Mutual fund giants aren't just interested in putting money to work in publicly traded companies. Increasingly, they also want to own a piece of red-hot start-ups.
Analysts at CB Insights recently looked at deal trends among five mutual-fund firms—BlackRock, Fidelity Investments, Janus Capital, T. Rowe Price, and Wellington Management. As the analysts note, outside of Janus, last year was the biggest ever for start-up deals for each of the firms, which completed six to 16 U.S. deals each.
For instance, after no U.S. tech deals in 2013, Wellington Management jumped into 12 deals, including a $71 million investment into real estate tech platform Redfin and a $40 million round into cybersecurity company Veracode.
T. Rowe Price doubled its number of private tech deals into venture-backed start-ups in 2014.
Fidelity, Janus, BlackRock and Wellington did not immediately return a request for comment.
In a statement to CNBC, T. Rowe Price emphasized that the company has always invested in "promising emerging growth companies" that can potentially add long-term value for clients.
The company said it pursues a thorough assessment of the prospects and past performance of the company, which typically includes meetings with management and a review of company financial information.