The year in VC, Part 2: Top VC deals in 2020 for South Florida – and more

By Nancy Dahlberg

Not only was 2020 a strong year for South Florida venture capital investment, as I reported Wednesday, but the year marked by the devastating pandemic also capped off a third breakout year for the region.

I am still compiling my report for 2020, but I can tell you this much: In 2020, startups and later state venture backed companies based in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area pulled in more than $2.2 billion in venture capital, ending a three-year run that saw the region’s companies pull in about $6.5 billion. Not bad for a Rise of the Rest metro area.

To be sure, $1.3 billion dollars in mega-rounds for Reef Technology, Magic Leap and ShipMonk have an outsized impact on South Florida’s emerging venture ecoystem. Indeed, in recent years by deal count, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area often lags many of its metro area peers in the top 10. Also, South Florida's near record-funding in 2020 is still less than 1.5% of the total U.S. venture capital pie. Just three metro areas -- Silicon Valley, New York and Boston -- pull in most of the U.S. venture capital.

With the quarterly Venture Monitor report from Pitchbook and the National Venture Capital Association being released today, I’ll highlight some of the findings. But first, here are top deals in 2020, according to my initial research combing Pitchbook, Crunchbase and CB Insights, with the caveat that data often lags.

2020 Top VC deals in South Florida:

REEF Technology (Q4): later stage, prop tech and smart cities, Miami: $700 million

Magic Leap (Q2): later stage, AR/VR, Plantation, $350 million

ShipMonk (Q4): private equity, logistics tech, Fort Lauderdale: $290 million

MDLive (Q3): later stage, telehealth, Miramar: $75 million (includes $25 million in debt financing raised at the same time).

Neocis (Q4): later stage, medical devices, Miami, $72 million

OrthoSensor (Q4): later stage, medical devices, Dania Beach, $52 million (this month OrthoSensor announced it was acquired by Stryker)

Lean Staffing Solutions (Q4), later stage, HR tech, Coral Springs: $43 million

PlanHub (Q4):  proptech, West Palm Beach, $41 million

PayCargo (Q3): later stage, logistics technology, Miami: $35 million

Ubicquia (Q3): later stage, smart city tech, Fort Lauderdale, $30 million (tie)

Bolt Mobility: Series A, micro-mobility, Miami Beach, $30 million  (tie)

As for top deals for Q4 in South Florida, the previously mentioned Reef Technology, ShipMonk, Lean Staffing, PlanHub, Neocis and OrthoSensor are the top 7. Rounding out the top 10, according to Pitchbook data, are Phybio Therapeutics, a health-tech company that raised $11 million, coding education player Ironhack, raising $10 million, and  BlazePod, a consumer product company raising $9 million.

For all of 2020, there were two exits in South Florida, according to Pitchbook. That would be  Ascyrus Medical of Boca Raton, a therapeutics device company that was acquired by Atlanta-based public company CryoLife in a $200 million deal in Q3, and a $32 million exit by healthcare software company CareCloud in Q1.

Here are a few national highlights from the Q4 2020 Venture Monitor report released Thursday:

  • Nationally, overall, despite the pandemic, “2020 posted record investment into high-growth startups, record capital raised by VC funds and the second highest year for VC-backed exits.” Using Pitchbook’s methodology, the Venture Monitor researchers found that investors pumped $156.2 billion into startups in 2020. 
  • So called mega-deals ($100 million and up), for which South Florida had three in 2020, also reached record levels nationally for deal count (321) and value ($70.9 billion). For perspective, in 2011 just 46 mega-deals closed.
  • Nationally, Series A fundings fell by both deal counts and dollar value (down 10.7% and 11.4% respectively), This is a trend South Florida also experienced.
  • While late-stage companies dominated the list of top deals in South Florida, the trend also bears out nationally. Late-stage companies account for 28.8% of the total VC deal count and 66.7% of value in 2020.
  • More feasible alternatives to going public spiked in 2020; for example, SPAC vehicles quintupled compared to 2019.
  • At the sector level nationally, biotech, pharma and health-tech showed strength, rapidly shifting to the challenges of the pandemic, including ramping up telehealth. The year also saw the acceleration of massive consumer adoption of e-commerce and the shift to the distributed workforce model.

“On the heels of several years of high fund-raising levels, the venture industry will start 2021 with $152 billion in dry powder. While uncertainty remains in the new year, the vast sum puts the industry in a strong position to deploy healthy levels of capital into promising startups,” the Venture Monitor authors said.

Download the Venture Monitor report here.

Later this quarter, I’ll be diving into the South Florida data for the upcoming eMerge Americas Insights report once again, and I will be looking more deeply into South Florida’s venture capital deals in 2020 and sharing trends in sectors, stages of growth, exits and more for both the tri-county area and the state as a whole. Stay tuned!

READ MORE in Part 1: Despite pandemic, 2020 a very healthy year for South Florida venture capital

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

Nancy Dahlberg
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