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Venture Capitalists Grow More Cautious About New Startups

April 15, 2016, 5:04 PM UTC
Illustration by Goran Factory for Fortune

Venture capitalists may be getting more picky about which startups they choose to fund amid a slight cooling in the tech industry.

In the first three months of 2016, investors threw $12.1 billion into new deals, according to a new MoneyTree report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. That’s lower than the $13.7 billion investors spent in the first quarter of last year.

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Tim Ciccoella, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers says the investments suggest the venture capitalists are shifting to more late-stage financing and funding more mature startups, instead of shelling out money to brand-new companies. First-time investments fell from an average $6.9 million in the last three months of 2015 to $5.7 million in the first quarter.

The slowdown comes amid a cooling of the tech industry after years of explosive growth. A number of startups have laid off staff, shut down, or sold at firesale prices because of a tougher funding environment.

The bulk of new investment cash so far this year went to funding software businesses (39%), with investors spending more money on fewer individual deals. The shift comes just as initial public offerings in tech grind to a near halt.

Is Unicorn Status A Distraction For Companies?

While it’s still hard to know for sure this early in the year how 2016 will compare to the virtual spending spree of 2015, it’s worth noting that massive billion-dollar funding rounds by the likes of Uber and Lyft can also throw a quarterly numbers game out of whack in a hurry.

Still, the amount of money going to early stage startups remains high when compared with historical trends. Although funding of new companies fell in the first quarter this year compared with the same period in 2015, it was still higher than every other year since 2001, MoneyTree reports.