The venture capital ecosystem remained relatively robust in the Pacific Northwest in 2015, with investors sinking $1.5 billion in 165 deals last year.
That was about on par with the $1.53 billion invested in the region in 2014, a year which saw a total of 147 deals, according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Both 2014 and 2015 were standout years for venture investing, signaling a bullishness for up-and-coming startups. By comparison, in 2012 and 2013, just over $1 billion was raised by startup companies in the region.
But are those glory days coming to an end?
There are some signals, including a number of prominent venture capitalists and industry leaders predicting that the venture funding market could slump significantly. Just today, San Francisco-based Jawbone raised $165 million in venture funding, a down round that saw the hardware maker’s valuation drop by about half to $1.5 billion, according to Re/code. That followed a significant “down round” for Foursquare on Thursday.
Valuations are weakening amongst some of the high-profile “unicorns,” those privately-held companies that commanded $1 billion valuations or more.
“I think you’d be crazy not to be worried about the frothiness in the market,” said Greg Gottesman, a venture partner at Madrona Venture Group and co-founder of Pioneer Square Labs, speaking at the GeekWire Summit last October.
Nationally, venture capitalists invested $58.8 billion in the U.S. in 2015, the second highest total in the past 20 years.
In the fourth quarter, things slowed substantially in the U.S. as investors pumped $11.3 billion into 962 deals, a decline of 32 percent in dollars and a drop of 16 percent in deals when compared to the same period in 2014.
In Washington state during the fourth quarter investment levels dropped 57 percent, from $389 million to $165 million. Redmond-based Endogastric Solutions, a medical device maker, scored the biggest round of the fourth quarter when it raised $50 million.
Even so, most of the deals in the region were completed at the earliest stages. There were 22 deals in the early stages with over $106 million raised.
Though some industry watchers are worried that things the startup market is overheating, others still think things are headed in the right direction.
“With almost $60 billion deployed to startup companies in 2015, the venture capital ecosystem is strong and healthy, and committed to helping entrepreneurs get their breakthrough ideas off the ground and into the marketplace,” said Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association, in a release.