Top investors predict what’s ahead for Boston’s VC scene in Q1

'The financing market has frozen up as solid as the Charles River in February'

Before the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the world and reshaped the economy, Boston was quietly setting records.

According to new venture data compiled by TechCrunch, the region set what was at least a local maximum in venture capital raised in the space of a single quarter in Q1 2020.

But while Boston’s startup market announced a number of huge rounds that bolstered its total venture dollars raised in the first quarter, there were signs of weakness: Deal volume was its best since Q2 2019, according to a set of data compiled and released by PwC and CB Insights, but was still a little under the pace set in 2018.

So Boston’s startups raised lots of money, but couldn’t match prior highs when it came to the number of checks written. And those results were largely recorded before COVID-19 shuttered the city. Since then, we’ve seen a number of area startups lay off staff, something we explored last week.

Now, with fresh data in hand, we can take a closer look at the city’s first quarter of 2020. To better understand what we’re unpacking, we asked a number of local venture capitalists to weigh in. Let’s look back at Boston’s Q1 as we stride into Q2 with the help of Venture Lane, .406 Ventures, Volition Capital and Flybridge Capital Partners.

The data

Starting with a programming note is counter-flow, but bear with us. TechCrunch is starting a regular, monthly series on Boston and its startup market. This is a second prelude of sorts. Normally we’d hold news and interviews for a later date so that we’d have plenty of material for a column. In the face of relentless change, however, we didn’t want to hold off on reporting and synthesizing new information. When things are more normal, our pace will follow.

Per PwC and CB Insights, here’s the last few quarters of data, along with a few yearly totals to draw you the picture we can now see: