Silicon Valley continues to be the heart of the U.S. venture industry and the global innovation economy, based on several reports on the venture industry and venture-backed startups. But there are signs that Silicon Valley’s hold on its leading role is increasingly tenuous, as more entrepreneurs flee the high costs of the Bay, the U.S. industry shows little sign of being able to adapt to reach innovative women, and other ecosystems around the world rise fast.

Measured in dollars, the story of 2020 in the U.S. venture capital world was a tale of size over quantity. The number of mega-deals over $100 million climbed to 327, accounting for nearly half of the total VC capital invested last year. Of the $164 billion invested in U.S. companies, $76 billion was invested in those deals alone, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

Meanwhile, 103 venture-backed firms issued IPOs, representing $422 billion in exit value.

The U.S. share of global venture investment has held steady around 50% the past five years—51% in 2020—but remains well below the 84% global share in 2004 and 90%+ share in the 1990s,” the association noted.

Valuations are rising fast in 2021, suggested more competition for fewer deals, based on Times of E reporting.

Despite many diversity initiatives, the amount of money going to women founders is actually falling. Solo women raised the smallest portion of VC funding in five years — for the first eight months of 2021 through August, startups with solely female founders raised just 2.2% of all venture funding,  according to Crunchbase. The amount raised by companies founded jointly by men and women has been flat for about five years, at about 12%.

men's hands clasping with money
Only about 2.2% of companies funded in the first part of 2021 were founded by women.

Meanwhile, 2020 saw an usual exodus of people from the Bay area, a study by the California Policy Lab found. Exits in the second through fourth quarters of 2020 were 31% higher than during the same period in 2019, and new entrances were 21% lower, according to the study, which found no evidence of a statewide people drain.

While venture capital looks to be a maturing, if not stagnant, industry in the United States, the global picture for venture-backed startups is far different.

The Startup Genome released its global ecosystem ranking last week. It includes the Top 10:

Silicon Valley

London & New York



Los Angeles

Tel Aviv




Overall, 2021 is shaping out to be a year of “remarkable growth and productivity” for global startup ecosystems. The industries doing the best are tech — especially as COVID-19 pushed nearly every sector into the realm — life sciences — fueled by COVID-19 as well — and CleanTech — as innovators, investors and governments absorb August’s UN climate report, according to the Startup Genome report. 

The pandemic also improved startup policies, according to the report. The European Union has proposed a set of rules to encourage tech startups, Brazil passed a law to make the legal framework more appealing for starting a business and India is funding tech startups through partnerships with accelerators. 

“Around the world, conditions for entrepreneurship are getting better and better,” according to the report. “As digital infrastructures improve, capital flows surge, and skilled virtual workforces rise, founders someday will be able to start and funders to invest almost anywhere. Even now, the choices are legion.”

Investments in China, for instance, rose steadily, reaching more than $37 billion during the first five months of 2021. India has spawned 24 unicorns as of August, the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021 by Startup Genome outlines.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit and connect with and

A business journalist for 20 years, am the founder of Times of Entrepreneurship and the co-author of The New Builders.