Venturing In or Out? Funding for Turn, Millennial and More

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stacks_smallADOTAS – Though not as impressive as 2007, Dow Jones VentureSource reported that exit activity for venture-backed companies in 2010 jumped 25% over the year prior.

In 2010, 514 companies achieved liquidity for a net of $39.3 billion, the best year since 2007 when 613 exits netted $69.1 billion. Way up from the eight IPOs of 2009, 46 venture-backed companies went public in 2010 and raised $3.4 billion. In addition, 445 mergers and acquisitions garnered $33.9 billion, a 17% increase from the year before.

Venture-capital backed companies raised a median of $69 million (compared to $43 million in 2009) before launching an IPO and $20 million in funding before ascending to liquidity through a merger. Dow Jones also noptes that 44 companies are planning to go public so far this year, far more impressive than the 25 lined up last year at the same time.

All this has fueled speculation that 2011 will be the year of “blockbuster IPOs,” particularly in the social media sector — Facebook and Groupon and Zynga, oh my — but don’t cross your fingers yet. These companies don’t seem to have any interest in going public and continure soaking up venture capital — Facebook was the recipient of $500 million from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies (which boosted its total Facebook investment to $700 million) while Groupon will soon announce a $950 million round of funding.

The myriad funding announcements from digital ad tech firms hitting my inbox certainly suggests there’s a helluva lot of entering going on. I’ve already written about social targeting platform 33Across raising $9 million, and major investments in Centro and AdKeeper, but here are several more funding announcements from the first week of the new year:

  • After noting its revenue had tripled in 2010, mobile ad network Millennial Media boasted it had just received $27.5 million in growth equity funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, Charles River Ventures and New Enterprise Associates. Millennial, which for a while had caught RIM’s eye as an acquisition target, has raised $65 million in total equity funding and will use the new funds for new acquisitions — the network acquired mobile analytic firm TapMetrics last year.
  • DSP Turn left a Series D round of funding with $20 million. The round was led by Greenspring Associates, and all of Turn’s pervious investors — Norwest Venture Partners, Trident Capital, Shasta Ventures and Focus Ventures — put in their fair shares as well. Turn plans to use the capital in bolstering its technology infrastructure and expanding international operations.
  • Dachis Group raised $30 million in a Series B round of funding led by Austin Ventures. The social media consultancy went on a bit on a bit of an acquisition binge at the end of last year, purchasing Powered, Archrival and Stuzo during November and December.
  • Targeting platform [x+1] secured $10 million in a Series B funding round led by Intel Capital with participation from existing investors Advanced Technology Ventures, Blue Chip Venture Company and Hudson Venture Partners.

So is 2011 the year of the exit? With so much venture capital flooding in, it doesn’t seem so… But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the digital space, it’s that everything can turn around at a moment’s notice.

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