U.S. venture capital funding drops in last quarter of 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. venture capital-backed companies raised $23 billion in the last quarter of 2019, down 42.5% from the same period a year ago, according to a report by CB Insights and PWC released on Tuesday.

The report came as concerns about valuation rise, sparked by flops of several high-profile technology IPOs and the meltdown of office-sharing startup WeWork.

Despite the lower funding, startups last year received $108 billion in investments from U.S. venture capital firms, making it the third-biggest year ever, according to the report. Startups received $118 billion in 2018 and a record $119 billion in 2000, the year before the tech bubble burst.

The number of U.S.-based unicorns marked a new record of 199 at the end of 2019, up from 149 at the end of 2018. Unicorns are privately held companies valued at $1 billion or more.

Mega-rounds, deals that are $100 million and bigger, also dropped in the fourth quarter to 38 with a total $7.3 billion raised, from 54 in the fourth quarter of 2018 with a total $25.3 billion raised, according to the report.

Softbank Group Corp (9984.T) participated in four of the five biggest rounds, including an investment in WeWork, which scrapped its IPO in September amid a public shareholder-founder dispute.

The fourth-quarter drop in funding and mega-rounds followed that event.

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