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Benchmark Scores High in Exit Tally

You know a venture capital firm is scoring a lot of exits when they have two in a year that begin with the letters “Zi” alone.

The firm behind that alphabetically impressive tally is none other than Silicon Valley’s Benchmark Capital, offering proof that one doesn’t have to raise billion dollar funds to deliver a long list of exits.

Benchmark, which invests across sectors but specializes in consumer Internet, software and mobile, has racked up 18 exits since the beginning of last year, according to a list compiled from Thomson Reuters data and reviewed by the firm.

The list includes a mix of IPOs and acquisitions, with at least eight securing valuations above $300 million. The mostly highly valued company, user-generated business review site Yelp, recently traded at a market capitalization around $1.6 billion. The next-highest, real estate website Zillow, is worth around $1.35 billion. The other “Zi” company, in case you were wondering, is Zipcar, which went public in April of last year.

The exit track record is particularly noteworthy given that Benchmark is one of not too many top-tier firms that have resisted the call to scale up fund size of late. Benchmark’s Fund VII, its most recent vehicle, closed in 2011 with $425 million, according to filings. That’s pretty consistent with Benchmark’s prior couple of sequential funds, which were also in the $400 million to $500 million range.

That said, it’s not as if Benchmark has no history of investing on a larger scale. In the wake of its enormous success as an early stage investor in eBay during the late ’90s dot-com boom, But in recent years, the firm has been more comfortable with a limited partnership and fund size.

For a full table of Benchmark exits since the start of 2011, VCJ subscribers can go here.