Even still, Chicago’s digital tech companies had what seems to be the city's most successful year ever. In total, more than 140 Chicagoland tech companies received funding, collectively raising more than $1.7 billion in capital, funding and debt financing. That number is up 8.6 percent from 2014.
Dollars from exit events also increased in 2015, with about 40 companies exiting in 2015 for more than $8.2 billion — and that’s without a single IPO lending any weight to final totals. Those numbers are also up from the previous year, a 19 percent increase buttressed by high-profile acquisitions like
Numbers like these are a good sign for Chicago tech companies, who tend to offer a bit more substance to investors than their peers on either coast — and often, for less.
"Each year since 2009, Chicago seems to have another ‘best year ever,’” said J.B. Pritzker, managing partner and founder of venture capital investment firm the Pritzker Group. “The Chicago tech scene matured in 2015 with very impressive capital raises and exits, and I expect that will continue in 2016 and beyond.”
Regardless of how 2016 unfolds, it’s safe to say Chicago has cemented itself as a leader in tech, innovation, and talent, and not just in the Midwest.
“There's now a national recognition that Chicago has very fertile ground for technology entrepreneurs, investors and engineers,” Pritzker added.
The highest funded industry in 2015 was marketing, advertising, and social media, with 20 tech companies receiving funding in that vertical. Collectively, they raised about $110 million, led by large turns from both
However, FinTech continued to dominate in terms of sheer dollars raised. Twelve FinTech companies (several of which raised more than one round in 2015) worked to bring in more than $800 million dollars to the industry.
, another personal loan provider, saw a $75 million debt financing round of its own. Meanwhile, companies like
2015 was also a big year for private equity investments, seeing companies like
“2015 was a historic year for kCura,” said kCura CEO Andrew Sieja. “We hit our lofty growth targets and grew our operational footprint by adding 85 new employees and expanding internationally into 40 countries. Most importantly, we continued to work hard for our customers by delivering a great product and service. 2016 will be another memorable year, and we’re excited for what’s to come.”
Chicago’s growing stable of unicorns
Until 2015, only one Chicago-based company could boast a valuation of one billion dollars or more:
Alongside the announcement of their Series E in September, Avant also announced it had officially became the city’s second company to boast the mythical moniker after receiving a valuation of almost $2 billion.
Uptake followed in Avant’s breakneck footsteps, making tremendous strides to become one of Chicago’s most highly-valued startups. Despite having launched in just 2014, Uptake burst onto the national scene with a $45 million round in October, which was enough to earn the data analytics company a billion-dollar valuation and a spot at the summit of Forbes’ hottest startup of the year list.
Following a capital restructuring deal valued at $1.4 billion in November,
Major acquisitions, yesterday and tomorrow
But those are far from the only Chicago tech companies flirting with a billion-dollar valuation. Companies like
These numbers only account for digital tech companies headquartered in Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties. Some local tech juggernauts like Highland Park’s
Infographic is sponsored by Phillips Bros Insurance.