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L.A. Seed Funding Falls Sharply in First Quarter

While venture capital investment in L.A. startups rose slightly in the first quarter of 2017, seed-stage investments went in the other direction.

Seed funding fell 43.8 percent to $51.6 million in the first quarter compared to the first quarter in 2016, according to a report by accelerator Amplify.LA of Venice. In contrast, overall venture capital investment in L.A. companies rose 4 percent to $590 million versus the first quarter of 2016, according to data released this month by Dow Jones Venture Source.

It’s not clear what’s causing the conflicting funding trends, but there could be several possible explanations, said Connor Sundberg, investments intern with Amplify.LA, who helped put the report together.

“It could have just been people taking a turn to quality over quantity,” he said. “You have all these deals making these extremely high valuations, but (venture capitalists) haven’t exited so these companies have money tied up in them.”

A slowdown in early-stage funding could mean a reduction in later-stage funding in quarters to come as the number of investment opportunities in the pipeline shrink, but the problem would likely be short lived, said Eric Pakravan, senior associate with Amplify.LA.

“In the last four months or so, you’ve seen a number of new $25 million to $75 million seed funds that could lead rounds,” he said. “Once those guys actually start writing checks, we should see seed funds rise.”

For example, Bam Venture Partners of Playa Vista started raising a second $30 million seed fund in December and Fika Ventures of Sawtelle announced that it raised a $40 million seed fund in February.

The time seed investors set aside to raise investment funds, could have taken away from their time financing startups, which is another explanation for the slowdown, Pakravan said.

“Raising a fund is a lot of work, so it tends to tie things up for a bit,” he said.

Technology reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at greim@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @garrettreim for the latest in L.A. tech news.

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