February 26, 2019

AI investors are spending big money on startups — but fewer want to share

By Lucy Ingham

Despite attracting more investment in 2018 than any other emerging technology, artificial intelligence (AI) startups are seeing fewer AI investors each than any other segment.

This is according to research by GlobalData, which found that more than 1,900 investors funded AI companies in 2018, over 1,000 more than any other technology.

However, the average number of investors per company was just 1.9, compared to 2.1 for connected devices and blockchain, 2.2 for robotics, 2.3 for security and 2.4 for payments.

This meant that in 2018 AI had the lowest investors-to-idea ratio, which is the number of venture capital investors divided by the number of funded companies.

AI investors rule in number, but not in spend

The number of AI investors dramatically outstripped other emerging technologies – being roughly equivalent to security, blockchain and robotics combined.

However, the amount spent per investment was lower than any of the other emerging technology fields, at $17.3m.

This is compared to security (£17.5m), connected devices ($18.1m), blockchain ($18.1m) and robotics ($34.4m). By far the highest for average deal size was payments, at $85.1m.

This indicates that while AI investors spent one of the highest totals in emerging technologies, the market is characterised by large numbers of investments in smaller, earlier stage companies compared to fields such as payments.

This in part reflects both the level of maturity of the AI field, but also the level of hype surrounding the technology in 2018.

However, GlobalData anticipates that investment will continue to grow in the coming years, suggesting that the AI hype is far from over.

“With expanding technology-driven disruption across industries, we expect further growth in disruptive tech companies’ funding in coming years,” said Aurojyoti Bose, financial deals analyst at GlobalData.

“These technologies will play a central role in the companies’ future strategies, with early adopters likely to emerge as winners.”

Verdict deals analysis methodology

This analysis considers only announced and completed deals from the GlobalData financial deals database and excludes all terminated and rumoured deals. Country and industry are defined according to the headquarters and dominant industry of the target firm. The term ‘acquisition’ refers to both completed deals and those in the bidding stage.

GlobalData tracks real-time data concerning all merger and acquisition, private equity/venture capital and asset transaction activity around the world from thousands of company websites and other reliable sources.

More in-depth reports and analysis on all reported deals are available for subscribers to GlobalData’s deals database.

Topics in this article: