It’s the age of the mega fund

It’s the age of the mega fund

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Good morning, Term Sheet readers. Finance reporter Anne Sraders here, filling in for Lucinda. 

VC fundraising just booked a new record: U.S. VC funds raised a total of $69.1 billion so far in 2020, beating the high set in 2018 of $67.8 billion, according to PitchBook

And we have Andreessen Horowitz to thank for that. The firm closed two massive funds on Friday: one $1.3 billion fund for early-stage consumer and fintech companies, and another $3.2 billion fund focused on later-stage investments. (Mega funds over $1 billion like a16z’s made up a record 15{fd6aea7e6a2888742764af34ead608f2c3373b57bd8a17fe1f4135b900e329d6} of all U.S. VC funds raised this year as of September.)

Part of the funding frenzy owes to the “move from on-premise to cloud, from laptops to mobile—all of these big, big mega trends are now starting to hit their stride,” Bain Capital Ventures partner Enrique Salem tells Term Sheet. 

To be sure, venture dollars have long flowed into fintech, consumer tech, and educational technology. But those trends have been “pulled forward” during the pandemic, says Manhattan Venture Partners’ head of research Santosh Rao. (Think SoftBank’s recent investments in edtech companies like Kahoot.) And with lots of IPOs in the pipeline, Rao believes LPs and GPs are eager to recycle that cash into these growing companies. 

But fewer funds are also chasing more money. Per PitchBook, while the fundraising totals are getting bigger, the number of funds are getting smaller: So far this year, just 287 funds set the 2020 total, versus 589 funds in 2018. Meanwhile, funding rounds are swelling, even early-stage ones, Bain’s Salem points out.

“The trend is toward mega funds, the huge funds, so the small funds are just kind of getting squeezed out,” Rao says. 

And that’s where I wonder: Are VCs going to have to raise bigger and bigger funds to compete? “The huge ones are probably getting better terms,” Rao says. That doesn’t mean small funds are dying off, but with many companies staying private longer, “startups prefer big funds, big VCs, so they have some guarantee of flow,” he says. “It just means it’s very selective.”

As for investor appetite for startups, Salem believes we’re in for another year of healthy VC fundraising in 2021: “There’s more demand than I’ve ever seen.” 

SPEAKING OF ANDREESSEN HOROWITZ… Payment processing fintech Stripe, backed by a16z among other big firms, is reportedly in early-stage talks to raise another big round of funding that could boost its valuation to an eye-popping $100 billion, Bloomberg reports (no word on whether a16z is involved). Stripe was most recently valued at $36 billion after an extended Series G round in April, but at $100 billion, it would be the most valuable venture-backed U.S. startup, per CB Insights. 

HOUSEKEEPING: Term Sheet is off for Thursday and Friday, and Lucinda will be back on Monday. Until then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Anne Sraders
Twitter: @AnneSraders
Email: [email protected]

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