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U.S. App Startups See Decline in Funding as Investors Shift Focus to AI

By Unicorn Nest Team

19 Dec, 2023

In a notable shift within the U.S. venture capital landscape, the once-dominant app startups are now seeing a marked decline in funding. This year, venture capitalists have poured approximately $3 billion into app startups, a significant decrease compared to previous years, according to data from Crunchbase. This change is particularly striking given that in 2016, app startups accounted for 14% of all U.S. funding. However, fast forward to 2023, and their share of the capital pie has dwindled to a mere 2.5%, despite the ever-growing popularity of applications.

The investment trend for U.S.-based app startups reached its zenith in 2021 with a massive $19 billion inflow. Yet, this momentum was short-lived as the sector experienced a steep 64% plunge in funding the following year, closing at just $6.7 billion. This downturn isn’t just a one-off event; the trend of declining investments continues, with many investors now turning their attention and resources towards the burgeoning field of AI.

In this challenging funding landscape, only a handful of app startups have managed to secure significant funding. This year, merely four app startups succeeded in raising mega rounds of over $100 million. More strikingly, not a single startup in the sector has been able to surpass the $200 million funding mark.

Despite this overall downturn, certain niches within the app sector continue to attract investor interest. Health and healthcare app startups, in particular, remain a focal point for investment. The largest funding success story this year within the U.S. app startup space is ShiftMed, an on-demand healthcare workforce application. In February, ShiftMed made headlines by securing a substantial $200 million in funding.

This shift in investment patterns from app startups to AI signals a significant realignment in investor priorities. While specific sectors like healthcare apps continue to draw interest, the broader U.S. app startup ecosystem is grappling with a new reality of reduced funding and heightened competition, especially from the rapidly evolving AI sector.


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