Angel Investments Since the Economic Downturn

angel investments

In an earlier post, I discussed how venture capital deals have changed since the financial crisis and the Great Recession. Today, I want to point out some changes in angel deals and angel investments over the same period.

Because there is a lot less information on angel investing than on venture capital, I will concentrate on just four dimensions of angel finance:

  • The number of investors.
  • The amount invested annually.
  • The number of businesses funded each year.
  • The average size of the investments.

Number of Angel Investors

The number of angel investors isn’t appreciably different now from what it was before the Great Recession. The Center for Venture Research (CVR) at the University of New Hampshire estimates that there were 258,200 angel investors in the United States (PDF) in 2007 and 268,160 in 2012.

That’s a change of less than 4 percent.

Amount Angel Investments

The amount of financing provided by business angels has changed by much more, declining 20 percent inflation-adjusted terms from before the recession to last year. According to CVR’s estimates, angels invested $27.3 billion in 2007 versus $21.8 billion in 2012 (both measured in 2010 dollars).

Number of Companies Financed

In contrast to the amount of money provided to entrepreneurs, which is now lower than before the start of the Great Recession, the number of companies receiving financing is currently substantially higher. The CVR estimates a 17.3 percent increase in the number of companies funded by angels between 2007 and 2012 (from 57,120 to 67,030).

Angel Investment Size

The decline in the amount of capital provided by angel investors combined with the increase in the number of companies that business angels have financed has led a sizable drop in the size of average angel investments.

As the figure below shows, average angel investments were roughly one third lower last year than in 2007, when measured in real terms. Moreover, the relatively constant size of the average angel investment in the early part of the 2000s and again since 2008 suggests that the financial crisis and Great Recession has led angels to fundamentally alter the size of their investments.

Source: Created from data from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire
Source: Created from data from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire

In short, angels have responded to the changed economic environment, not by exiting the market, but by providing less money to more startups, thereby dramatically reducing the size of the average angel investment.

Business Angel Photo via Shutterstock

Scott Shane Scott Shane is A. Malachi Mixon III, Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of nine books, including Fool's Gold: The Truth Behind Angel Investing in America ; Illusions of Entrepreneurship: and The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By.