2022 In Review: 24,000+ Reasons

Adam French
Houghton Street Ventures
6 min readDec 29, 2022


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

As December draws to a close and we reflect on the year that has passed, it’s hard to ignore how different everything feels versus when I sat down this time last year to write our first blog post looking back at, what was and still remains, a record 2021 for venture capital funding.

Having spent the last week or so with family, watching classic films and sharing stories of the year gone by, I cannot help but think about the tale to be told of the LSE entrepreneurial ecosystem and its individual founders.

In many ways, it feels like the struggles of start-ups and investors in today’s market are reminiscent of the economic turmoil depicted in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Just like the characters in the novel grappled with the tumultuous effects of the French Revolution, today’s start-ups and investors have had to navigate a volatile market marked by uncertainty and change.

However, as we peek into the data, we recognise that not all hope is lost. It serves as a reminder to consider the individual stories of those around us, including the LSE entrepreneurs and innovators who continue to build and require funding and support.

A year ago, we were tracking a little over 23,000 founders in our database; this number continues to grow — not just those founders who have recently graduated (600 from the class of 2022) but hundreds more who have chosen to leave secure jobs after years of gaining relevant expertise to build something themselves. Houghton Street Ventures exists to invest in and support these founders.

Number of equity investment rounds announced by LSE entrepreneurs

Much has already been written about the change in the venture capital landscape in comparison to the record 2021, and it is safe to say that the LSE ecosystem has not been immune to these changes — 2022 equity funding rounds are back in line with levels previously seen in 2016 (there were 369 equity-only funding rounds announced this year). However, what has changed in that same period, is the size of the rounds.

Total equity capital raised by LSE entrepreneurs (in USD)

In 2016, a little over $1bn was raised in the private markets as equity by LSE founders. As 2022 draws to a close, that number is almost 5x higher, currently standing at $5.4bn. If it wasn’t for the craziness of 2021, that in itself would be a record, although we expect the numbers to normalise back to 2018–2020 levels given the year of “two halves” we have just experienced.

Total equity capital raised by LSE entrepreneurs (in USD), by month

If we zoom into the data and look at the amount of equity capital raised per month — it is clear that the first three months of the year (over $1bn raised in each of January — March 2022) is a stark contrast to the months thereafter (averaging $250m per month and looking much more like the 2018–2020 period).

Total equity capital raised by LSE entrepreneurs (in USD), by size of round

The so-called “mega-round” — equity raises of $100m or more — have fallen off a cliff since Q1 2022. Over $6bn was raised in “mega-rounds” in 2021, from only 30 rounds — those rounds alone contributed more capital raised than any previous or subsequent year in total. In one chart, we have the full arc of the 2020–2022 global venture capital story — from dizzying heights back to reality.

Seed capital raised by LSE entrepreneurs, by region

At Houghton Street Ventures, we invest in LSE entrepreneurs across the globe (with two of our first four investments out of our fund based in Germany and Brazil). Therefore, it is interesting to note that, with a pullback in the venture market as a whole, we are seeing strength persist around the globe, with only North and South America seeing relative funding reductions from 2021 to 2022 — dropping from a dominant 50% share to less than 25%. The difference is taken up across the board with Europe +12%, UK +5%, Sub-Saharan Africa +4% and MENA +4%.

LSE unicorns, minted in 2022

Masked behind all of this data are individual companies and founders. This year we welcomed four new LSE-founded businesses to the unicorn club (private companies with a valuation > $1bn). Insider was our first Turkish unicorn, and it feels extra special to us, as three of its co-founders went to the LSE — placing Turkey as the fourth largest country to produce LSE unicorn founders behind the US, the UK, and Germany.

Major Acquisition

Aside from $1bn+ valuations, there was one major acquisition in the LSE ecosystem in 2022 — Victoria’s Secret purchasing one of New York’s fastest-growing fashion brands and companies, Adore Me, for more than $400m.

As we now look towards the future, it is clear that although the funding environment is much tougher than it was during 2021, there are many reasons to remain positive — great founders will continue to raise capital, and it is still possible to build a huge business, solving real problems, from anywhere in the world.

We launched our fund this year with the thesis to invest in and support LSE founders (a universe of 24,000+ individuals). In keeping with the Dickensian theme, I can’t think of a more fitting end to this post, taking a cue from Ebenezer Scrooge and striving to be more understanding and generous in our support of one another as we head into 2023.

If you are building a business and have a connection with the London School of Economics and Political Science, we would love to speak to you and learn more about your vision for your company.

Learn more about us and submit your pitch at houghtonstreet.com, follow us on LinkedIn or read what others have to say about us at Landscape.vc.



Adam French
Houghton Street Ventures

Partner at Houghton Street Ventures. Backing LSE entrepreneurs.