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European VC fundraising on pace for lowest total since 2015

It was a rough start to the year for technology investments. European VC fundraising is on track for the lowest annual total since 2015, according to a new report.

Investigate through PitchBooka financial data company, found that European venture capital funds raised more than €20 billion over the past four years – but only €3.4 billion in the first quarter of 2023. The total value of the VC deal fell 32% quarter on quarter (QoQ) to €11.8 billion. The number of deals, meanwhile, fell by 19%.

Pitchbook called the quarter “the first substantial decline” from the pace of the past four years.

“The VC ecosystem may finally be showing the effects of challenging fundraising conditions,” the study authors wrote. “Capital investment in startups has slowed, and if muted exit markets persist, returns will be stifled and long-term capital obligations could be hurt.”

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The analysts found that exit activity had also fallen sharply. Amid adverse macroeconomic conditions and weaker valuations, significant venture capital exits stalled in the first quarter. Pitchbook expects activity to remain calm in the coming quarters.

In the first quarter, the preferred route to exit was through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Four of the top five exits in the quarter were through M&A. Such exits tend to be smaller, but they offer more security and synergies – which can be crucial for startups facing economic uncertainty.

Public quotes, meanwhile, have lost their appeal due to the dangers of turbulent markets. According to Pitchbook, they are unlikely to pick up until inflation cools, rate hikes stop and business confidence returns.

In the first quarter of 2023, European VC exit activity deteriorated, with only €1.6 billion in exit value, reflecting a 69.6% quarter-on-quarter decline