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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Venture capitalists have become much pickier than they once were, are taking longer to invest and are writing bigger checks.

Why it matters: It's harder for startups to raise money, even though investors are flush with cash.

All of the below data comes from PitchBook including some from the Q4 PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitorunless otherwise noted:

Barbell Effect

Today's seed rounds are yesterday's Series A rounds, which have become yesterday's Series B rounds, and so on. This has led to a hollowing out at the earlier stages of investing, as many firms have gone even more amoebic (so-called "pre-seed") while others have gone later.

  • There were only just over 3,793 seed deals in 2017, compared to more than 4,375 the previous year, and 5,680 in 2015.
  • Some seed investors have moved over to the cryptocurrency market, with initial coin offerings raising more than $3.7 billion last year, per Coinschedule.
  • In 2017, the median age for startups raising seed rounds was 2.42 years old—about a year older than in 2008 and half a year older than in 2014. Companies raising Series A and B are seeing similar trends.
  • In 2017, more than 60% of all late-stage capital invested was in deals of $50 million or more—the highest proportion in the last decade.
Bigger deals, longer waits
  • The median U.S. seed deal in 2017 was $1.7 million, up from $1.47 million in 2016, and $1 million in 2015.
  • Median early-stage rounds (Series A and B) in 2017 were $6.0 million, up from $5 million in 2016, and $4.38 million in 2015.
  • The average check size for Series A and Series B investors has increased by 36% over the past decade, while the average number of investors in such rounds has climbed by 40% (as of Q3 2017).
  • In 2017, First Round Capital reports that 34.1% of its portfolio companies took more than four months to raise new funding, up from only 25% in 2016, and 20% in 2015.
Unicorn watch

Later-stage companies continue to stay private longer, aided by continued access to "crossover" investors and an uptick in secondary liquidity deals for early employees and investors.

  • $575 billion worth of unicorn tech startups remained private through the end of Q3 2017.
  • The median time between a startup's first VC funding and its IPO hit 8.1 years in Q3 2017, up from about 6.5 years in 2010.
  • The decline in new VC deals is being outpaced by the decline in exits, whether via IPO or acquisition.
Top-line data

U.S. venture capitalists invested $84 billion into 8,035 companies in 2017, up from $72 billion in 2016 and the highest annual total since the dotcom era.

Go deeper

Behind GameStop's latest stock surge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Back in focus: The meme stock trade.

By the numbers: GameStop finished up 19%, after a wild day that saw shares spike as much as 80%.

AT&T spins off U.S. video business via deal with TPG

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

AT&T is spinning off three of its video services, including its satellite TV brand DirecTV, to create a new standalone video company called New DIRECTV.

Details: The company will be jointly owned by AT&T and private-equity giant TPG. AT&T will retain a 70% stake and TPG will own 30% of the firm.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Ex-USA Gymnastics coach dies by suicide after being charged with human trafficking

John Geddert. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The body of John Geddert was found on Thursday, just hours after the former USA Gymnastics coach was charged with 24 counts of criminal misconduct, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

What they're saying: “My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life. This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved," Nessel said in a statement.