Tessa Griffin December 08, 2013
You may primarily know Benchmark Capital as a major backer of unicorn companies Twitter, Uber, Zillow, eBay and Instagram, but its portfolio is jam-packed with notable investments. In fact, an analysis using data from the PitchBook Platform shows that of the 17 early stage deals in 2013 that Benchmark contributed to, the median pre-money valuation was $60 million. This is pretty significant, considering the median pre-money valuation for all early-stage VC deals was somewhere between $9 million and $25 million (as included in our 4Q 2013 VC Valuations & Trends Report).
This past week alone, Benchmark closed its eighth flagship fund, the $425 million Benchmark Capital Partners VIII, and participated in a $50 million round of funding for its Seattle-based star portfolio company, Glassdoor.
@Benchmark has funded 33 venture capital deals so far in 2013, so the 17 early stage deals account for about 51%. Despite its mission statement to “be the first venture investor in technology companies that seek to create new markets,” only four deals were first rounds of funding (Swifto, Fantex, Quip, Cyanogen). A quick reminder: Benchmark wasn’t involved in the first rounds for Twitter or Instagram, proving that successfully jumping in early doesn’t necessarily mean you have to jump in first. The datagraphic below highlights Benchmark’s 2013 deal activity and a brief history of the firm’s flagship-fund series closures.
Unsurprisingly, 70% of the California-based firm’s investments in 2013 have been in California-based startups. While Benchmark briefly gave overseas markets, in particular Israel, a focus, its concentration is again on its traditional landscape—U.S.-based software startups (primarily in California and the West Coast). Venture partner Rich Barton helps to pipeline valuable Washington State deals that also fit into the firm’s investment thesis, such as Seattle-basedZillow. Breaking down companies by PitchBook’s primary industry codes, most of Benchmark’s deals deals were in the social/platform software space (such as Glassdoor, Trover). Application software (Optimizely) and communication software (Snapchat) tied for the second-most invested-in industry.
One of the buzz pieces from Benchmark’s Fund VIII filing was the absence of firm co-founders Kevin Harvey and Bruce Dunlevie from the list of executive partners. There’s no doubt that both are far from the most involved Benchmark partners (Peter Fenton leads with 14 board seats), and data seem to confirm suspicions that these founders are beginning to minimize their active roles in the firm. Harvey and Dunlevie acted as lead partners for a combined total of five deals so far this year.
Fortunately, with already-iconic venture partners like Bill Gurley, Matt Cohler and Peter Fenton driving the firm’s continued success, Benchmark will continue to be a big player in the venture world and continue its reputation for impressive exits. PitchBook Data will, of course, be there to track the progress, compiling all deals, exits, valuations, funds and other important VC data points. Be sure to sign up for our venture capital newsletter to keep up with Benchmark and other venture firm activity.