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3 views: The new decentralized venture landscape is changing how we report startup data

December 11, 2021

Where is Silicon Valley, really?

In 2021, it’s no longer a Bay Area hub backed by Sand Hill Road investors — it’s everywhere. The decentralization of capital to emerging ecosystems has done more than empower local entrepreneurs to raise that follow-on round, it’s also changed our work as journalists.

After Mary Ann published an exclusive look at how fundraising is moving beyond Silicon Valley, we decided to unpack our views on the trend’s long-term impact. Mary Ann followed up her reporting with a few thoughts about how the rise of startup hubs across America is hardly new and certainly nothing to be afraid of. Natasha and Alex dug into data-focused reporting, a key plank of the startup journalism game that is evolving as the market matures. What can we say, the Equity team can’t stop talking! 

Natasha: Funding data doesn’t matter the way it used to.
Mary Ann: The decentralization of startups isn’t new, even if it is accelerating.
Alex: The declining impact of aggregated startup funding data is good news.

Natasha: Funding data doesn’t matter the way it used to

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, in a world of fast-moving deals and the end of HQs, startup geography data has never mattered less.

Now that you’re paying attention, I’m going to slightly hedge that and say that this somewhat controversial mindset doesn’t include emerging markets. For the longest time, startup data helped us understand how an entrepreneurial scene was growing. The concentration of capital in late-stage deals, for example, would show that the winners are winning but perhaps at the cost of smaller upstarts. A thriving angel scene would let us know that pre-seed startups are going to enjoy a boost of activation energy.

But what happens when the bounds of traditional geography goes away? You can be a startup based in Boston, but where do the concentration of your employees live? Where do your investors live? You may have answers, but maybe they will only be correct for the month.

Digital nomads aside, my point is that distributed work’s popularization clouds a little bit of our classic “local startup” news coverage. Detroit’s scene may be booming, but thanks to a nod from Miami and a wire from Boston. I think this means that our data needs to focus more on networks than ever before, understanding — at an aggregate level — how a startup’s success has a ripple effect across other communities. In other words, Duolingo’s public debut may have benefitted Pittsburgh’s local startup scene, but what if the company’s growth will now only look international? That’s a hypothetical, but I think we’ll need to ask deeper questions of funding data and ground-level wins.

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