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VC in 2016 Was Hard to Find for Founders and Nerve-Wracking for LPs

With the exception of Jet and Dollar Shave Club’s mega-exits, 2016 was a disappointing year for VCs hoping to cash out, according to PitchBook. The drought comes after 2015’s active year for unicorns going liquid, but it continues the downward trend of the last two years.

Why is this happening? An abundance of late-stage investments may be partly to blame. After VCs invested $90B in 2015, industry experts expected to see a sharp decrease—but VCs still invested $80B, making 2015 and 2016 the biggest years for investments in the last decade. With so much VC available in the private markets, startups have the luxury of waiting longer to IPO or search for an acquirer.

For LPs, this means waiting longer for returns (and, if your GP invested in Uber, probably waiting nervously), but what does it mean for early-stage startups?

According to data from the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, nothing good. There have been fewer deals of all sizes in the last two years, but late-stage VC deals haven’t been declining as quickly as angel/seed rounds and early-stage VC. Essentially, VCs are focusing less on new businesses and more on bigger, late-stage companies more likely to exit huge—but those exits aren’t coming.

In this inhospitable climate, it helps to understand your options. Check out our guide, How to Choose the Best Funding Path for Your Startup, to learn about VC alternatives, and how substituting other funding for a VC roundcan help your company grow.

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