Web 2.0 investing on the rise

Venture-capital investment in Web 2.0 companies, generally ad-supported websites in fields like social networking or blogging, is showing signs of maturity, with more deals happening outside the Silicon Valley tech heartland.

A Wall Street Journal report says:

  • Investors directed $646.2 million into 101 deals world-wide in the first half of the year, a 6% increase in investments over the same period in 2006, amid a rising interest in Web 2.0 in Europe and Israel.
  • US investments were virtually unchanged from the first half of 2006 with 67 deals and $357 million invested.
  • $52 million was put to work in 20 European Web 2.0 deals in the first half, roughly double the deals and investments seen in the same period last year.
  • Israeli Web 2.0 companies raised $15 million in five deals in the first half, up from two deals and $5 million invested in all of 2006.

Investment in Web 2.0 startups has skyrocketed in the past two years, the Journal says, as inexpensive technology has made it easier for people to communicate through the internet.

You only have to look at the just-concluded TechCrunch 40 conference and startup beauty contest in San Francisco to see some evidence, where quite a few of the participants were startups from outside the US.

That event showcased 40 startups looking for exposure, relationships and money. What’s perhaps more interesting is that the 40 were the finalists; over 700 budding Web 2.0 businesses applied for a place in the spotlight.

While serious players have many ways to find out about opportunities for venturous investing, information for the rest of us has typically been limited to investing-focused print and online mainstream and specialist media. And very few of those have any meaningful focus on the Web 2.0 area.

If you are interested in Web 2.0 businesses and opportunities, required reading (and participation, if you want to) has been the major influential sites such as TechCrunch, some of the Business 2.0 blogs and perhaps GigaOM, all US-based and, with the distinct exception of TechCrunch, heavily US-focused.

(One mainstream media resource I find most useful is FT Alphaville, a Financial Times blog with a tagline that says it all: “instant market insight.” Not Web 2.0 specific by any means but very useful information nevertheless.)

In Europe, we now have some great places to go to for news and information about Web 2.0 and other tech startups, all of which began this year.

Blognation, for instance, with its growing network of country-specific sites including a few outside Europe. And the resurrected TechCrunch UK and Ireland.

Perhaps the clearest indicator of the rise in investing and other opportunities related to Web 2.0 businesses in Europe is Le Web 3, probably the leading and most influential such event here which takes place in Paris in December.

Like TechCrunch 40, Le Web 3 will offer a platform for 30 startups to present their businesses and technologies to some of the most influential players in the tech and VC market anywhere.

I would expect that list of 30 to be filled very quickly indeed.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.