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U.S. venture capital investments exceed 2019 despite pandemic gloom

(Reuters) - Despite an initial freeze in investments early in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. venture capital funding this year has already overtaken 2019 levels as many tech companies got a boost from remote work and an e-commerce boom.

U.S. venture capital investments as of Dec. 1 totaled $139.6 billion across 9,898 deals, compared with $137.3 billion across 12,189 deals last year, according to previously unreleased data from PitchBook.

That makes 2020 the third straight year for U.S. venture capital investments to exceed the $100 billion mark.

Several investors have said that they are betting the pandemic will have the lasting effect of pushing more economic activity online, making up for the businesses boarding up on Main Street.

The investors added that they are investing in startups that aim to enable the further digitization of sectors like banking, retail and healthcare.

Fintech was a big focus for U.S. venture capital investors in 2020 with trading app Robinhood Markets Inc raising more than $1.2 billion over two deals, alternative lending company Affirm raising $500 million and digital bank Chime raising $485 million.

Other big rounds of funding this year include autonomous driving company Waymo, which raised $3 billion, and Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX, which raised $1.9 billion.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Jane Lanhee Lee in Oakland

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