Earlier this week, Breitbart News broke described how hedge funds paid too much for venture investments and are actually losing money on many public offerings. Now a new report by pitchbook.com called “Are IPO down rounds to blame for dearth of VC tech IPOs?” reveals that the number of venture-backed tech companies seeking to go public is dwindling to a trickle. If the initial public offering (IPO) window closes, Silicon Valley could face a Dot-com Crash Version 2.0.
Breitbart News found that hedge funds managing supposedly conservative public pension plans have been taking massive amounts of risk by investing in late-stage technology venture capital deals in hopes of “making a killing” when companies go public. This tsunami of cash has pushed valuations for profitless single-idea-start-ups to such extremes, seasoned Silicon Valley followers now refer to them as “unicorn companies.”
Despite all the hype about Silicon Valley IPOs, Pitchbook found that compared to the 14 venture-backed technology companies that went public in the first quarter of 2014, only 2 VC-backed tech IPOs were successfully completed in the last three months.
The evaporating number of IPOs has had nothing to do with a lack of Silicon Valley venture funding. Venture capitalists invested $48.3 billion in 4,356 deals in 2014, an increase of 61 percent in dollars and a 4 percent in deals over the prior year, according to the “MoneyTree Report” by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association. Based on data from Thomson Reuters, the fourth quarter of 2014 hit an all-time-record with $14.8 billion being invested in 1,109 venture deals.
The type of Internet-specific and other software tech companies that dominate Silicon Valley companies captured 41 percent of all venture capital investments in 2014, with $19.8 billion going into 1,799 companies. The software percentage for this epic flood of cash was the highest since the inception of the MoneyTree Report in 1985.
But gone are the days when venture capital deals were about investing in companies based on 10 to 12 times “projected future profits.” Hedge funds have recently been paying 15 to 18 times “projected future sales” in recent venture capital funding rounds.
Examples of recent unicorn venture capital tech deals include online scrapbooking startup Pinterest Inc., which raised $367 million this month, valuing the company at $11 billion. The company achieved that without any visible source of revenue, since it does not profit from taking ad money. Co-founder Ben Silbermann must have been riding his unicorn when he blog-posted, “Nobody’s paying for anything yet—we want to see how things go and, more than anything, hear what you think.”
Profitless companies like Snapchat, the mobile application famous for sending disappearing sexting photos, is valued at about $15 billion and Uber, the potentially illegal ride-sharing app, has seen its valuation climb more than tenfold since the middle of 2013 to $40 billion in December 2014.
In analyzing the financial rewards of venture capital companies going public, Breitbart News has warned that the number of initial public offerings going public at lower valuations than their previous private venture rounds rose 57%–from 18 of 106 new IOPs in 2013, to 44 out of 165 IPOs in 2014. Even more worrisome, these losses came at a time when the technology stock index for public companies was skyrocketing.
It is my best estimate that about $35 billion has flowed into 3,000 of the type of Internet-specific and other software companies that dominate Silicon Valley since 2013. Since Silicon Valley “doesn’t do dividends” and its tech companies are not expected to make profits, the main “liquidity event” to reward venture capital investors is an IPO.
There are dozens of tech companies whispering that they are planning to go public. But with the IPO window closing, tens of billions of venture capital investments in Silicon Valley are now at risk of being wiped out.