Venture-backed exits: the top 10 of 2014

Most were IPOs, but the biggest of all was Facebook's $22 billion acquisition of WhatsApp

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 29, 2014
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Looking back on it, 2014 was a hell of a year for venture capital exits.

It  was a year where we saw some pretty incredible deals go down, some, like Renaissance Learning, and Ebates, being acquired for deals in the billions of dollars, as well as a huge number of IPOS for major companies, including,, and TrueCar.

Through the first nine months of 2014 there were 88 IPOs, already surpassing the 81 IPOs in 2013, according to the National Venture Capital Association. It should be noted, though, that the  average IPO offer amount is down to $123.9 million from $136.6 million last year

There were 23 VC-backed IPOs, which raised a total of $2.6 billion, during the third quarter of this year, making it the sixth quarter in a row to see at least 20 IPOs.  

In all, there were 341 M&A deals through Q3, compared to 391 M&A deals in all of 2013, so that is a number that will no doubt be surpassed in the final quarter. The average M&A deal is also up to $190 million, compared to $178 million last year. 

Let's take a look at the top10 venture-backed exits that contributed to these numbers in 2014, according to data from CBInsights. 

1. Mobile messaging startup Whatsapp

Exit: bought by Facebook

Valuation: $22 billion

Investors: Sequoia Capital

The biggest acquisition of the year, and one that kicked the mobile messaging space into high gear, leading to other purchases and investments, including Alibaba's $215 million investment in Tango, Rakuten's $900 million purchase of Viber and  the purchase of Bubbly the social messaging service where people share text and voice updates, by Indian social networking company Altruist.

2. Peer-to-peer loan provider Lending Club

Exit: IPO

Valuation: $5.4 billion

Investors: Norwest Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Morgenthaler Ventures, Union Square Ventures

The San Francisco-based company raised nearly $400 million in venture funding. In the full year 2013, Lending Club brought in $85 million in revenue, up from $30 million in 2012. It raised $870 million in its IPO.

3. Bandwidth infrastructure services provider Zayo Group Holdings

Exit: IPO

Valuation: $4.4 billion

Investors:  Oak Investment Partners, Battery Ventures, Columbia Capital, Centennial Ventures

The company had raised $225 million in funding, and generated $278 million in revenue in the third quarter of this year. It raised $287.8 million in its IPO. 

4. High-definition personal camera manufacturer GoPro

Exit: IPO

Valuation: $3.1 billion

Investors: US Venture Partners, Walden International, Steamboat Ventures

The company had raised $288.2 million and saw $985 million in revenue for 2013. GoPro raised $427 million in its IPO.

5. Networking equipment maker Arista Networks

Exit: IPO

Valuation:  $2.7 billion

Investors: Khosla Ventures, Index Ventures

The company saw a profit of $42.5 million on sales of $361.2 million in 2013. Arista raised $226 million in its IPO.

6. Food delivery company Grubhub Seamless

Exit: IPO

Valuation: $2 billion

Investors: Lightspeed Venture Partners, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures

After its merger with Seamless in May of last year, the company generated revenue of $137.1 million in 2013, an increase of 67% from 2012. The company had 3.4 million Active Diners as of the end of last year. The company raised $84 million in venture capital, and $192 million in its IPO.

7. Virtual reality technology company Oculus VR

Exit: bought by Facebook

Valuation: $2 billion

Investors: Spark Capital, Founders Fund, Matrix Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Formation 8

Facebook spent a total of $2 billion on Oculus back in March. That included $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock, which are valued at $1.6 billion. In addition, the agreement also provided for an additional $300 million earn-out in cash and stock based on the achievement of certain milestones.

The company had raised $93.4 million in venture capital funding.

8.  Enterprise mobile management and security solutions provider AirWatch

Exit: bought by VMWare

Valuation: $1.5 billion

Investors: Insight Venture Partners, Accel Partners

Founded in 2003, AirWatch is a mobile security and enterprise mobility management provider, with solutions that include mobile device, email, application, content, laptop and browser management. The company delivers solutions for either Corporate Owned or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. It has raised $225 million in venture capital.

9. Gealth information provider Castlight Health

Exit: IPO

Valuation: $1.4 billion

Investors: Oak Investment Partners, US Venture Partners, Venrock, Maverick Capital

The company, which raised $177 million in venture capital, booked $13 million in sales in 2013. Castlight  raised $178 million in its IPO. 

10. OnDeck Capital, an online small-business lender

Exit: IPO 

Valuation: $1.3 billion

Investors: Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures, Foundation Capital, First Round Capital

The company,  which raised $409 million in venture capital, has a loss of $24.2 million on $107.6 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2014. It raised $200 million in its IPO.

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