We are still breathing the fresh air of winter in VC, with investments in pre-seed and seed totaling 6.9bn$ in Q1 20231, down by 14% vs. the last quarter of 2022. Europe is following the same trend, slipping on an icy -25% vs. the previous quarter.
In this harsh Q1, where financing is still freezing for early stage, 3 verticals were particularly strong in attracting investments:
- Video & AI, absolutely a long-term trend: creation, analytics, and monetization.
- Fintech, it has been the quarter of vertical SaaS.
- Gaming, people will keep on playing, big time. But gaming is switching form simple entertainment to a social experience, often with a web3 community-based economy.
Also, as society changes and life becomes more virtual, new type of social interactions will arise. This is the case of Slay, in Germany, a new social network leveraging on young generations’ need to get social feedback.
Video & AI
Generative AI is unlocking new opportunities for video content, here’s my favourite examples:
- Tavus (US) is a video personalization platform with the power to record your voice and face once and transform it into countless AI-generated videos, adapted to each customer and use case (sales, product demo, onboarding, hello scalability ! ).
- Alison (Israel) is an AI-powered platform for video analysis. It can capture creative elements within a video and turn it into measurable data. User can get recommendations on which element will work best for a given audience. If we think that live shopping and video campaigns will dominate the market, such tools will make the new era of A/B Tasting.
- Zarta (US) is a micro-pay-per-view video platform for creators. In a world divided between free content and ads on one side, and subscriptions on the other, Zarta is the new way. How does it work? Creators upload their videos; viewers can watch a portion of it for free and then pay a couple of pennies to keep on watching. No more ads, no more subscriptions.
It has been a great quarter for vertical SaaS. In fact, some sub-sectors of Fintech are so deep, such as payments for example, that can easily host verticalized play, such as:
- Beam (US), in the B2B construction space, makes the life of contractors easier by speeding up contract workflow, invoicing and payment.
- Thatch (US), B2B health fintech, helps startups give better healthcare experience to their teams, thanks to a dedicated credit card and personal dashboards.
In the B2B lending space, ModernFi (US), is also taking position into a very specific vertical: in the huge and often forgotten interbank market. ModernFI connects banks with excess deposits to banks that need funding to provide liquidity and revenue opportunities.
Also, just to remember that e-commerce infra is not dead, Spade (Canada), a B2B API that enriches transaction data, with merchant, category, and geolocation details, has raised with a16z.
It’s on fire and world’s best VC, like Accel, 16z, Bitkraft, are investing in it with deep pockets. On the infra side, let’s recall:
- Kratos (India): Kratos is the IP owner of the world’s largest gaming DAO – IndiGG. Kratos is also an active investor in the global web3 gaming and gaming infra space.
- Latent Technology (UK) is building a generative physical animation technology for virtual world and Snapser (US), customizable backend for gaming studios.
On the game side:
- CCP Games (Iceland) is an independent developer of massively multiplayer games (MMO). CPP is also the developer of Eve Online, a game launched in the early 2000s, that is now switching to web3.
- Seidr (Sweden) is a collective of Swedish gaming veterans dedicated to crafting the next generation of intense multiplayer experiences for PC and console.
- Azra Games (US), a blockchain-based developer of collectible and combat games.
That’s all from my souvenir book, stay tuned for next quarter! If you want to discuss these trends or are building an interesting B2B, Fintech, or Cleantech startup, drop me a message 😊
1: Crunchbase, Global VC Funding Falls Dramatically Across All Stages In Rocky Q1, Despite Massive OpenAI And Stripe Deals