Q4’23 global VC deals volume drops to level not seen since Q3’16

KPMG Private Enterprise's Venture Pulse report finds VC investment continues to fall in Q4 2023.

KPMG Private Enterprise's Venture Pulse report finds VC investment continues to fall in Q4

  • Q4’23 global VC deals volume (7,572) drops to level not seen since Q3’16
  • VC investment in Americas relatively steady at $40.1 billion in Q4’23
  • VC investment drops to $13.8 billion in Europe and $18.8 billion in Asia-Pacific during Q4’23

Global VC investment sank from $531.4 billion across 51,894 deals in 2022 to $344 billion across 37,808 deals in 2023 amidst a thematic backdrop of geopolitical, macro-economic, and other challenges, including conflicts in the Ukraine and Middle East, high interest rates and inflation, a parched exit environment, and ongoing concerns related to startup valuations. The Americas accounted for more than half of VC investment this year ($183.6 billion), while the Asia-Pacific region attracted $92.4 billion and Europe $62.3 billion, according to the Q4’23 edition of KPMG Private Enterprise’s Venture Pulse  – a quarterly report highlighting VC investment trends globally and in key regions around the world.

Q4’23 was a particularly soft quarter for the VC market, with global investment falling to $74.9 billion across 7,572 deals—the lowest levels since Q2’19 and Q3’16 respectively. Europe experienced the sharpest decline in funding—from $18 billion in Q3’23 to $13.8 billion in Q4’23. The Asia-Pacific region also saw quite a slump, with investment falling to $18.8 billion in Q4’23—the lowest level since Q1’17.

As VC investors globally continued to pressure their portfolio companies to reduce costs and enhance their focus on profitability, both VC investment and deal speed slowed significantly. The one major light in an otherwise dim quarter was artificial intelligence (AI) space—where investments were incredibly frothy as investor interest accelerated. During the quarter, AI-focused startups accounted for three of the $1 billion+ funding rounds this quarter, including a $2 billion raise by Anthropic, a $1.7 billion raise by Metropolis, and a $1 billion raise by Relativity—all in the US.

Despite hopes that the exits of UK-based Arm and US-based Instacart and Klaviyo in Q3’23 would help open the IPO door, results were mixed and global exit value dropped from $85.8 billion to $43.5 billion quarter over quarter. 

2023—Key Highlights

  • Global VC investment fell from $531.4 billion in 2022 to $344 billion in 2023—the lowest level since 2019.
  • Global deal volume dropped to a five year low of 37,808 in 2023.
  • Global Corporate Venture Capital-participating investment was $172.4 billion in 2023, down from $269.6 billion in 2022.
  • CVC-participating investment dropped in all regions in 2023, with the Americas accounting for $96.7 billion, the Asia-Pacific region accounting for $44 billion, and Europe accounting for $28.2 billion.
  • Global exit value dropped from $320.6 billion to $224.7 billion year-over-year.
  • The median deal size dropped for Series B, C, and D+ deals in every region between 2022 and 2023; D+ deals saw the largest decline, including from $106.8 million to $60 million in the Americas, from $130 million to $59.4 million in Europe, and from $48.6 million to $29.9 million in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Unicorn VC deal flow dropped to a six-year low of $84.5 billion in 2023, down from $139.8 billion in 2022—and a far cry from the record $269.2 billion seen in 2021.

Q4’23 highlights

  • Global investment fell from $85.4 billion across 8,919 deals in Q4’23 to $74.9 billion across 7,572 deals in Q4.
  • The Americas accounted for $40.1 billion in VC investment in Q4’23, down only slightly from Q2’23’s $42.9 billion; the US accounted for $37.5 billion of the America’s Q4’23 investment.
  • VC investment in Europe dropped from $18 billion in Q3’23 to $13.8 billion in Q4’23, while the Asia-Pacific region saw VC investment fall from $23.6 billion to $18.8 billion in Q4’23 over the same timeframe—the lowest level since Q1’17.
  • Global CVC-participating investment dropped from $44.2 billion in Q3’23 to $33.4 billion in Q4’23.

AI the big winner in Q4’23

VC investment in AI continued to accelerate in Q4’23, with three companies in the US attracting $1 billion deals (Anthropic - $2 billion, Metropolis - $1.7 billion, Relativity - $1 billion). In the US, AI-focused companies attracted six of the ten largest VC deals of the quarter. Europe also saw three very large AI deals (Germany-based Aleph Alpha - $486.1 million, France-based Mistral AI - $434 million, Israel-based AI21 Labs - $208 million). In the Asia-Pacific region, AI-focused Biren Technology also raised $280 million during Q4’23.

Subdued start expected for global VC market in Q1’24

Given high interest rates, ongoing global conflicts, and little sign that the IPO market will reopen fully in the first half of 2024, VC investment globally will likely remain quite subdued in Q1’24. AI will likely remain one of the most attractive areas of VC investment well into the year, while M&A activity could see some pick-up as opportunistic buyers look for bargains. 

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Francois Chadwick

AI will likely remain the biggest ticket for VC investment in Q1’24, driven by its widespread applicability across sectors.

It’s far and away the most attractive area of investment at the moment, followed by energy and cleantech. Although there will eventually be a shakeout in AI investment as VC investors begin to understand the companies that are really transformative leaders in the space.

Francois Chadwick
Partner, KPMG in the US

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