The venture industry has been debating about the “private IPO” trend in recent quarters, as growth rounds have largely replaced traditional IPOs as the preferred financing route for mature startups. The two graphs below are similar to a recent analysis done by Andreesson Horowitz, and compare IPO activity with “private IPO” rounds of at least $40 million in size. Both charts show significant increases in $40M+ rounds since 2014, on both value and count bases. The trend continued through June 2015, with another $18.5 billion invested through growth rounds versus only $3.5 billion raised through public offerings. But total value is only part of the story. Counts are also up for $40M+ rounds, from 172 in 2013 to 294 last year, a 71% jump. Another 187 $40M+ rounds were done in the first half of 2015, and there’s little reason to expect a slowdown this year in count.
What’s interesting, though, is that while growth rounds have largely replaced IPOs, IPO activity isn’t as weak as many suspect. Last year saw 119 VC-backed companies go public, easily the most since 2000 and a 38% increase over 2013. A good portion of last year’s IPOs were for biotech and pharma companies, which haven’t been privy to the same excitement from late stage investors like tech startups have been. It should be pointed out, then, that the “private IPO” phenomenon has been centered in tech-related companies like Uber, Snapchat and Airbnb, which have far different financing needs than smaller drug and biotech companies.
For comprehensive analysis of trends within the venture capital industry, including deal flow, valuation shifts, exit activity and more, click here to download our 3Q 2015 U.S. Venture Industry Report.