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Article from Fenwick & West.

Background—We analyzed the terms of venture financings for 114 companies headquartered in Silicon Valley that reported raising money in the first quarter of 2012.

Overview of Fenwick & West Results

  • Up rounds exceeded down rounds in 1Q12, 65% to 22%, with 13% of rounds flat. This showed continued solid valuations in the venture environment, although a small drop off from 3Q11 and 4Q11, when 70% of rounds were up rounds. This was the eleventh quarter in a row in which up rounds exceeded down rounds.
  • The Fenwick & West Venture Capital Barometer™ showed an average price increase of 52% in 1Q12, a decline from the 85% reported in 4Q11, but still a solid showing.
  • We note some weakness in late stage financing (Series E and higher) valuations, where 37% of the financings were down rounds and the Barometer reported only a 12% increase. Series B financings were also not as frothy as they have been, with a Barometer reading of 58%, the lowest since 4Q09, but still very solid.

The results by industry are set forth below. In general software and digital media/internet companies continued to see the strongest valuation increases, with hardware and life sciences lagging.

Overview of Other Industry Data

  • Venture valuations were healthy, but investment was down.
  • M&A valuations were up, but the number of deals was down.
  • Venture fundraising was mixed, but corporate venture investing was up.
  • IPOs were up, and the passage of the JOBS Act is a further encouraging signal for the public market, but continuing global financial uncertainty, especially in Europe, is a concern.

So what is the take-away? Venture fundraising continues to be problematic, and likely contributed to the decreased venture investment the last two quarters. However with IPOs improving, and interest rates still extremely low, there is reason to believe that venture fundraising will improve, if the global economic environment doesn’t further increase risk averseness. The M&A market slowed a bit in 1Q12, possibly to give participants a chance to evaluate the improvement in IPOs, and its possible effect on valuations, but corporate America has plenty to spend, evidenced by their increasing participation in venture investment. And the areas of entrepreneurial focus and innovation are broad, with mobile, cloud, security, big data and of course social media all attracting substantial attention.

Venture Capital Investment.

  • Venture capital investment in the U.S. declined for the second quarter in a row, with the decline evident in most major industry segments, including internet/digital media.
  • Dow Jones VentureSource (“VentureSource”) reported $6.2 billion of venture investment in 717 deals in 1Q12, a 16% decline in dollars from the $7.4 billion invested in 803 deals in 4Q11 (as reported in January 2012).
  • The PwC/NVCA MoneyTree™ Report based on data from Thomson Reuters (the “MoneyTree Report”) reported $5.8 billion of venture investment in 758 deals in 1Q12, a 12% decline from the $6.6 billion invested in 844 deals in 4Q11 (as reported in January 2012).

Merger and Acquisitions Activity.

  • M&A activity for venture-backed companies had mixed results in 1Q12, with deal volume declining for the second quarter in a row, to the lowest quarterly amount since 2009, but with Dow Jones reporting a significant increase in deal proceeds.
  • Dow Jones reported 94 acquisitions of venture-backed companies in 1Q12 for $18.1 billion, a 12% decline in transaction volume, but a 93% increase in dollars, from the 107 transactions for $9.4 billion in 4Q11 (as reported in January 2012).
  • Thomson Reuters and the NVCA (“Thomson/NVCA”) reported 86 transactions in 1Q12, a 7% decline from the 92 reported in 4Q11 (as reported in January 2012). Sixty-eight of the 86 deals were in the IT sector.
  • Dealogic reported that Google, Facebook, Groupon and Zynga purchased a combined 34 companies in 1Q12 (not necessarily all venture-backed).

IPO Activity.

  • IPO activity for venture-backed companies improved again in 1Q12, which was the best quarter for number of IPOs since 4Q07.
  • VentureSource reported 20 venture-backed IPOs raising $1.4 billion in 1Q12, compared to 10 IPOs raising $2.4 billion in 4Q11 (as reported in January 2012). There were 50 companies in registration at the end of the quarter.

We note that the new law that permits confidential IPO filings may delay future information on the number of companies in registration, as a substantial number of companies appear to be taking advantage of this alternative.

Thomson/NVCA reported 19 IPOs for $1.5 billion in 1Q12, compared to 12 IPOs raising $2.6 billion in 4Q11. Eleven of the IPOs were in IT and five in healthcare, and 95% were U.S.-based companies.

