VC Deals Report: Foreign Markets Pushing Device & Carrier Plays While US Investors Long Apps

Some of the biggest venture rounds of the first half went to consumer-centric app developers like U.S.-based Instagram, Evernote and Path, according to a global Rutberg & Co VC report.

But the biggest deals? They weren’t in the US. In fact, the biggest deals were also not for app-centric developments. Instead, think wireless phones and networks.

Two-year-old Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi Tech bagged a $216 million round. American Express furthered its penetration of China’s market, joining in a $125 million round in Lianlian Pay. And in Italy, Linkem, a wireless broadband operator, also found new backing.

In addition, Sistema Shyam, an Indian mobile operator that is currently racking up losses, raised a whopping $158 million.

In fact, the only deal from the US to round out the top 5 biggest VC mobile deals of the first half was the $135 million round for Sonos, the wireless audio system. VCs joined in the round—including BV Capital, Redpoint Ventures and Index Ventures—but it was private equity firm KKR that led the investment.

While Silicon Valley wasn’t matching mega-deals overseas, investors there sought out app investments. Deals included $70 million for freemium note recorder Evernote, Foursquare’s $50 million round and investments in other mobile and social apps like Instagram, Path and Viddy.

Other key takeaways: for the first half of 2012, mobile VC investing represented nearly half of global tech venture capital activity, at 46.3%—an all-time high—and strategic investors Microsoft, Intel and Samsung blazed the path by making the most investments by dollar volume. Far and away, consumer apps dominated investors’ application activity, reeling in $1 billion in venture capital.

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