After the largest year on record for venture investment in 2018, it was safe to wonder if 2019 would start off slower than the heady levels reached last year. Any thoughts of a venture slowdown were quickly dashed by the first quarter of the new year, as 2019 picked up right where 2018 left off with $32.6 billion of capital investment recorded in 1Q. The trend that has emerged in the venture industry over the last few years of fewer, larger venture deals continued unabated in 1Q and in fact accelerated, with deal numbers continuing to shrink even as investment levels maintained their 2018 pace
Every day, new applications are being developed that either process or generate more data than existed on Planet Earth 50 years ago, and the pace of development of those applications shows no sign of slowing down. There are many factors contributing to this trend, only some of which we will touch on here…
Any visit to TechCrunch, VentureBeat, or even the Wall Street Journal will leave the average reader with a sense that AI is taking over a different part of the economy every week. There are an almost endless number of funding press releases and pitch recaps that read “Company XYZ is using AI and machine learning to automate repetitive tasks in the [insert name] industry.”
Within the constant stream of stories on AI, though, one task or function seems to stand out as a particularly frequent target – customer service. A number of early stage companies have set out to eliminate or greatly reduce human involvement in the customer service process using text chat bots, email scripts, and, in more recent years, increasingly lifelike voice assistants.
We have recently launched the first data co-op for small to medium sized eCommerce customers (link here). The Springbot Exchange allows for lookalike audience matching, and using our Audience Expander feature, retailers send drip email campaigns to prospects to grow audience. What is so critical about this new innovation is that it brings a capability that has been available for enterprise businesses with significant technology and team resources to the SMB segment, and levels the eCommerce playing field.
Beyond our latest innovation, I am also excited about the growth and development of the Springbot team. With 100+ employees, we are fostering, investing and collaborating with the next generation of entrepreneurs who will continue to contribute to the Atlanta technology economy.
After an active 2017 for investment in US venture-backed companies, momentum in capital deployed con nued in the first quarter of 2018 while the pace of companies receiving capital continued to decelerate. A total of 1,683 venture-backed companies raised $28.2 billion in funding during 1Q 2018, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of more than $20 billion deployed to venture-backed companies and the highest amount of capital deployed in a single quarter since at least 2006.
Our Forté Ventures team believes in data-driven decisions. We look for every data point that we can find on new companies when having investment discussions, we constantly press our portfolio companies on financials and growth metrics in Board meetings, and we look for trends in macroeconomic and industry-level statistics to drive our investment hypotheses.