Chicago again ranks as top city for startup investor returns

In a new report from venture capital database Pitchbook, Chicago once again leads the country as the best city for VC investor returns.

Pitchbook, along with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, ChicagoNEXT and P33, announced Thursday that Chicago again leads the U.S. in tech investor ROI. It’s a designation Chicago first earned in 2016 and has held onto in years since, and it’s become a central rallying cry among local tech boosters as evidence of Chicago’s booming startup scene.

The metric is based on “Median Multiple On Invested Capital,” or MOIC. MOIC is calculated as the ratio of exit value to amount of capital raised. From 2006 through September 2020, Chicago startups have given investors a 4.8X return on their investment, which outpaces New York, Seattle and San Francisco, which are second, third and fourth on the list, respectively.

“For the past several years, we shared with investors across the country why Chicago leads as the nation’s best destination for startup investment,” Mark Tebbe, chair of ChicagoNEXT, said in a statement. “And we’ll continue to say: if you’re looking for the best place to deploy your capital, come to Chicago.”

Some of the city’s larger exits include Cleversafe’s acquisition to IBM in 2015 for $1.3 billion, Fieldglass’ acquisition to SAP in 2014 for more than $1 billion and Coyote Logistics’ deal with UPS for $1.8 billion in 2015. More recently, Home Chef was bought by Kroger in 2018 in a deal valued at upwards of $700 million, Etsy acquired Reverb for $275 million in 2019, and Factor75 was acquired by HelloFresh for $277 million earlier this year.

The Pitchbook report also found that, despite the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, Chicago startups have raised $1.6 billion in venture funding through the end of September 2020, which puts the city in earshot of approaching its decade-high 2019 VC funding of $2.2 billion with a quarter to go.

In terms of total VC raised over the last decade, Chicago ranks sixth in the country behind San Francisco, New York, L.A., Boston and Seattle. Local startups have raised $17.8 billion over the last 10 years. The city fares slightly worse in number of VC deals over that timeframe, finishing ninth in the U.S. with 2,580 deals.

The report comes on the heels of the city’s new startup database that aims to help connect investors to some of the city’s promising startups that are looking to raise funding.

“This announcement only confirms what everyone in Chicago already knew,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “When it comes to supporting entrepreneurship, driving innovation, and—above all—delivering results, there is no better city in the nation than Chicago thanks to our vibrant ecosystem, diverse economy, and wealth of homegrown talent.”