7 min read

500 Startups: 2018 by the Numbers

Christine Tsai

Founding Partner and CEO



2018 was a busy year for 500. I’m proud of what our team has accomplished over the past 365 days and am excited to share some of our 2018 highlights.

500’s mission is to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems. It has been inspiring to see this mission in full force as we work with incredible founders around the world.  

2018 By The Numbers1

  • We added 155 new companies to the 500 portfolio, bringing our total portfolio count to 2,210 companies and over 5,000 founders.
  • 7 of our portfolio companies joined the Unicorn Club in addition to our existing unicorns Twilio, SendGrid, and Credit Karma – bringing our total to 10. Half of these companies hail from outside the U.S. and include Grab and Canva. In addition to these 10 companies, 66 of our companies are valued at over $100M.
  • We ended the year with $454 million in total committed capital across our funds. Notably, 500 Vietnam recently held their final oversubscribed close and 500 TukTuks II held their initial close.
  • 26% of our investments are led by at least one female founder. 49% of our overall portfolio hails from outside the U.S.
  • We’ve been investing globally since 2010, but the world is a big place. After 2018, the number of countries we’ve invested is now 74, which means we’ve invested in almost 40% of the world.

Discovering and Backing The World’s Most Talented Entrepreneurs / Helping Them Create Successful Companies At Scale

Since our inaugural batch in 2011, the Seed Accelerator Program has evolved significantly, now specializing in vertical tracks like FinTech, Digital Health, Blockchain, and Retail & Commerce. In 2018, we launched Batch 23 and Batch 24 in our San Francisco HQ. These cohorts exemplified our global outlook of investing in talented, diverse founders from around the world. 50% of the companies in Batch 23 were based outside of the U.S., including founders from Turkey, China, Canada, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Lebanon. In Batch 24 (ongoing as we speak), 40% of the companies have a female founder and 50% have a minority founder.

We also saw past accelerator investments reach significant milestones in 2018. Notably, uBiome (Batch 7) closed a $83M Series C, Mayvenn (Batch 6) closed a $23M Series B, Chewse (Batch 5) closed a $19M Series B, and Talkdesk (Batch 3) closed a $100M Series B.

Our Thematic Funds had a busy 2018 shaking things up across the globe. 500 Vietnam exceeded its target and closed $14M for local startups on an intended raise of $10M. The Vietnam team also announced the opening of the Saola Accelerator Program, coming soon to Ho Chi Minh City. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the year began with 500 Durians company Bukalapak becoming 500’s first new Unicorn of 2018, and the year ended with fellow Durians Unicorn Grab raising over $2.7B in their Series H, led by Toyota & Hyundai. Finally, 500 Falcons completed their second MENA Series A program in the spring, and Mexico City-based 500 Luchadores debuted their 9th batch of companies.

The 500 portfolio also saw quite a bit of M&A activity in 2018. Twilio acquired fellow 500 company, SendGrid, while Knotel and 42Floors joined forces. 2018 also saw the acquisition of Hinge by Match.com, and GlamSt (Batch 13) was acquired by beauty powerhouse Ulta. Finally, Autodesk announced plans to acquire PlanGrid for $875M.

Building Thriving Global Ecosystems

Investing in markets around the world, especially where there’s a gap between founders and early stage capital, has a huge impact on building ecosystems. Yet we also feel passionate about bridging the capital, mentorship, and educational gap for founders and have been actively working with partners around the world to foster further ecosystem development. We saw great growth in this part of our mission in 20182:

  • We launched international programs in JapanPortugal, and Miami, mentoring and coaching close to 200 companies.
  • We ran investor education programs with Stanford Center for Professional Development and UC Berkeley School of Law. To date, these programs have educated 350 investors from 60 countries.
  • We held our 6th annual investor conference, PreMoney, with over 500+ attendees and 62 speakers, including Ann Miura-Ko of Floodgate, Hans Tung of GGV Capital, Peter Wagner of Wing VC, and Renata Quintini of Lux. 39% of our speakers were women, and 44% of our speakers were minorities.  
  • To complement inclusion as one of 500’s core values, we held a successful Unity + Inclusion summit in NYC which saw 300+ attendees and 40+ speakers including Meg Columbia-Walsh of StartOut and Lorine Pendleton of Pipeline Angels.

Looking Into The Future

It’s amazing how quickly 2018 flew by. As I reflect upon the past year, I feel incredibly grateful to serve this team and this audacious mission of 500. With 2019 now underway, I’m more excited than ever about the year to come and where we’ll be in twelve months time.

The 500 of the future is just getting started.

Onward and upward!

Christine Tsai, CEO


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  1 Approximated as at 1/1/19 based on internal data across the entire family of 500 Startups investment funds and has not been independently verified.

  2 Approximated as at 1/1/19 based on internal data and has not been independently verified.

Note: This blog post is intended solely to provide information regarding 500 Startups. The information provided above, including information regarding current and historical portfolio investments by funds advised by 500 Startups, is not intended as a recommendation to purchase, sell or hold any security or that you pursue any investment style or strategy. Under no circumstances is any content or information contained in this post intended as, nor should you construe it as legal, tax, accounting, investment or other advice from 500 Startups. The past performance on any investment, investment style or strategy is not a guarantee of future results, and it should not be assumed that results for any portfolio companies listed above will be achieved for other investments. The portfolio companies identified and discussed in this post may not represent all of the portfolio investments of funds advised by 500 Startups.  

Under no circumstances should any information or content in this post, be considered as an offer to sell or solicitation of interest to purchase any securities advised by 500 Startups or any of its affiliates or representatives. Further, no content or information contained in this post is or is intended as an offer to provide any investment advisory service or financial advice by 500 Startups. Under no circumstances should anything herein be construed as fund marketing materials by prospective investors considering an investment into any 500 Startups investment fund. The information provided herein is based on internal estimates as of the date indicated and has not been independently verified. While 500 Startups has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the information contained in this post is accurate and up-to-date, no liability can be accepted for any error or omissions.

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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