Venture-backed IPOs and mergers decline in 2012 after Facebook’s sluggish debut

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Forty nine venture-backed companies completed initial public offerings during 2012, a slight decline over 2011 when 51 companies made the plunge. Nonetheless, the amount of money raised through the offerings — in part driven by Facebook’s big offering from May — mushroomed in 2012 to $21.4 billion. That was double 2011′s haul and the biggest total since 2000, according to a study released today by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.

The report also analyzed M&A transactions of venture-backed companies, showing a decline to 435 deals with an aggregate disclosed value of $21 billion during 2012. That compared to 488 deals with a total disclosed valued of $24 billion in 2011.

“While the venture capital and startup communities were optimistic about a more robust IPO market in 2012, political, economic and market conditions served as the backdrop for a series of fits and starts which hurt volume growth throughout the year for public offerings and acquisitions alike,” said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA. “Yet, while increased volumes remained elusive, the overall quality of exits this year was quite strong, and certainly sends a message that the market is receptive and open for business in 2013.”

In the Seattle area, no technology companies completed initial public offerings in 2012, meaning the last company to take the plunge was Zillow in July 2011. It was also a relatively slow year on the M&A front, with the most notable startup deal being IGT’s purchase of Double Down Interactive for as much as $500 million in January 2012. (The purchase of Clearwire doesn’t typically get counted in this tally since it was already public when Sprint announced its intentions to buy its remaining share).

Industry watchers are hoping for a bigger 2013 when it comes to IPOs in the Seattle area, with companies such as INRIX, Tableau, Nanostring and Zulily all potential contenders.

But the trends point to the IPO market actually slowing in the second half of 2012, driven in part by a lackluster Facebook performance. In fact, a second report released today by Dow Jones found that eight venture-backed companies completed IPOs during the fourth quarter, down from 10 that made the plunge in 2011.

The Dow Jones report said that 26 companies are currently in registration to go public, with just two filing in the fourth quarter of 2012.

“At the beginning of 2012, IPO deal activity increased dramatically as companies sought to capitalize on the blockbuster potential surrounding the Facebook IPO,” said Maryam Haque, senior research analyst for Dow Jones VentureSource. “As Facebook’s performance underwhelmed investors, enthusiasm appears to have turned into caution in the IPO market. Exits dropped 19% in the fourth quarter compared to last year.”

Here’s a look at the results from the Thomson Reuters and NVCA study: