U.S. Venture Investment Off To A Slow Start

[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

U.S.-based companies raised $6.3 billion through 717 venture capital deals during the first quarter of 2012, an 18% decline in capital and 9% decline in deals from the same period last year, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.

“The declines were pretty evenly spread across industries so there weren’t any big winners or big losers in the quarter, but there were some surprises. Investment in consumer Internet companies fell after two exceptional investment years, while the IT industry fared well thanks to strong interest in software start-ups,” said Jessica Canning, global research director for Dow Jones VentureSource.

The median amount invested in a financing round fell 13% to $4 million in the first quarter of 2012.

Investment in Consumer Internet Companies Falls

Investment in the consumer Internet sector, which includes social media, entertainment and shopping aggregators, fell 76% and deals fell 17% to $375 million raised for 88 deals during the first quarter. In the first quarter of 2011, however, the investment total was inflated by large closings from mature companies, including Zynga and LivingSocial which raised $870 million combined.

“Now that some of the mature Internet companies that soaked up billions in venture capital the last couple of years have gone public or are near an exit, we’ll see if venture investors approach a fresh crop of start-ups with the same zeal or if investment remains at the level we saw in the first quarter,” said Zoran Basich, editor of Dow Jones VentureWire.

Only IT Industry Saw Deals and Investment Increase

Information technology (IT) was the only major industry that saw a year-over-year increase for both deals and capital raised. IT companies raised $2 billion through 257 deals, a 14% increase in capital invested and a 2% increase in deals.

The software sector accounted for the largest proportion of IT deals as companies raised $1.3 billion for 196 deals, a 61% increase in capital raised and a 6% increase in deals.

Biopharmaceuticals Investment Declines; Health IT Stays Strong

In the first quarter, healthcare companies raised $1.5 billion for 165 deals, an 18% decline in investment and 9% decline in deals. Within healthcare, the biopharmaceuticals sector saw the most significant decline as 53 deals raised $523 million, a 31% drop in deals and 46% decline in capital raised.

Also during the first quarter, medical device companies raised $748 million for 83 deals, a 2% decline in investment and 14% increase in deals. Investors favored later-stage rounds, with more than half (51%) of the deals going to companies raising later-stage or restart rounds.

The health IT sector remained small but solid thanks to interest in technologies that manage health information and data. Health IT companies raised $102 million for 18 deals in the first quarter, a 75% increase in capital and one more deal than was completed in the same period a year ago.

Large Energy Deals Boost Investment Total

Several large rounds for later-stage energy companies boosted the capital invested in the energy and utilities industry, despite a decrease in deals. During the first quarter, $943 million was raised for 29 deals, a 44% increase in capital raised for one less deal than was completed in the first quarter of 2011.

As usual, renewable energy companies accounted for most of the deals, raising $513 million through 23 rounds.

Investment in Enterprise Start-Ups Slides

After two years of steady growth, deals for business and financial services start-ups fell. In the first quarter, 100 deals raised $947 million, a 29% decline in deals and 10% decline in capital raised from the same period a year ago. Investment in this area is largely driven by interest in data management, marketing and advertising companies and the decline is partly a result of the two- to three-year financing cycle of companies in the industry, which has resulted in fewer of them seeking financing this year.

Early-Stage Deals Garner a Larger Proportion of the Capital

Seed- and first-rounds accounted for 44% of deals and 21% of capital invested during the first quarter, the same proportion of deals as the corresponding period last year but an increase from 16% of capital raised in that quarter. Second rounds accounted for 19% of deals in the first quarter, on par with the year-ago period, and 17% of capital invested, a mild change from 18% during the same period last year. Later-stage deals accounted for 35% of the first quarter’s deals, the same as last year, and 61% of total capital raised, a change from last year when later-stage rounds collected 64% of the capital invested.

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