Jan 5, 2022 - Business

2021: Big year for Chicago tech

Google sign outside building.

Google Chicago Headquarters in Fulton Market. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Chicago tech startups set records for funding in 2021.

Why it matters: The Chicago tech scene is one of the biggest contributors to Chicago's economy and has helped develop tech startups like Groupon and Peapod.

  • But with big investors like J.B. Pritzker now in Springfield and big boosters like Rahm Emanuel now in Japan, you would expect the scene to lose some steam.

By the numbers: Through the first three quarters of 2021 alone, Chicago tech raised over $5.5 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2020. 2021 saw the most venture funding since they started tracking those statistics 15 years ago.

  • Chicago has 12 unicorns valued over $1 billion.

What they're saying: "A record year for fundraising was no surprise," Peter Christman from Chicago Ventures tells Axios. "The question is no longer whether venture-scale companies can be built off the coasts, but rather how big they can get."

Three startups making waves:

📦 ShipBob: The logistics and shipping company is a unicorn that works with 5,500+ ecommerce businesses.

🙏 Hallow: The Catholic religious app used for prayer and meditation raised $40 million in November led by Drive Capital with participation from Peter Thiel, Scott Malpass and others.

💵 EarlyBird: A business that sets up investment accounts for kids, it raised $4 million in its initial seed round from high profile investors, including Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that Hallow’s most recent funding round was led by Drive Capital and other investors, not Andreessen Horowitz.


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