Data show 2021 was a bonkers, record-setting year for venture capital

Hey look all the charts are up and to the right

Venture capitalists went hard in 2021.

Data collected from a number of sources indicates that last year set venture capital records around the world. From dollars invested to deal volume, sectors and geographies posted their strongest performance and excelled on essentially every continent.

Today’s startup boom, from a venture capital perspective, is a wide-ranging and incredibly expensive enterprise.

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With a history of venture capital activity setting records in recent years, you may not feel like last year was all too special. It was. The total value of capital disbursed, and the pace at which those funds were put to work, is different than prior years and preceding eras.

The good news from that fact is that we’re seeing venture capital tallies rise across more markets than we did in previous startup boom cycles. This means that more founders in more places are raising capital, even if traditional hot spots like Silicon Valley and the larger U.S. market retain much of their historical heft.

Next week, The Exchange will dig into sectors, trends and particular regions of the world. Today, we’re talking big, high-level numbers and just how much busier last year was for the venture set. With data from CB Insights, Crunchbase News and a first look from PitchBook regarding a coming data set, we have plenty of numbers to parse.

So take a walk with us through what could be the most insane and busy year we’ll ever see for venture capitalists. (Unless, of course, 2022 manages to out-crazy last year. Don’t write off that possibility entirely; we’re off to a busy start.)

A record year ‘round the world

The top-line figures are astounding.

CB Insights reports that venture investment reached $621 billion in 2021, up 111% from 2020 levels. Recall that 2020 was effectively tied with 2018 as the largest year for global venture investment — until 2021 came and took its crown.