So, I analyzed 140+ VC-backed Blockchain/ Bitcoin companies. This is what I found.

Note: This short analysis is pretty much a work-in-progress as I intend to update it every 4–6 months. Hence, let me know if you spot any discrepancies in the data-set or have new information. All views are mine. Enjoy!

Background:

Most of the reports/analysis on Blockchain focus on “What is Blockchain?” or “Let me show you that Blockchain can save $XXXm+ of cost each year for [enter name of industry]”. It still feels very much like 2014 for Bitcoin, see A16Z and like 2015 for Blockchain, see Goldman Sachs. As of today, people seem to have understood that Blockchain technology is interesting but still unsure about the applicable use cases and timeline.

Working in venture capital, I have come across 140+ Blockchain companies in the last 12 months and I recently wanted to better understand the development of Blockchain/Bitcoin VC-backed companies. Like everyone, I read the awesome Coindesk quarterly report on the state of the Blockchain & Bitcoin landscape which include slides on VC-investment per quarter, largest deal per quarter etc…

Based on the publicly available Coindesk’s dataset (Link), I added several variables in order to get new insights on Blockchain & Bitcoin VC backed companies and see if I could find some interesting insights. Enjoy.

Ps: 1 means Yes and 0 means No in the graph.

Key Findings

  • Financial Investors (FIs) like to invest in big deals ($20m+) and in US-Blockchain & Bitcoin companies: Financial investors (Sell-side, Buy-side) have invested in 22 rounds or equivalent to 15% of the overall rounds of funding. However, FIs invested in eight of the twelve $20m+ funding rounds or equivalent to 67% of the $20m+ funding rounds. Moreover, out of the eight companies with FIs investments, four are Blockchain companies: Blockstream, Chain, Ripple and DAH and four are Bitcoin companies: Bitflyer, BitPay, Blockchain and Coinbase. Interestingly, 50% of companies backed by Financial institutions are based in the US. The rest of the world still has a chance to raise large round of funding :).
  • Bitcoin VC-backed companies come from everywhere; Blockchain VC-backed firms come from the US: Bitcoin VC-backed companies are spread in 25+ countries; whereas Blockchain VC-backed companies are spread in 11 countries but 70% of them are based in the US. I found amazing that Bitcoin companies based in India like Unocoin or Zebpay or based in the Caribbean islands like Bitt were able to raise funding and continue to grow. From talking with different companies, it really seems that Bitcoin can have a huge impact in emerging markets due to multiple reasons such as low credit card penetration, low bank account penetration, high inflation etc…On the other hand, the large concentration of American firms seem to confirm that Blockchain technology is mostly built towards an enterprise use case and; thus, needs to have founders based close to where large B2B companies are (aka West/East coast). Though, this findings is to take with a pinch of salt, I have seen many strong Blockchain UK-based firms but these have yet raised any VC funding…
  • Most of the Blockchain & Bitcoin VC-backed Companies are less than three years old: 41% of Blockchain/Bitcoin VC-backed companies were founded in 2014; 33% were founded in 2013 and 10% were founded in 2015. This confirm the trend of entrepreneurs seeing opportunity in the Bitcoin/Blockchain technology following the price surge in 2013.
  • Blockchain and Bitcoin Companies are still relatively small: 76% of Blockchain and Bitcoin companies in the dataset have less than 50 FTE (Source: LinkedIn). On average, Bitcoin VC-backed companies have c. 21 FTE and Blockchain VC-backed companies have 17 companies. Moreover, 8 of the 11 companies with 50+ FTE are predominantly Bitcoin focused such as Coinbase or 21inc.
  • After the first year, fast-growing companies appear: When you plot Age (X axis) and FTE (Y axis) of both Blockchain and Bitcoin companies, one can start to see which companies growth faster (based on the number of employees as a proxy). Interestingly, it is very hard to see any growth pattern during the first year of a VC-backed companies, however, growth patterns start to emerge from the second year. For example, Abra has 80+ FTE in only 2 years or Ripple with 180 FTE in only 4 years. Of course, the number of employees does not mean that the Company is a definite winner and is very much linked to the amount of VC funding as well as the different business model. Moreover, the LinkedIn data is not perfect for Emerging Market based companies. Nevertheless, it is very interesting to see how fast some companies scale compared to others.
  • VC funding is still nascent and winner takes all the VC money: 29 companies have raised $10m or more. This is equivalent to c. 20% of the entire number of companies from Coindesk dataset. On the other hand, 109 companies have raised less than $5m or equivalent to c. 74%. Moreover, the top 10 VC-backed companies raised 59% of the total VC funding with three companies having raised more than $100m: Circle, 21Inc and Coinbase (All US and Bitcoin focused companies).
  • VCs have yet to see return from their investments.
    Good news, Blockchain/Bitcoin companies have a low bankruptcy rate (so far). Bad news, M&A remains low as the sector is not mature enough:
    21 companies appeared to have gone bankrupt/fire sale. This is equivalent to c. 14% of the total number of VC-backed Blockchain & Bitcoin companies from the Coindesk dataset. Of the 21 bankrupt companies, 13 were founded in 2013 or equivalent to c. 62% of the number of bankrupt companies. When one looks closer, it seems that, 18 of the 21 bankrupt companies were focus on Bitcoin. So far the number of M&A transactions has remained low and seems mostly concentrated within the bitcoin exchange sector where few companies have raised VC-funding. (The number of bankrupt companies come from my desktop search. Let me know if you have any updates on the above companies.)

Methodology:

1. I downloaded the datasheet from Coindesk
2. For the added data, please find below the sources:
$20m+ round: Formula using Coindesk data
Financial Investor: Manual Check of investor from the Coindesk data
Bitcoin: Checked the description of each companies
Founding date: Linkedin
FTE: Linkedin (As of 1st week of July)
Bankrupt: Linkedin (As of 1st week of July) + Press
Age: until 2016
Dataset: Until first week of July
Note: I only kept the last funding round of a company. For example if a company, raised Seed, Series A and B, I just kept the Series B date, Series B funding and cumulative funding.
3. I used Excel and Silk.co for the output