Boston VC vs. New York VC: It’s not even close

December 15, 2010, 1:42 AM UTC

Boston has long led New York in most things venture capital, and is showing no signs of letting up.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Boston vs. New York rivalry’s southern faction. First, Tom Brady smacked the f’ing snack out of Rex Ryan’s mouth. Then the Red Sox got their men, while Brian Cashman just got Cliff Lee’s voicemail. Oh, and Paul Pierce thinks that most Celtics/Knicks games play out like Globetrotters/Generals.

In the spirit of piling on, let me remind everyone that Boston’s venture capital market is still far more vibrant than New York’s venture capital market.*

Yeah, I know you’ve read differently. Some Boston-based VCs might even have told you differently. But that’s all a load of bull.

Here are some hard numbers from the first three quarters of 2010, from Thomson Reuters and the NVCA:

  • Venture capitalists funded 38% more Massachusetts-based companies than New York-based companies.
  • Venture capitalists invested 125% more dollars in Massachusetts based companies than in New York-based companies.
  • Twenty Massachusetts-based VC firms raised nearly $2.2 billion in new fund capital, compared to 11 New York-based firms raising just over $1 billion.
  • Each state has seen just two VC-backed IPOs in 2010, but the Massachusetts pair raised more money.
  • 38 Massachusetts-based companies with VC backing were acquired, for a disclosed value of $1.49 billion. New York had just 15 M&A exits, with a disclosed value of $172.5 million.

Is there a relevant metric I’m missing? In fact, the only place I see this domination questioned is in a Factiva search of “New York” and “venture capital” compared to “Boston” and “venture capital” (the former wins by a margin of 2,053 to 682).

Look, I understand the fascination with New York venture capital. First, most of the people writing about finance are based there, and to them it feels fresh. Second, much of the New York investment focus is on digital media and other consumer-oriented companies, while Boston’s strengths are biotech and hard sciences like robotics. Finally, a few of Boston’s most prolific bloggers seem to have tabs with the Accela meal car.

The reality, however, is that Boston has long led New York in most things venture capital, and is showing virtually no quantitative signs of letting up. Moreover, I’d argue that the recent relocation of several Route 128 firms into Kendall Square is reflective of an entrepreneurial renaissance at MIT (and, to a lesser extent, Harvard).

But don’t worry New York. You still have a better park…

* Full disclosure: Dan Primack was born in the Bronx, but he makes his home just outside of Boston. Plus, he was wearing a Bruins sweater when he wrote this.