7 min read

2020 in Review: Resilience, Strength, Empathy

In the unpredictable and often chaotic year that was 2020, we as a community collectively navigated the ups and downs and unequivocally decided to keep pushing forward.

Christine Tsai

Founding Partner and CEO

Published

17.12.20

In the unpredictable and often chaotic year that was 2020, we as a community collectively navigated the ups and downs and unequivocally decided to keep pushing forward. Whether it was transitioning our firm and all of our programs to fully-virtual for the first-time, looking at companies through our new ESG lens, or creating programs to better meet the needs of tomorrow, 500 persevered and adapted to our new normal in hopes of creating a better global startup ecosystem for the future. 

Going into 2021, we know that the world is eager to usher in new hope. While acknowledging and giving respect to the lives lost and social discourse that has taken place over the last twelve months, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to the entire 500 team, our investors, our founders, and the greater 500 community for their strength, resilience, and empathy they showcased throughout it all. Here are just a few of the many things our team was able to overcome and accomplish in 2020. 

 

Expanding the 500 Community – Virtually

During a time where founders needed us most, we were proud to continue to invest in some of the world’s most promising founders and bring over 100 new startups into our portfolio this year. Here are a few of the highlights. 

500 Portfolio Highlights

  • Pitchbook ranked 500 Startups as the #1 global venture capital firm in terms of the number of exits for 2019.
  • Talkdesk secured a $143 million Series C bringing the valuation to more than $3B. 
  • Canva raised $60M at a $6B valuation. 
  • Credit Karma, was acquired by Intuit in Intuit’s biggest-ever acquisition to-date, and one of the biggest in the category of privately-held fintech companies.
  • BacklotCars announced that it was acquired by KAR Auction Services.
  • We increased the number of unicorns in our portfolio to 23.
  • We added more than 15 centaurs to our portfolio, bringing our year-end total to 108. 

Building Global Startup Ecosystems

While borders closed and stay at home orders were put in place, our world in many ways became even more connected. Throughout our collective experience, we found ourselves and our community coming together in new ways and supporting each other across the globe. 

One of the biggest ways this developed for the 500 community is through our investor slack space: 500vc. After transitioning founder programs and Demo Days virtual from our flagship accelerator to our Miami Growth Program to the 500Kobe Accelerator and more, we were able to build a community of investors to network, share deal flow, and insights on best practices in this new era of sourcing deals virtually. 

We were also proud to be an active part in all aspects of the startup ecosystem across the world. This included partnering with corporations and governments to run 12 additional startup programs including: 

  • 500Georgia, the nation’s first international accelerator program in partnership with the Bank of Georgia and Georgia’s Innovation and Technology agency 
  • 500Kobe Batch 5, the first 500 accelerator focused on COVID-19 emerging technologies

Recommitting to Diverse Founders

While we have always prided ourselves in investing in diverse founders globally, the social discourse this year prompted us to reevaluate our processes and culture further. The frank conversations we had with our team led to the production of our Black Founders Hub and Female Founders Hub, an internal diversity committee dedicated to regularly reviewing internal practices, metrics, and partnerships, as well as, a continuation of programs like our VC Unlocked Scholarships for investors from underrepresented backgrounds to join our early-stage investor education programs

1

Moving Forward

Going into next year, we are excited to continue to work towards our mission of uplifting people and economies globally through entrepreneurship. We will continue to invest in talented founders around the world, offer our flagship accelerator program virtually and iterate on all of our programs for investors and founders as countries embark on their own reopening strategies.

As I mentioned earlier, this year has been tough on every aspect of our global society. From our resilient founders to our team at 500 to the community of frontline healthcare professionals keeping us safe, thank you to everyone who continued to push forward in this otherwise hard year. 

We look forward to building a better, more inclusive global entrepreneurial ecosystem in 2021! 

 

References

1.This data is based on internal analysis of portfolio company data aggregated across all investment funds within the 500 Startups group (“PortCos”) and takes into account portfolio companies with the presence of at least one Black or Latinx or Female cofounder in the company. Such determination with respect to company founder is based on (i) a voluntary survey of PortCo founders/management teams which received responses from 72.5% of the founders polled and (ii) independent research conducted on the public records relating to PortCo founders/management teams by representatives of 500 Startups. The founder responses and the research data have not been verified and the accuracy or completeness thereof is not guaranteed. Valuation figures reflect aggregated pre-money valuation data as available in 500 Startups’ internal records which data has not been verified and may require updates. Figures on funding raised are based on relevant Pitchbook data, which has not been verified. In all cases fundraise and valuation information is as of September 30, 2020 and past performance may not guarantee any continued or future returns, This data is provided for educational or informational purposes only, does not constitute any solicitation or marketing content, and should not be relied upon by any person (i) in making a decision whether to invest in, or engage in business with, 500 Startups and (ii) as legal, tax or investment advice. Further details on methodology and assumptions can be obtained from the 500 Startups Data

500 Startups programs (including accelerator programs), investor education services, strategic partnership consulting services and events are operated by 500 Startups Incubator, L.L.C. (together with its affiliates, “500 Startups”) and the funds advised by 500 Startups Management Company, L.L.C. do not participate in any revenue generated by these activities. Such programs and services are provided for educational and informational purposes only and under no circumstances should any content provided as part of any such programs, services or events be construed as investment, legal, tax or accounting advice by 500 startups or any of its affiliates.

The views expressed here are those of the individual 500 Startups personnel, or other individuals quoted. Certain information contained herein may have been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by 500 Startups. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, 500 Startups has not independently verified such information and makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy of the information in this post or its appropriateness for a given situation. In addition, this content may include third-party advertisements or links; 500 Startups has not reviewed such advertisements and does not endorse any advertising content contained therein.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation, offer to sell or solicitation to purchase any investment securities, or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by 500 Startups. (An offering to invest in an 500 Startups fund will be made only by the private placement memorandum, subscription agreement, and other relevant documentation of any such fund and should be read in their entirety.) Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by 500 Startups, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. 

Charts and graphs provided herein are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Unless otherwise expressly stated, figures are based on internal estimates and have not been independently verified. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. All logos and trademarks of third parties referenced herein are the logos and trademarks of their respective owners and any inclusion of such trademarks or logos does not imply or constitute any approval, endorsement or sponsorship of 500 Startups by such owners. 

Please see Section 2 of our Terms of Use for additional important information.

Christine Tsai

Founding Partner and CEO

Christine Tsai is the CEO and Founding Partner of 500 Global. Since the firm’s inception in 2010, she has led the growth of 500 to over $1.8B in AUM, 2,500+ portfolio companies, and a vibrant community of founders spanning 77 countries. The 500 global portfolio includes companies such as Talkdesk, Canva, Grab, Bukalapak, Lucidchart, Intercom, Gitlab, Credit Karma (acq’d by Intuit), Twilio (TWLO), TheRealReal (REAL), and SendGrid (SEND). Christine has spent her entire professional career building and investing in Silicon Valley. From 2003 to 2010, Christine held product marketing and operating roles at Google, including monetization and developer products such as Google AdSense, Google Analytics, YouTube APIs and syndication, and Google Developer Platform Tools. Christine holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

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