Europe, which has long considered a second-class citizen in comparison to the United States’ startup scene, has been on fire in recent quarters and years. Europe has seen its venture capital totals climb, its unicorn ranks swell, and even a few large public exits, similar to many other startup marketplaces across the world. What is the state of the European startup market this year? Flink raised $750 million this morning, according to, As we previously said, the “Berlin-based business that sells food and other basics at supermarket rates and hopes to deliver them in less than 10 minutes” is now worth $2.85 billion.
In addition, unless you are well versed in the fast-food industry, we doubt you’ve heard of Flink. It is easy to lose sight of Europe’s unicorns given that the startup sector is so large and diverse.
For years, the Exchange has been keeping track of Europe’s startup acceleration. Consider our surprise when Atomico, a European venture fund, and Dealroom, a data-tracking firm with a robust European data collection, released a slew of figures about its performance earlier this week. We have been so preoccupied with our book guides (here and here) that we are only now getting around to the statistics. Therefore, rather than just grabbing high-level figures that portray a broad picture, we are plucking out a few details that you might have missed in your own reading. This is for you if you care about the current health of the European startup market.
We will look at exit volumes and what they mean for 2022, how talent issues are not addressed equally across Europe, why there is good news and bad news for gender diversity in Europe, pension fund money is still sitting on the sidelines, and which groups of former employees are forming the most businesses. The year has been fantastic for European technology mergers and acquisitions. According to the Atomico/Dealroom study, the overall value of IT M&A in Europe has surpassed $100 billion in the third quarter of 2021. For comparison, in Q2 2019, Q3 2019, Q4 2019, and Q2 2020, that sum was less than $10 billion.
However, the venture capital model may not fit every tech exit. Exits of European tech businesses funded by venture capital are a lower number, but one that is steadily increasing. According to the same data set, VC-backed IT M&A totaled $54.9 billion in the first three quarters of 2021.
That is a smidgeon higher than the $54.8 billion forecasts for the entire year 2020. When you include in Q4’s statistics, 2021 will not only be a record year for VC tech exits — this data excludes IPOs, mind you – but it will be a record year by a long shot.
However, that was all in the past. We are more concerned about the future. In addition, it was at this point that the data set raised our brows. The following is what Atomico wrote: The total amount of tech M&A activity in the third quarter alone topped $45 billion, making it the highest third quarter on record. Preliminary data for Q4 suggest at least another $50 billion in total value at the time of writing. If those projections hold true, we might see almost half of the entire European M&A in Q4 2021. As a result of this, and incremental increases from quarter to quarter, Europe is off to the best non-IPO start in history in 2022.