South Florida snagged $2.37 billion in venture capital in 2019, according to the Venture Monitor report released Tuesday. That’s a record and it ranks the metro area No. 7 in the nation. 

By Nancy Dahlberg

For the first year ever, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area is in the big leagues of venture capital, ranking in the top 10 in the country, according to a venture capital report released Tuesday.

The new record is primarily driven by mega-deals: South Florida unicorns Reef Technology, with an estimated $900 million raise from SoftBank and partners completed in March, and spatial computing company Magic Leap, with two rounds totaling $780 million in the second half of the year. Those two companies alone accounted for 71% of South Florida’s 2019  total.

With the unicorns’ help, South Florida snagged $2.37 billion in venture capital across 129 deals in 2019, according to the Pitchbook-NVCA Venture Monitor, jointly produced by PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). By deal value, that’s a record  and it ranks the metro area No. 7 in the nation, behind venture capital behemoths like California’s Bay area, New York Boston, LA, Seattle and San Diego and ahead of Austin, Chicago and Washington DC.

This $2.37 billion easily surpassed 2018’s deal value total of $1.42 billion – but trailed 2018’s number of deals, which was 154. While South Florida is unlikely to repeat the rocketing numbers in 2020 because of the multiple mega-rounds, this Rise of the Rest region has been pulling down steadily bigger deals in recent years, although fewer South Florida companies got funded in 2019 than in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018, according to the data.  

In the fourth quarter, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro ended the year strong with $630.2 million of VC across 34 deals flowing into area companies, largely thanks to a mega deal by Magic Leap, according to the Venture Monitor. That’s compared to $194.9 million in 30 deals in the third quarter and up sharply from $73.5 million (but across 42 deals) in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Q4: WHO GOT FUNDED?

Here are the top-funded companies in the fourth quarter, according to Pitchbook.:

  • Magic Leap: The spatial computing company based in Dania Beach raised $500 million in a Series E round from JP Morgan and others, according to Pitchbook data. Magic Leap has not announced the amount. This follows its $280 million raise in the second quarter, READ MORE.
  • OrthoSensor: The surgical devices company in Dania Beach started by executives from Mako Surgical raised $33.1 million from undisclosed investors.
  • Healthcare.com: The Miami-based InsurTech company raised $18 million in a Series B round from AXIS Capital Group, CNO Financial Group and Second Alpha Partners. READ MORE.
  • Vigilant BioSciences: The Fort Lauderdale based biotech company that makes oncology diagnostics raised $17.26 million of venture funding from Novalis LifeSciences and other undisclosed investors.
  • Next Level Aviation: The Sunrise-based operator of an aviation asset trading firm raised $15 million of venture funding from undisclosed investors.
  • Papa: The elder-tech startup company raised $10 million of Series A funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Initialized Capital, Sound Ventures, Y Combinator and Pivotal Ventures an, ADA Ventures. READ MORE.  
  • Addigy: the Miami-based developer of an IT management platform for the Apple system $9.08 million of venture funding from undisclosed investors.
  • DadeSystems: The later stage financial technology company raised $9 million of Series D venture funding led by Napier Park Financial Partners, with participation from Ocean Azul Partners and Fifth Third Bank.
  • CEEK VR: The Miami Beach-based developer of a virtual reality streaming platform raised $6.45 million of Seed-1 funding from undisclosed investors.
  • ImmunSys: The Fort Lauderdale biotech company focused on oncology raised $5.20 million of angel funding from undisclosed investors.

Of note: Although not tracked by Pitchbook, Arteza, an fast growing e-commerce startup with an arts and crafts brand, announced it raised $24 million from  Volition Capital in the fourth quarter.

Statewide, Florida pulled in $2.89 billion across 261 deals in all of 2019, ranking 6th in the country, behind California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington and Texas, according to Pitchbook’s data. In addition to REEF and Magic Leap, top raisers for the year included Luminar of Orlando, which creates technology for the autonomous vehicle industry, as well as biotech companies Detraxi of Jupiter and TissueTech of Miami. Notably, Pitchbook’s data, which does not include pure private equity deals, did not include a $300 million raise in the first half of the year by KnowBe4, a Clearwater-based cybersecurity training company.

THE NATIONAL PICTURE

Nationally, by the end of 2019, the venture industry deployed $136.5 billion in US-based companies, surpassing the $130 billion-mark for the second consecutive year, according to the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor. That was a slight dip from 2018’s record. Once again, Nearly three-quarters of the venture capital went to companies in the California Bay Area, New York and Boston. Notably, artificial intelligence startups had a record year in 2019.

Last year, Pitchbook began publishing the progress of female-founded companies in venture Monitor.  Although VC activity is still largely a man’s world, nationally, female-founded companies saw record activity on both a capital and count basis.

The data show that just 2.7% of the deal value went to all-female founded teams, although that was up from 2.2% in 2018 and a record. As for the percentage of deals, all-female founded teams drew 6.8% of the deals, up from 6.1% in 2018 and also a record. The picture is brighter for teams with at least one female co-founder: These mixed teams drew 14.2% of the deal value ($) and a record 22.8% of the deals (#).

“Despite uncertainties about the sustainability of the unprecedented activity seen in 2018, this year kept pace and will undoubtedly leave its mark on the venture ecosystem,” said John Gabbert, founder and CEO of PitchBook, in a statement. “In 2019, we saw the highest exit value ever tracked, record capital deployed to female-founded startups and the most late-stage deals ever closed, to name a few. The continued proliferation of nontraditional investors participating in VC and the need for LPs to recycle distributed capital back into new VC funds should keep venture momentum strong heading into 2020.”

Download the Venture Monitor report on NVCA.org.

STAY TUNED for eMerge America’s upcoming Insights report on 2019, in which I will be slicing and dicing the data further, including other research sources, spotlighting some of the funded companies, and looking at the trends locally and regionally. You can download past eMerge  Insights reports here.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Nancy Dahlberg
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