While the three largest venture capital deals of the year in the technology industry went to consumer-focused startups, most of the other top investments went to companies building products that could reshape the enterprise IT landscape.
Final numbers for the amount of venture capital money poured into startups in 2014 have not yet been tallied, but already experts say 2014 is going to blow away such investments in at least each of the last five years. Through September, $33 billion had already been invested in the technology industry in 2014, which means investments made nine months into the year had already eclipsed the $30 billion in total handed out in 2013.
A variety of factors have led to the big year for VC investments, says Mark McCaffrey, the global software industry lead at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which tracks VC deals. â€śThere was a lot of money sitting on the sidelines,â€ť he says. But with the macro domestic economy rebounding, VCs and private equity firms finally are pouring money back into startups, he says.
2014 funding: $1.4 billion
Investors: Google Ventures, Summit Partners, Menlo Venture and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, among others.
Profile: The app that is upending the transportation industry is also one of the hottest VC-backed companies in the world. San Francisco-based Uber started as a mobile app service in 2009 that connects people who need a ride with drivers, but founders Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp have big plans for the company to evolve into a much broader delivery service. The companyâ€™s $1.4 billion funding round and $2.7 billion total funding will help the company not only expand its services, but its international reach too.
2014 funding: $280M
Investors: Access BridgeGap Ventures, Alibaba Capital Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Mayfield Fund
Profile: Mountain View, Calif.-based Tango offers a mobile app that allows users to make free video and voice calls across Android and iOS devices over WiFi. Tango landed a $280 million funding round in March, with $215 million coming from Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and another $65 million from existing investors. The 5-year old companyâ€™s total VC funding is now $367 million. Tango says it already has 200 million users and boasts the 12th most downloaded Android app.
2014 funding: $250 million
Investors: Andreessen Horowitz, K9 Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Floodgate, Melo7 Tech Partner, GSV Capital, among others.
Profile: Lyft is similar to Uber, but meant to offer a peer-to-peer ride sharing experience, connecting drivers who are going someplace to users who are willing to pay for a ride. The service has basically turned into an Uber competitor though, with screened drivers now part of the service as well. It has raised a total of $332.5 million, according to CrunchBase, including its most recent $250 million round in April.
4) Palantir Technologies
2014 funding: $165.1 million
Investor: The Founders Fund
Profile: The companyâ€™s software helps collect and analyze data from a variety of sources to make it readily available for consumption. In total, the Palo Alto-based company has raised $950 million in 14 funding rounds from 10 investors (including Peter Thiel) since being founded in 2004. It boasts the CIA and other government agencies as name clients.
2014 funding: $160M
Investors: Google Ventures, MSD Capital (Michael Dellâ€™s backed venture fund)
Profile: Cloudera is commercializing the open source Apache Hadoop data management project. Former engineers from Yahoo, Google and Facebook, along with an Oracle executive, founded the Palo Alto-based company in 2008. It has secured $1.2 billion across eight funding rounds in the hot-growing market of big data analytics. Hortonworks, which is one of Clouderaâ€™s biggest competitors, has raised $248 million and launched its initial public offering in December.
2014 funding: $158.1M
Investors: TGP Growth, Bessemer Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, among others
Profile: One of the best known cloud file sharing and content collaboration companies, Box has raised $564.1M from 22 investors across 12 rounds. Czar/CEO and Co-founder Aaron Levie is one of the more outspoken Silicon Valley executives. Rumors surfaced in March that the company was exploring an IPO, but Bloomberg reports that was delayed until 2015.