Toasts, roasts and a fond farewell to 2021

Plus: Who will join Europe's unicorn club next?; the adoption of biochemicals; soaring PE growth deals & more
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The Weekend Pitch
December 12, 2021
Presented by Deloitte
(AlexRaths/Getty Images)
Greetings, everybody, and thanks for joining me as we wrap up 2021 in grand holiday fashion.

I'll be your master of ceremonies here, as we call to order PitchBook's year-end venture capital banquet. It's time to put a bow on what has been an extraordinary year of fundraising, dealmaking and a few follies.

I'm Alexander Davis, and this is a holiday edition of The Weekend Pitch. You can reach me at and follow me on Twitter @alecdavis.

Sure, the VC industry has had its share of noteworthy accomplishments in the year 2021. There were massive runups in valuations—I'm looking at you, Stripe. But there were also some head-spinning setbacks, most notably in China-related investments (don't worry, SoftBank folks, we've stocked the bar with you in mind). So without further ado, let's get to it. Hold your applause. And settle down in the back there, you crypto fans; you'll get your chest-beating moment.
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A message from Deloitte
Health tech is set to revolutionize the 2020s
Health tech is on a tear. Already, 2021 has seen close to 560 completed transactions accounting for $23.8 billion in deal value. In the latest edition of Deloitte's Road to Next series, the thriving health tech ecosystem is explored in depth, especially considering its acceleration by the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights include:
  • Analysis of key datasets such as median financing metrics
  • A spotlight on the consumerization of healthcare
  • Insights from experienced health tech Deloitte professionals as to critical growth considerations, regulatory changes and more
Read it now
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Elizabeth Holmes walks through a security checkpoint as she arrives for her trial in San Jose this week. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
"Of course not."

—Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, in response to whether investors lost money as a result of her attempts to mislead them. The defense rested its case this week, and closing arguments are slated to begin Dec. 16.

Deal Flow

Private equity deal activity is the hottest it has been in at least 20 years, driven not only by strong buyout activity—particularly in sectors such as tech and business products and services—but also by an abundance of growth deals.

According to PitchBook's Q4 2021 Quantitative Perspectives report on US PE, growth deals accounted for 12.4% of all PE deal value as of the end of Q3—the most since 2009. This has contributed to more investment in areas like technology and consumer products relative to buyouts.


(steved_np3/Getty Images)
Nothing perhaps illustrates the maturing of Europe's venture capital ecosystem more than the proliferation of its unicorns. In all, 70 startups have reached a $1 billion valuation since January, according to PitchBook data—that's more than the previous four years combined.
  • The trend coincides with a massive uptick in pre-money valuations for late-stage VC deals. As of Dec. 2, the average pre-money valuation was just over $393 million, versus around $110 million last year.

  • The UK has produced the most unicorns in Europe during 2021, with 44, followed by Germany and France, which have 29 and 16, respectively.

  • More European unicorns are expected to be minted in 2022. We put together a list of six startups valued at $500 million-plus that could cross the $1 billion threshold in the new year.

Did you know ...

(Matt Gibson/Getty Images)
… That biochemicals are quietly usurping legacy chemicals in agriculture? Biological products are gaining adoption as a safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly alternative to their synthetic forefathers.

VC-backed startups in the ag biological segment have raised $730.4 million across 13 deals this year as of Sept. 30, according to our recent Emerging Tech Research on agtech. Pivot Bio, which uses microbes to fertilize crops with nitrogen, broke out with a $430 million Series D led by Temasek. Other startups are gaining traction with pheromone-based insecticides and microbial fungicides.

Recommended reads

Nubank co-founder Cristina Junqueira on why the Brazilian neobank's IPO is about more than just raising cash. [Protocol]

All of our food either directly or indirectly comes from photosynthesis. Could a global food crisis be prevented by tinkering with the process? [The New Yorker]

A look at the US "charging deserts" leaving Black and Latino communities behind in the electric vehicle era. [The Washington Post]

As a growing number of young people look for climate-related work, companies are seeing the need to convince potential employees of their green credentials. [Bloomberg]

Meet the VCs having twice the fun in half the time. [Forbes]

Why Montana PE firm Beartooth Group is betting big on ranch land in the West. [Fortune]
This edition of The Weekend Pitch was written by Alexander Davis, Andrew Woodman and James Thorne. It was edited by Andrew Woodman, Angela Sams and Sam Steele.

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