VC investment hits $86B thanks to Uber, Xiaomi

The venture capital industry poured $86.7 billion into companies in 2014, the highest level in nearly 15 years, driven by big punts on U.S. companies like Uber and Snapchat, according to a new report.

The investments amounted to a total of 6,507 deals, with the fourth quarter alone seeing $26.1 billion money spent, the strongest since the third quarter of 2000, according to financial services firm EY.

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Uber app
Quique Garcia | AFP | Getty Images

"The outlook for VC investing and VC-backed companies remains positive as improving economic conditions continue to support the global fundraising environment," EY's report said.

VC funding was at its all-time high in the U.S., Europe and China. Investment in the U.S. hit $52.1 billion, driven by mega deals such as a $1.2 billion dollar funding round in taxi hailing app Uber in December. The U.S. figures mark 47 percent year-on-year growth in funding value in 2014.

Europe's VC investments totalled $10.5 billion, a 27 percent rise from the year before. Meanwhile China saw funding almost triple, hitting $15.6 billion. This was boosted by a $1.1 billion funding round in Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi.

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Unsurprisingly, the Bay Area in San Francisco retained its dominance with $24.7 billion invested in 2014 into companies in that area, almost double the 2013 figure of $13.9 billion. Beijing shot up to second place from sixth with $7.7 billion of funding.

And it was the consumer services sector – which includes companies such as Uber, Snapchat and India's Flipkart – that drew in the most money with $29 billion dollars invested.

The level of listings backed by venture capitalists grew across all markets in 2014, but Europe was the outperformer with proceeds from public listings hitting $4.7 billion in 2014, a 600 percent increase from the year before. This was driven by the IPO exit of Rocket Internet AG which raised $1.8 billion in the last quarter of 2014, EY said.

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'Overheated'

We're not in a tech bubble, but it's pretty hot: VC
We're not in a tech bubble, but it's pretty hot: VC   

Money has been flowing into some of the technology sector's hot property, and some investors have expressed concern. Top VC Fred Destin, a partner at venture capital firm Accel Partners, last week told CNBC that the technology start-up market is "overheated".

Despite this EY does not see any sign of slowing momentum.

"As investor confidence continues to build with improving market conditions and investment returns on upswing, strong levels of investing is likely to be seen in the year to come," the report said.

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