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Super Money Moves: Philly’s top investment rounds of 2021, its best year for VC dollars yet

The year has already brought us billions in venture capital and three unicorns.

Spotted in Columbia Heights: goPuff on a bus. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)
Update: Gopuff is reportedly raising another 1.5 billion. Details have been added. (12/16/21, 7:15 p.m.)
Early last year, founders planning on raising venture capital were shaded by uncertainty about how the pandemic would affect startup funding.

After some trepidation in the first two quarters of 2020, VC bounced back. And now, as we close out 2021, Philadelphia has had its best ever year for venture capital. When we checked in midway through the year in July, regional companies had already raised $3 billion. By October, it was $5 billion — and this year’s top three companies all hit unicorn status.

“There is no denying that the startup ecosystem is powering America’s economic comeback,” said NVCA President and CEO Bobby Franklin said in October.

While we won’t know the total numbers for 2021 year until January, we’re already impressed. Let’s take a look at the top 10 biggest VC deals Philly tech saw this year.

P.S. What didn’t make the cut on a technicality? Tendo Systems: The cloud healthcare platform maker raised $69 million this year, but in two deals, across a Series A in March and a Series B in June.

10. MOBILion Systems

The Chadds Ford-based medtech company raised a $60 million Series C in July, led by D1 Capital Partners with the remaining funds contributed by aMoon, Agilent Technologies, IP Group, Hostplus and Cultivation Capital.

“We are excited by the validation of MOBIE’s capabilities to streamline protein characterization workflows,” CEO Melissa Sherman said in a statement, about the company’s first commercial product. “However, we are only scratching the surface of opportunity as we are commercializing a platform technology that provides unprecedented simplicity, speed and resolution to separate and identify even the most challenging clinically significant molecules that other instruments fail to detect. Working with a premier investor like D1 positions us well to drive continued progress in biopharma and advance growth initiatives to provide deeper insights with the reliability, speed and efficiency our customers seek.”

9. Mainfactor

The team behind the new and quickly growing ecommerce company recently raised $69 million in a mix of seed equity capital and a credit facility led by Upper90. The company focuses outside of the traditional realm of platform building or B2C services, instead acquiring the companies doing such work. It helps those businesses — which might be too small to gain attention or traction on their own when competing with the likes of Amazon — grow through digital marketing and influencing, sometimes bringing on their team members to the company.

8. Crossbeam

In November, the company raised $76 million led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from existing investors Redpoint VenturesFirstMark CapitalFirst Round Capital and Uncork Capital.

“I think more than anything, we owe this round to the team that we have. It’s easy to have a narrative that this repeat founder has raised another round, but truly I spend a majority of my time finding people to do these jobs way better than I could do,” CEO Bob Moore told then. “And that’s going to continue. We’re hiring a ton, we’re going to try to hire here in Philly. It’s time to really build.”

Crossbeam cofounders Bob Moore (left) and Buck Ryan. (Courtesy photo)

7. Piano

In May, leaders at the B2B company said they have raised an $88 million Series C round of venture funding led by existing investors Updata Partners, the DC firm that was also behind the company’s Series B, with supporting investments from Rittenhouse Ventures and a strategic investment from LinkedIn Corporation. CEO Trevor Kaufman said to expect hiring in Philly following the raise.

6. HealthVerity

The maker of a privacy-minded data marketplace for the pharma and insurance industries raised a $100 million Series D this summer. The round was led by Durable Capital Partners, and aimed to accelerate the growth of its IPGE platform — that’s identity, privacy, governance and exchange. Existing investors Flare Capital PartnersForesite Capital and Greycroft also participated.

To date, the company has raised $143 million, including a $10 million Series B and $25 million Series C in 2017 and 2019, respectively. An IPO is on the table, but not in the near future, a company spokesperson said in July.

5. Phenom

We’ve got eyes on an IPO for this Ambler-based HR tech company, after it acquired three companies and raised a $100 million Series D in the span of less than a year. The Series D was announced in April, and next came a $1.4 billion valuation.

CEO Mahe Bayireddi told that he felt the core of the company’s business — getting a billion people the right job — had perfectly placed them for a new “golden age of HR.”

4. dbt Labs

In its third major investment round since early 2020, dbt Labs — rebranded from Fishtown Analytics earlier this year — announced the closing of its Series C at $150 million in June. The company was then valued at $1.5 billion, CEO Tristan Handy said. The raise was designed to allow the team to speed the development of dbt, its open source, SQL-based data analytics tool that has a robust community surrounding it.

dbt Labs CEO Tristan Handy. (Courtesy photo)

3. WatchBox

Bala Cynwyd-based ecommerce company WatchBox, an online and mobile platform for buying and selling luxury, pre-owned watches, announced in November that it had raised $165 million of equity capital to scale its digital platform and expand into new markets.

The lead investors include The Radcliff CompaniesThe Spruce House Partnership and CMIA Capital Partners. Previous investors include Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and the founders of Warby Parker and Allbirds.

2. Misfits Market

The “ugly” produce and grocery delivery company had two major raises this year, landing it in the region’s second top spot. In April, it raised $200 million to accelerate pandemic-fueled growth, and only a few months later, it raised a $225 million round — which the company is called its C-1 raise.

That round was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, with participation from repeat investor Accel. The raise puts Misfits Market at a $2 billion valuation, having raised $526.5 million so far, according to the company.

1. Gopuff

To no one’s surprise, the on-demand delivery company snagged this year’s top spot. In 2021, Gopuff saw $1.15 billion and $1 billion raises, some of — if not the largest — venture capital deals the city’s seen in years. The rounds came from a mix of new and existing investors, and its valuation in July stood somewhere around $15 billion. In Q1 of 2021, the $1.15 billion deal was the country’s second largest of the quarter.

“This funding round is further validation of the success of our model and will enable us to continue to do what we do best: deliver an unmatched customer experience,” cofounder Rafael Ilishayev said this summer.

Update after this story published: Welp, Gopuff is reportedly in the process of raising another 1.5 billion for a $40 billion valuation. As TechCrunch and others have noted, this likely signifies the company is planning to go public in 2022. We’ll report back.


And, a few other recent Money Moves we’ve spotted:

  • Staircase, a mortgage tech startup, raised an $18 million Series A led by Bessemer Venture Partners. The company is distributed, but cofounder and CTO Soofi Safavi is based in Philadelphia.
  • Radnor-based health insurance tech company Belong Health raised $40 million in a Series A, led by global VC firm New Enterprise Associates.
  •  Philanthropi, a philanthropic marketplace and social platform company founded by physician, Lenfest Foundation chair and repeat entrepreneur Keith Leaphart, raised $4 million in seed funding.
  • University of Pennsylvania spinout CareAlign closed a $2.3 million seed extension round in November.

Any big deals we missed? Any bigger ones you spot on the horizon? Let us know:

Companies: Misfits Market / CareAlign / Piano / Gopuff / Crossbeam / dbt Labs / Phenom / HealthVerity

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