Fire sales coming for private tech companies

John Shinal · November 26, 2008 · Short URL:

Tim Miller of 451 Group says big corporate buyers on the hunt

October has historically been a very bad month for the U.S. stock market. This year, the big-time pain started in September and is still going. 

But, as a hedge fund manager once told me, it only hurts if you're selling.

If you're a big strategic buyer with a long-term time horizon, a lot of smaller tech firms -- both public and private -- are on sale right now.

That's why tech giants like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and others are on the hunt for acquisitions, says Tim Miller, VP of the tech consulting firm 451 Group. 

Companies like these with huge piles of cash see lots of bargains amid small and mid-sized companies whose valuations have been beaten down amid the market turmoil.

"It's going to be a buyers' market," says Miller, whose firm provides analysis to large companies, investors, banks and corporate IT buyers. 

That's not great news for VCs who've backed the startups, but at least it will provide an exit, now that the IPO market has dried up and isn't likely to run flush again anytime soon.

Miller sees the IPO drought lasting for at least another year, echoing what we've heard from others.

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