big thing.


In a fascinating look at the startup companies that died in 2018, on top of the list of most prominent deaths is Theranos.  The company once reached a valuation of $9 billion before going belly-up in early 2018.  Other top companies to end up in the 2018 trash bin include Rethink Robotics, Shyp, Apprenda, and Airware.  May they rest in peace this Halloween.


Every now and then we review how the financial sector is doing.  Before looking, which U.S. state would you guess is #1 for financial sector employment?  Would you guess New York – the home of Wall Street?  Perhaps Chicago (Illinois), with its heavy focus on insurance services?  What about California, with its heavy focus on venture capital and private equity professionals?

What about growth?  Which states would you guess have the strongest absolute growth in financial sector employment?  Perhaps places with lower income tax burden, such as Florida or Texas?  Perhaps the largest population states – California, New York, Florida, Texas – would lead the pack here?  Or, perhaps the high cost of living in these states is pushing the financial sector to employment in other states?

Take your guesses now, because the answers follow.

Where is the Base of Financial Employment

First, a look at where the base of financial employment is headquartered.  The tree map below is average monthly employment in the financial sector by U.S. state for the first seven months of 2018.  Interestingly, financial firms headquartered in California hold first place, with about 5.9 million employees.

The remaining states in the top five include Texas (5.4 million), New York (5.0 million), Florida (4.0 million), and Illinois (2.7 million).

Unsurprisingly, the financial employment base in a state is moderately related to the population base of a state.  This correlation, though, is not perfect, and the industry is certainly changing where it wants to be headquartered.

Financial Employment1 Source: BLS

Where is Financial Employment Growing?

The relatively moderate connection between the population base and the financial industry employment base means that we need to look at growth measures to see how things are changing.  The following line graph has the growth in financial industry employment by state from 1990 through July 2018.

The chart provides no really big surprises.  The biggest population states show the strongest absolute growth in employment.  On top is California, with approximately 800,000 new financial industry employees in 2018.

Perhaps the most surprising finding is the strength of the financial industry in Texas.  Financial industry employment growth in Texas is closing in on California’s 800,000, and if the economy continues to expand, financial industry employment in Texas may surpass California within the next few years.  Guess it pays to have a reputation of light regulation, no income tax, and a population that is entrepreneurial and independent by nature.

Financial Employment Growth2 Source: BLS

Where is the Growth Rate in Financial Employment Strongest?

The previous two sections had a fair amount of connection with the population base, meaning that financial industry employment grows by more the larger the population of an area is.  Reported here is the growth rate experience.

Before looking, take a guess at which states have the strongest financial industry employment growth rate?  Would you guess small states, such as Massachusetts or perhaps states with no income tax, such as Nevada?  The result follows.

Interestingly, the top state for financial industry employment growth rate is … drum roll please … none other than … New Mexico.  The financial industry has expanded by an average of 4.3 percent for 2018.  Surprised?  We were too.

The other top growing states for the financial industry include Idaho (4.2 percent), Wyoming (3.7 percent), Washington (3.4 percent), and Florida (3.0 percent).  Interestingly, only one of the largest states with a financial industry base also shows up with a strong financial industry growth rate.

Financial Employment, Growth Rate3 Source: BLS


In a look at the financial industry’s employment base, some interesting and unsurprising results appear.  Perhaps the most interesting result is the growth of the industry in certain states, while the weakest of the financial industry in other states.  Times are changing, and so is the financial industry.

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Private equity data provider Pitchbook is out with their annual report on which universities produce the most venture capital (VC)-backed companies?  Before looking, which universities would you guess show up on the list?

Would you guess Ivy League schools, with their highly ambitious, academically fresh graduates?  Perhaps you’d guess universities in places where the state government’s tax policy and regulations are more favorable to entrepreneurship?

Here’s the look.

The Top 10

The top university for creating VC-backed companies is – drum roll please – Stanford.  The California-based institution has seen 1,178 VC-backed entrepreneurs, 1,015 companies, and a whopping $28.84 billion in capital raised.  Stanford has been in first place for a while.  Will a university ever knock the Cardinal out of first place?

Interestingly, another California-based university sits in second place.  The University of California at Berkeley has had 1,137 entrepreneurs, 1,012 companies, and $20.78 billion in capital raised.

Rounding out the top five are third place Massachusetts Institute of Technology (941 entrepreneurs/819 companies/$21.24 billion capital raised), Harvard University (900 entrepreneurs/799 companies/$25.35 billion raised), and the University of Pennsylvania (838 entrepreneurs/757 companies/$15.82 billion in capital raised).

Are you surprised by which universities show up at the top of the list?  Stanford, University of California at Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania.  All well-respected universities, two of which are Ivy League institutions and two of which are top California-based schools.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, two states – California and Massachusetts – make up 80 percent of the top 5.  This is generally consistent with the geographic breakdown of venture capital raised by state.

With the top 5 established, which universities would you guess show up ranks six through ten?

The bottom half of the top 10 includes Cornell University (750 entrepreneurs/693 companies/$20.10 billion in capital raised), University of Michigan (712 entrepreneurs/638 companies/$12.07 billion in capital raised), Tel Aviv University (640 entrepreneurs/531 companies/$7.91 billion in capital raised), the University of Texas (636 entrepreneurs/582 companies/$7.70 billion in capital raised), and the University of Illinois (526 entrepreneurs/484 companies/$9.94 billion in capital raised).

Interestingly, the top 10 of VC-backed companies and the universities their founders attended includes only one non-U.S.-based institution, Tel Aviv University.  We wonder how this list will look 20 years down the road with the ambitions of Chinese entrepreneurs.

Perhaps more interestingly is the lack of a European-based university in the top 10.  Given that the European Union is the largest common economic zone (the GDP of the combined European Union nations is about 20 percent higher than the United States).

Ranks1to10 Source: Pitchbook

Ranks 11 through 25

Shifting now to universities ranked 11th through the 25th.  Would you guess some European and China-based companies show up here?  Interestingly, the answer is no.  Of the 11th through 25th ranked universities, only one non-U.S. university shows up on the list – Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (Israel).

The 11th ranked university is Yale University – the fourth Ivy League school on the list thus far – with 504 entrepreneurs, 458 companies, and $11.44 billion in capital raised.  The remaining members of the top 25 includes Princeton, University of California at Los Angeles, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin, Columbia University, Brown, University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, University of Waterloo, University of Washington, Brigham Young University, New York University, and Dartmouth College.

11to25 Source: Pitchbook

The Rest of the Top 50

The remaining members of the top 50 (ranks 26 through 50) are given below.  Lots of money being invested in bright-minded college graduates.

26through50 Source: Pitchbook


In an interesting review of the top universities for entrepreneurship, some interesting findings emerge.  Perhaps the most interesting finding is the dominance of U.S.-based universities in garnering capital from venture capital funds.  Of the top 25 universities, 23 of the 25 are U.S.-based.  Still good to be an American.

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Will VC Values Continue to Explode Through 2018?

May 28, 2018

Happy Memorial Day!  Is there any better way to celebrate the day than to postulate on where venture capital (VC) valuations are heading  for the remainder of 2018?  Well, yes there is, but for the moment let’s think about valuations. Where Valuations Have Been First, here’s a look at Pitchbook’s recently released first quarter valuation […]

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How Do the Bay Area’s Returns Vary By City?

April 3, 2018

Pitchbook, the private equity and venture capital data provider is out with a fascinating look at venture capital returns and venture investments by city within the Bay area (broader San Francisco area). Before looking at the map of amount of funds investment and the associated returns, take a guess at which cities you think would […]

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What are the Top 25 Private Equity Firms and How Much Did They Raise Recently?

February 19, 2018

Private Equity International is out with their annual PEI300 report, which details the top 300 private equity firms by amount raised.  Before looking, which companies would you guess would be on top? The Broader View Before taking a look at the list of the top 25 private equity firms, how much would you guess the […]

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Are Unicorns Frequently Overvalued?

February 6, 2018

A couple of professors out of Stanford University and the University of British Columbia are out with a new, fresh look at the intricacies of venture capital valuations (Squaring Venture Capital Valuations with Reality, National Bureau of Economic Research Paper #23895).  Their topic is unicorn valuations, and specifically whether so-called unicorn valuations are frequently overvalued.  […]

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The 2017 Startup Graveyard

January 23, 2018

Pitchbook  is out with a fascinating look at the so-called 2017 “startup graveyard”.  There are 11 companies on Pitchbook’s list. Let’s take a look. The Startup Graveyard On top of Pitchbook’s list of notable 2017 failures is Jawbone.  Jawbone manufactured speakers and wearable technology, and at one point had a valuation of $1.5 billion, with […]

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How Did Financial Job Growth Compare in 2017?

December 12, 2017

The year is almost over, which makes now a perfect time to take a look back and see how job growth in the financial industry did compared to other industries.  Here’s a look. The Broad View Before looking at the growth in jobs in the financial sector compared to all other sectors, here’s a background […]

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An Update on Private Equity Fund of Funds

November 13, 2017

Preqin, the investment intelligence data provider, recently released their special report on the state of private equity funds of funds across the world.  Here’s a look. Where are the Private Equity Fund of Funds Managers? First, a question – where would you guess the most managers of private equity fund of funds are located?  The […]

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