Last year wasn’t a banner year for venture-backed IPOs in the United States or elsewhere. But privately held technology companies sold themselves at an astonishing pace. Roughly six a day changed hands.
During the year, 2,277 private tech companies were acquired globally, according to a study from CB Insights. While most of the deals were relatively small, or completed without a disclosed transaction value, eight of the companies were purchased for more than $1 billion. Perhaps most surprising to people outside the technology industry, 76% did not raised a single dollar from VCs or angels prior to their sale.
The CB Insights study, released on Wednesday, found that the majority of deals with a known sales price – or 80% of them – were under $200 million size. A third of them, in fact, accounted for 80% of the dollars changing hands, including 2012’s top five deals, which were:
- Sunquest, which Roper Industries acquired for $1.42 billion;
- Nicira Networks, which VMware acquired for $1.26 billion;
- Meraki, which Cisco Systems acquired for $1.2 billion;
- SonicWall, which Dell acquired by $1.2 billion; and
- Yammar, which Microsoft acquired for $1.2 billion.
Not unexpectedly, the top acquirers for the year were Facebook and Google, each with 12 deals, followed by Cisco with 11, Groupon with 10, and Twitter, Oracle and Avnet, each with 9, the report found.
The most sought after companies were Web and mobile commerce companies (with 173 deals), advertising, sales and marketing companies (131 deals), and online news and information companies (88 deals).
Twenty percent of the companies acquired were based in California.
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