Funding for female founders falls to 2017 levels as pandemic shakes up the VC market

So much for progress.

New data out this week from PitchBook indicates that the number of rounds raised by female-founded and co-founded companies fell year-over-year, with dollars invested in those rounds collapsing to 2017-era levels.


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It’s a disappointing quarter that comes after a few years in which female founders saw an increase in the amount of capital they were able to raise. In 2016, PitchBook data shows quarterly results for female founders totaling around 100 to 125 rounds, and between $300 and $400 million in value. By 2019, those figures rose to 150 to 200 rounds per quarter, worth between $700 million and $950 million.

To see Q3 2020 manage just 136 rounds worth just $434 million is a sharp disappointment.

The depressing results come not during a time of sharply lower aggregate venture capital results, notably. Recent data concerning Q3 2020 compiled by PwC indicates that the quarter was relatively rich. Certainly, overall deal volume in the United States is down slightly compared to year-ago periods, but female founders fared worse.

In short, a fear that well-known seed investor Charles Hudson discussed with TechCrunch during an Extra Crunch Live session back in April has come true. Let’s talk about it.

A diversity downturn?

Cards on the table, I think it’s better when venture capital is more diversely distributed. Why? Because when there’s more general access to funds, we’ll see a more varied set of products built to attack a more diverse set of issues and problems. Even more, venture capital can be a pathway to financial success for founders and employees, so investing it in all sorts of folks instead of one particular demographic set can spread the wealth around more equitably.

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