Forget Big Data. 2012 Was the Year of Big Furniture

What a difference a year makes.

That, journalism instructors drilled into my brain, is the absolute worst cliché with which to begin a news article.

But for this particular topic – e-commerce and venture capital – it is also a succinct way to sum up what’s been a pretty obvious shift in strategy.

Basically, here’s what happened. In 2010 and 2011, VCs poured money into online coupon and group buying sites such as Groupon and Living Social. They also backed big rounds for other online retailers, but not as big.

Now, things have reversed. In the wake of Groupon’s IPO implosion, funding for group buying sites dried up. Specialized e-commerce retailers, meanwhile, continued to draw big rounds, with companies such as design-focused site Fab.com, kid-focused retailer Zulily and curated online accessory shop JustFabulous raising a combined $275 million in 2012. Online furniture sellers were particularly popular this past year, with four of them – Fab (which also sells clothes), 1stdibs.com (which specializes in antiques), One Kings Lane and Wayfair – among the 10 most heavily funded ecommerce-related companies.

In the following slideshow, we look at the five largest rounds of the year for U.S.-based online retailers.

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