There’s no shortage of pessimism in the VC world today. After a surge in valuations and exits in the first half of 2021, we have seen substantial declines across the board. Deal flow and exit values are down significantly, while global VC funding collapsed from almost $48 billion to $21 billion between April 2022 and April 2023. Despite these headwinds, there are plenty of opportunities in VC – from the AI revolution to remarkable innovations in climate tech, cybersecurity, and other fields – and we couldn’t be more excited for the future.
Telstra Ventures has experienced dramatic investment and revenue growth, and our platform is purpose-built to continue scaling in the years to come. We have always been hyper-focused on data science and revenue generation, and these priorities give us powerful competitive advantages. The ability to discover promising companies through robust data science and relationship-building at the seed stage will help us fill the top of the funnel, while data-driven decision making will secure excellent returns over the long term.
While we’re mindful of the economic obstacles confronting our partners and our industry, this is no time for retrenchment. Our platform and investment theses have proven their resilience over the past decade, and we expect to build on these resources in the years to come.
As we enter our eleventh year, we’re thrilled at how far we’ve come. We have reached 90 investments with $1 billion in assets under management. Our investments in data science have paid off, as they drastically reduce the amount of guesswork in the decision-making process and help us identify the early-stage companies that have real growth prospects and disruptive potential.
We expect to be on our way toward doubling our investments within the next five years and generating hundreds of millions more in revenue for our portfolio companies. Many VC firms struggle to facilitate consistent revenue generation among their companies, but we have made this a core strategic focus. Data doesn’t just help us identify the best companies as early as possible – it also facilitates growth by generating market insights, tracking and evaluating performance, and identifying unique business opportunities.
These opportunities abound in dynamic, high-growth fields like AI, cybersecurity, climate tech, cloud, and SaaS. It’s particularly rewarding that many of our portfolio companies are focused on problems that the world desperately needs to solve. All the issues VCs face today are manageable, and the market pullback presents a wide range of opportunities for firms that are well-positioned to seize them.
The era of analog investing is quickly coming to a close. When VCs make investment decisions, they need to account for a vast array of variables: robust leadership, product quality, market and economic conditions, technological change, revenue forecasts, competition, and so on. VCs also have to track the performance of their portfolio companies, drive to best in class financial benchmarks and KPIs, identify new markets and areas of growth, suggest talent to scale, and mitigate risk. All these goals are increasingly dependent on reliable and comprehensive data collection and analysis.
These are the reasons we’ve built our business around data science. Our proprietary data platform gives us a major competitive edge in sourcing and portfolio management. The emergence of powerful and versatile technology like AI will make data-driven investing even more effective – from identifying investments to conducting due diligence to writing investment papers to generating market insight. Over the past five years, we’ve discovered that companies sourced with data science outperform their peers. And once these companies become part of our portfolio, we use data to discover sales introductions and revenuess, find the right hires, improve operations, and identify opportunities for revenue growth.
Data science will only become more integral to VC in the coming years, particularly as AI makes data platforms more powerful and accessible. Early adopters like Telstra Ventures have a first-mover advantage, as we have been refining our approach to data science for many years – an approach that no other firm can replicate, as we have developed it in-house.
Although VCs are navigating difficult economic terrain, there are clear signs that deal volume, fundraising, etc. are stabilizing. In the first half of the year, U.S. funding increased by 10 percent, and this figure excludes the OpenAI and Stripe deals. Speaking of AI, it has proven to be a massive catalyst for investment – and rightfully so. After ChatGPT was launched in November 2022, it only took two months to reach 100 million monthly active users, which made it the fastest-growing consumer application of all time.
These are reminders that VCs should not focus on the negatives when there are so many exceptional opportunities on the investment horizon. We’re certainly not discouraged. In fact, our investment pipeline has more new opportunities now that it has had in the last 20 months. Our investments in data science will continue to give us a critical competitive advantage in sourcing, qualifying and financial benchmarking. Our investment strategy has proven to be highly scalable, and we could not be happier with our growth trajectory.
The stress tests over the past year haven’t dented our optimism. Our central investment theses in rapidly emerging fields like AI, climate change tech, and cybersecurity are becoming more encouraging by the day, and the performance of our portfolio companies demonstrates that these industries will continue to see extraordinary growth.