New York City’s enterprise tech startups could be heading for a superheated exit wave

They raised a record $6.7 billion in H1 2021

We lied when we said that The Exchange was done covering 2021 venture capital performance. Yesterday, we dug into preliminary Q3 data for the Chinese startup market. This morning, we’re looking back at just what startups in New York City managed in the first half of the year.

Some startups, at least. We paged through a report from New York City-based Work-Bench, a venture capital group focused on enterprise technology. The firm ran the numbers on Q1 and Q2 venture performance in their target market. What emerged from the data is a startup market busy accelerating its ability to raise capital, mint unicorns and, increasingly, generate outsized exits.

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Gone are the days when the New York startup ecosystem, perennially in Silicon Valley’s shadow, was more hype than substance. (In recent news, Work-Bench recently raised a new $100 million fund.)

There’s a lot to chat through, so we got Work-Bench partner Jonathan Lehr — one half of a founding pair that includes Jessica Lin — to answer our questions. Let’s explore just how large the New York City venture capital market has grown, where the funds are flowing in enterprise-startup terms, and discuss the pace at which the city is minting new unicorns — can it find enough exits for so many $1 billion startups?

That final question is one that we have about essentially every startup hub in the world. Perhaps New York City will provide a blueprint for how to think about an ever-larger unicorn stable that seems to have a wider entrance than exit.

A venture bonanza

At a state level, New York had a huge start to 2021. As with many startup ecosystems, there was far more venture capital activity in the state during the first half of 2021 than in the same period of 2020.

CB Insights data paints a clear picture: In the first half of 2020, New York-based startups raised $7.6 billion across 667 rounds. In the first half of 2021, however, those numbers swelled to $22.4 billion from 847 deals.

Enterprise venture funding saw similar gains. Per the Work-Bench report, enterprise startups in New York City raised $6.7 billion in the first and second quarters of this year, up 146% from the first half of 2020, when $2.7 billion was raised. Even more notable, Work-Bench reports that venture funding of enterprise startups in its city was up 12x in H1 2021 compared to a full-year 2014 tally.

In a nutshell, the figures detail the rise of New York’s key startup market in the last decade.