Venture capital is off to a slow start in 2014, report finds

The amount of money invested in local companies during the first quarter looks meager, but if past years are any indication, a slow start to the year may not be cause for concern just yet.

Forty-three Washington area firms attracted a combined $217.5 million during the first three months of the year. That’s fewer dollars than in any single quarter last year and marks an 18.4 percent decline when compared to the $266.5 million raised during the first quarter of 2013.

Brad Phillips, director of emerging company services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said a soft first quarter is common for the Washington region. In fact, the amount of money raised in the first quarter has been substantially lower than the combined average of the three subsequent quarters in all but two years since 2005. For example, local firms collected $266.5 million in the first quarter of 2013. The average amount of venture capital raised in the remaining three quarters of the year tallied $417 million.

“I don’t necessarily think people should start getting nervous,” he said.

The figures were reported Friday in a quarterly report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. Thomson Reuters provided the data.

The report defines the Washington region as Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District, though the list of deals published by Capital Business excludes those outside of D.C. and its neighboring suburbs.

Of those regions, Virginia-based companies grabbed roughly 58 percent of all investment dollars for the quarter. Maryland took in 31 percent of investment dollars, followed by the District with 10 percent.

Reston-based business software company Appian collected the largest sum in the quarter, $38.5 million from New Enterprise Associates and Novak Biddle Venture Partners. That investment helped the software industry to rake in $133 million, more money than any other sector, during the quarter.

Healthcare services ranked a distant second with $31.6 million from investors. Reston-based Specialists On Call, a company that provides emergency consultations with specialty doctors using videoconferencing and other technology, was the sole investment in that category.

The recent resurgence of biotechnology investments appears to have ebbed, the data show, as four Washington area firms raised just $4.8 million during the first three months of the year. The decline can be attributed in part to the fact that biotechnology firms have been going public in greater numbers in recent months, meaning companies in that industry have more options for raising capital. Indeed, GlycoMimetics, Intrexon and MacroGenics have all sold shares on the stock market in the past nine months.

“The biotechnology IPO market has been pretty strong over the past five quarters, so we’ve seen companies go to the public market rather than back to the venture capitalists,” Phillips said.

What does the future hold? It’s difficult to discern meaningful trends from any single quarter. But another report released last week indicates venture capital could continue to grow in the not-so-distant future. Venture capital firms themselves raised $8.9 billion from their financial backers during the first quarter. That’s more than double the amount of money raised during the same time period last year and marks the strongest quarter for the industry since the onset of the recession.

That means investors now have more money to funnel to promising ventures, Phillips said.

Here’s a roundup of reported investments in the first quarter.

Name City Stage Amount ($) Investors
Appian Reston Later Stage $38,464,000 New Enterprise Associates, Novak Biddle Venture Partners
Specialists On Call Herndon Later Stage $31,610,000 Undisclosed firm, Warburg Pincus
Data Design Rockville Early Stage $15,000,000 Grotech Ventures, Razor’s Edge Management, Undisclosed firm
Lotame Solutions Columbia Later Stage $14,999,900 Battery Ventures LP,Emergence Capital Partners,Truebridge Capital Partners, Undisclosed firm, Undisclosed firm
Audax Health Solutions Washington Expansion $14,477,000 Column Group
ID.me McLean Expansion $7,878,000 Blu Venture Investors, BoxGroup, Undisclosed firm, Undisclosed firm, Undisclosed firm
TrackMaven Washington Early Stage $6,149,000 Acceleprise,Bowery Capital, New Enterprise Associates
DataRPM Fairfax Early Stage $5,974,000 CIT GAP Funds, InterWest Partners
Binary Fountain McLean Later Stage $5,700,000 Pioneer Venture Partners
Capital Teas Annapolis Expansion $5,000,000 Pear Tree Partners
Spree Commerce Bethesda Expansion $5,000,000 Red Swan Ventures,Thrive Capital Partners,True Ventures, Undisclosed firm, VegasTechFund
Luminal Frederick Early Stage $4,888,000 Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Undisclosed firm
LiveSafe Arlington Early Stage $4,445,000 Undisclosed firm
3CLogic Rockville Later Stage $4,200,000 Blu Venture Investors, Undisclosed Firm
Speek Ashburn Early Stage $4,000,200 500 Startups, CNF Investments, Crystal Tech Fund, Middleland Capital, Undisclosed firm
Intellinote Herndon Early Stage $1,800,000 Boulder Ventures, Grotech Ventures
Canvas Solutions Reston Expansion $1,783,000 Osage Partners
OpGen Gaithersburg Later Stage $1,725,000 Undisclosed firm, Versant Ventures
Distil Networks Arlington Early Stage $1,348,000 IDEA Fund Partners, ff Venture Capital
Invincea Fairfax Later Stage $1,325,000 Harbert Management, New Atlantic Ventures
Evolent Health Arlington Early Stage $1,279,000 Tarrant Capital IP
Power Fingerprinting Inc Herndon Expansion $1,200,000 Blu Venture Investors, Undisclosed firm
Venga Washington Early Stage $1,000,200 BR Ventures, Undisclosed firm, Undisclosed firm, Undisclosed firm, Undisclosed firm
Vii Network Washington Expansion $650,000 Undisclosed firm
BioDatomics Bethesda Early Stage $350,000 Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Undisclosed firm
Brazen Careerist McLean Expansion $210,000 Kegonsa Capital Partners
OriGene Technologies Rockville Later Stage $200,000 Undisclosed Firm

 

 

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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