Women-Led Companies Raised Nearly $3B in 2018 — Here’s Why That’s Not Enough

Women-led companies are raising more venture capital than ever, but all-male teams are still enjoying the lion’s share of funding in Silicon Valley.

In 2018, U.S. female founders raised $2.88 billion — almost a billion more than in 2017, but still only 2.2 percent of the total $130 billion invested throughout the year, according to Fortune‘s annual analysis of data from PitchBook and All Raise, an organization dedicated to improving the success of women in venture capital and startups. If 2.2 percent sounds like a familiar figure, that’s because the frequently cited statistic remains unchanged from 2017.

Counting mixed-gender teams, companies with at least one female founder got 12 percent, or $15.76 billion of the total, while 76 percent, or $109.36 billion, went to companies founded by all-male teams.

Of the more than 6,300 VC deals done with male founders in 2018, a select few at the top were worth more than the rest combined: the e-cigarette company Juul, for one, raised $12.8 billion in December, thanks to an investment by Marlboro maker Altria; earlier in the year, electric-car company Faraday Future secured $2 billion from a Chinese holding company, which has since struggled with layoffs and cash-flow problems.

The largest investment in a female-led company, meanwhile, had one fewer zero in it: Minted, the online design marketplace founded by Mariam Naficy, raised $208 million in a December Series E round. Retailers accounted for a significant share of the top female-founded companies by investment, with TheRealReal ($115 million Series G), Pat McGrath Labs ($60 million) and Glossier ($52 million Series C) also cracking the top 10.

Several of the year’s highest-valued female-founded companies are also in the retail space, according to PitchBook, including Rent the Runway, which in March was valued at $770 million, and Moda Operandi, which has raised just over $300 million since it was founded in 2010.

Experts agree that getting more women into venture capital positions is integral to getting more funding for female founders. Per PitchBook, 18.4 percent of investment-level positions at U.S. VC firms are filled by women. Thanks to the efforts of All Raise and others, though, the tides are shifting: Thirty-six women were added to the ranks in 2018.

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