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Two Words For Startups Looking For An Exit: Good Luck

This story was written by Joseph Tartakoff.
For the second straight quarter, there wasn't a single venture-backed IPO in Q109, and merger-and-acquisition activity was down sharply, according to a quarterly report from the National Venture Capital Association.

No category, including both "communications and media" and "internet-specific" companies, was immune from the weakness. There were five "communications and media" deals and nine "Internet-specific" deals this quarter. A year ago, there were six "communications and media" and 12 "Internet-specific" deals.

"Given the non-existent IPO market, corporate acquirers are in a position to be more selective and bide their time when considering acquisitions," said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association, in a statement. Overall, the number of deals dropped almost in half, from 106 in the first quarter of 2008 to 56 in the first quarter of this year. Returns for venture- capital firms also shrunk, with the group reporting that only 23 percent of deals were valued at more than four times the venture investment, down from 46 percent a year ago.

Going ahead, the National Venture Capital Association does not expect the picture to improve any time soon."We expect to see a slowing of transactions this year as the best venture-backed companies will wait for market conditions to improve rather than accepting the lower valuations associated with the challenging market," Heesen said.

By Joseph Tartakoff

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