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Venture capital doesn’t play as big of a role in acquired companies as one might think.

We talk a lot around here about the importance of venture capital — the fuel for new business ventures. But venture capital may be a bit overrated — at least when it comes to acquisitions of privately-held tech companies.

According to a new study released today by CB Insights, a whopping 76 percent of acquired tech companies last year had not raised venture capital prior to their sale. That’s a bit surprising to me, but the authors of the report note that many businesses are growing the “old-fashioned way” — from profits or bank loans.

We’ve seen this play out here in Seattle.

Double Down Interactive, which sold last year to casino gaming giant IGT for up to $500 million, never raised venture capital funding. Another Seattle-based gaming startup, PopCap, bootstrapped its way to success before taking late-stage funding from Meritech Capital before its sale to Electronic Arts for up to $1.3 billion in July 2011.

Washington state ranked 6th at 50 deals.

The CB Insights report found that 2,277 tech companies were acquired last year, with expectations that the market could heat up even more in 2013 due to the enormous cash piles of big technology juggernauts like Google, Microsoft and

In fact, Google and Facebook were the top two acquirers of private tech companies in 2012 — acquiring 12 companies each. They were followed by Cisco, Groupon, Twitter, Oracle, Avnet, IBM, EMC and Microsoft. Most of the acquisitions in 2012, over 80 percent in fact, were under $200 million in value.

California is king of the castle when it comes to tech acquisitions, with 455 deals. That was more than the next five states — New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington — combined.

I’ll be discussing some of the trends in tech M&A at the The World Financial Symposium’s Growth and Exit Strategies for Software and IT Companies conference on Wednesday morning. I hope to report on the discussion, so check back on GeekWire for more reports.

Money photo on home page via Philip Taylor

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