Venture Capital Fundraising.

  • Industry sources reported conflicting fundraising results for 1Q12, with Dow Jones reporting an increase in dollars raised and Thomson/NVCA reporting a decline. Taking an average of the two, venture capital fundraising and venture capital investing were approximately equal this quarter, but the number of funds raising money continues to be low.
  • Dow Jones reported that 47 U.S. venture funds raised $7 billion in 1Q12, a 35% increase in dollars over the $5.2 billion that was raised in 4Q11 (as reported in January 2012).

Thomson/NVCA reported that 42 U.S. venture capital funds raised $4.9 billion in 1Q12, a 13% decrease in dollars over the $5.6 billion raised by 38 U.S. funds in 4Q12 (as reported in January 2012). The top 5 fundraisers accounted for 75% of the total amount raised, with Andreessen Horowitz raising $1.5 billion and leading the way.

Secondary Markets.

  • The secondary market for venture-backed company shares is in uncharted waters.
  • The recently passed JOBS Act made filing for an IPO more appealing to companies, which could decrease the number of late stage private companies whose shares would be available for secondary trading. However, the Act also increased the maximum number of shareholders that private companies could have before registering with the SEC, which allows private companies to stay private longer, which could increase the pool of late stage private companies whose shares would be available for secondary trading.
  • Additionally, Facebook, which accounted for a large percentage of the trading on secondary exchanges, and whose shares were also purchased by secondary funds, just went public, and secondary trading of their shares ended at the end of March 2012.
  • And the venture-backed IPO market seems to be improving in general, providing more opportunity for late stage private companies to go public.
  • Second Market reported that issuers were the buyer in 54% of second market transactions, but only accounted for 1.7% of transaction proceeds, suggesting that issuers are using Second Market to purchase small amounts of shares from numerous sellers, likely to limit their number of shareholders.

Corporate Venture Capital.

  • With a challenging venture fundraising environment, we thought it would be useful to provide some information on corporate venture capital (“CVC”).
  • In general, CVC declined precipitously in 2009 as a result of the stock market decline and global financial problems in 2008. Since then it has rebounded significantly with corporate venture investment increasing from $1.4 billion in 2009 to $2.0 billion in 2010 to $2.3 billion in 2011. Similarly, CVCs participated in 12.7% of all venture deals in 2009, 13.6% in 2010 and 14.9% in 2011. That said, these amounts significantly lag 2007, the best year for CVC in the past decade, when CVCs invested $2.6 billion and participated in 19% of deals (data from the MoneyTree Report).
  • While companies like Intel and Cisco have long been significant players in CVC investing, it will be interesting to see how heavily the current wave of major Silicon Valley companies participate in CVC. One indiciation is that Google started Google Ventures two years ago with the goal of investing $100 million a year, and has invested in 20 start-ups through March 2012. (Data from San Jose Mercury)
  • Another indication of CVC activity is that the number of CVCs who are members of the NVCA has grown from 50 to 62 members in the past year, and now comprises 7% of the total membership. (Data from Dow Jones VentureWire)
  • CVC investment seems more focused in industries with large capital requirements like cleantech and biotech, which accounted for 23% and 16% of CVC investment respectively in 2010/2011, than are independent venture capitalists. (Data from the MoneyTree Report)

Venture Capital Sentiment.

The Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Confidence Index® produced by Professor Mark Cannice at the University of San Francisco reported that the confidence level of Silicon Valley venture capitalists was 3.79 on a 5 point sale in 1Q12, a significant increase from the 3.27 reported in 4Q11, and the first increase in four quarters.

Nasdaq.
Nasdaq increased 16% in 1Q12, but has declined 10% in 2Q12 through May 21.

Read more here.

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Here is some not-so-exciting news from Businessinsider.

“The third quarter was rough for VCs, with 17 firms raising just $1.6 billion. That’s the fewest firms to raise money since 1994, and it’s the smallest amount of money raised since Q1 2003, says the NVCA and Thomson Reuters.

It’s an 81% drop from a year ago, and a second quarter of declines.

There were three big raises–Andreessen Horowitz with $58.5 million, Vinod Khosla’s fund raised $750 million, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson raised $196 million. Without those funds, it would be a nightmare.”

Read the full article here.

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Here is an excellent blog entry from Mind The Bridge.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed last February 2009, pours over $65 billion into renewable energy, energy efficiency and greentech financing of which 6.5 billion for R&D. It is a real “Green New Deal”: The most significant effort in public spending in science and technology after the launch of the Apollo Program. And «it only costs the equivalent of a couple of months in Irak» as a blogger commented on the New York Times website. A big part of these dollars is already profiting Silicon Valley start-ups and research centers, which are leading the way through future technological development.”

It continues…

“The most important incentives deployed by the Stimulus Package are the following:

  • A large sum for energy efficiency, including $5 billion for low-income weatherization programs; over $6 billion in grants for state and local governments; and several billion to modernize federal buildings, with a particular emphasis on energy efficiency.
  • $11 billion for “smart grid” investments.
  • $3.4 billion for carbon capture and sequestration demonstration projects (also known as “clean coal”).
  • $2 billion for research into batteries for electric cars.
  • $500 million to help workers train for “green jobs.”
  • A three-year extension of the “production tax credit” for wind energy (as well as a tax credit extension for biomass, geothermal, landfill gas and some hydropower projects).
  • The option, available to many developers, of turning their tax credits into direct cash, with the government underwriting 30 percent of a project’s cost.

For more details, I found the DSIRE database very useful to navigate the complex space of federal and state incentives for renewables and efficiency.”

In Silicon Valley, the following companies are eyeing these funds.

“Renewable Power Generation : Thin Film Solar photovoltaic
Solyndra is the first company to receive an offer for a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee within the Stimulus Package. Solyndra, a Fremont, California-based manufacturer of innovative cylindrical photovoltaic systems using thin film technology, will use the proceeds of a $535 million loan from the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank to expand its solar panel manufacturing capacity in California. Also in the thin-film sector, Heliovolt is looking into the Stimulus Package for the development of its technology and production capacity. It is a CIGS thin-film PV panel manufacturer that uses a fraction of semiconductor material used in traditional silicon cells, significantly slicing costs while at the same time achieving performances comparable to traditional silicon cells.

Transportation: Electric Cars and Biofuels
Tesla Motors, Inc. is awaiting word on a $350 million loan application to the Department of Energy that would allow the electric carmaker to build the Model S sedan, which is expected to cost $57,400. Tesla is a Silicon Valley automobile startup company focusing on the production of high performance, consumer-oriented battery electric vehicles. In the biodiesel space, Aurora Biofuels uses proprietary technology developed at the University of California at Berkeley, to produce biodiesel feedstock from microalgae. Based in Alameda, California, Aurora’s technology achieves yields that are 100 times higher and at significant lower costs than traditional bioethanol production methods.

Energy Efficiency:
Serious Materials, a leading sustainable building materials company based in Sunnyvale, CA, announced that it fully supports the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act energy efficiency provisions. “We are already opening plants to meet the Recovery Act demand and hiring what may be hundreds of workers this year.” The company’s products such as SeriousWindows and SeriousGlass can reduce heating and cooling energy costs by up to 50%. Under the Recovery Act, homeowners can receive federal tax credits for “qualified energy-efficient improvements,” which include windows, doors and skylights. The new tax credits are for 30% of the cost of eligible products up to a limit of $1,500.

Efficiency of Infrastructures: Smart Grid Management Systems
Lumenergi, Inc., a Newark, CA based start-up is emerging rapidly in a space populated by large corporations. Lumenergi manufactures advanced and price-competitive dimming electronic ballast for fluorescent lighting that, combined with a proprietary lighting control system, is able to achieve energy savings in the order of 70%. In addition, Lumenergi’s system is Demend Response ready, allowing utilities to save energy at peak loads. This provides a huge opportunity as lighting accounts for 23 percent of all electricity consumption in the U.S. and 50 percent of electricity used in high-rise buildings. Coupled with rebates and grants that are increasingly being offered by utilities or state energy offices, Lumenergi estimates that a customer could get a return on their investment in only two years.

With billions of dollars from the Recovery Act flowing into smart grid investments, pushing utilities towards efficiency, and funding energy efficiency retrofits of commercial and governmental building, Lumenergi and other technology start-ups in Silicon Valley are getting organized to make the most out of federal and state funding.”

Click here to read the full article.

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