Up is down. Black is white. Wrong is right. Angel investments apparently equate to $30 million. Oh, and throw in $30 million seed rounds for good measure.

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A plethora of eight-figure rounds at the earliest stages this year has caught the eye. The companies raising the funds include Romeo Power, Indian insurance technology company Acko and autonomous vehicle startup JingChi, which recently announced a $30 million angel round—on top of a $100 million Series A reportedly in the works.

On first glance, this might seem insane. Seed and angel investments are traditionally smaller and used to get a company up and running with market research, product development and hiring. Yet one possible explanation for the increase could be the different shape of companies receiving seed investments and who the money comes from.

For instance, Romeo Power's $30 million seed round saw funding come from the company founders and past shareholders in CEO Mike Patterson's companies. Romeo Power itself is stacked with Tesla, SpaceX and Samsung vets, and it boasts about 190 employees—not exactly a garage band outfit.

To take a deeper look at this weird world where angel investments in 2017 can be bigger than Series D-plus rounds in 2012, we examined the evolution of global VC funding since 2012.

Still on the rise

Deal sizes have increased across the board since 2012, with the median Series D financing up two and half times in that timeframe. Other stages have undergone similar levels of growth, though median Series C rounds are projected to decline slightly from last year.

Median global VC deal size (M) by round type

VC Deal

There was less fluctuation when grouping rounds more broadly into early and late stages, however, with steady increases over the last five years (barring a stall in late-stage VC in 2016). The median value of late-stage rounds now stands at nearly twice what it was in 2012, while early-stage rounds have more than doubled.

Median global VC deal size (M) by stage

VC Deal

However, deal numbers have not followed the upward trend of funding sizes over the same time period. After an initial uptick, they've fallen recently, particularly at the earliest stages, according to the PitchBook Platform.

In one sense, the fall in deal numbers coinciding with the rise in median value makes sense—as does the adjustment between 2015 and 2016 from a situation where both volume and value were, unsustainably, rising.

Yet as fewer VC deals are being done and their individual value rises, the question has to be whether this is the new normal—bigger bets on fewer deals—and whether in five years, $30 million seed rounds will seem quaint.

Check out our recent look at growing VC investments in Europe. PitchBook subscribers can view the full dataset on venture capital activity since 2012.

Article by Sean Lightbown, PitchBook

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