While 2009 continued a downward trend as one of the worst recessions in U.S. history, the decline for venture-backed mergers and acquisitions has not been as severe as the dot-com bust in 2001 and 2002.
New figures from the National Venture Capital Association show that in the last quarter of 2009, M&A hit $7.8 billion, up from the previous year's mark of just over $2 billion. Overall, 2009's total of $12.6 billion could not match 2008's $13.6 billion total.
Mergers and acquisitions totaled over $68 billion in 2000, only to fall below $8 billion by 2002 following the bursting of the dot-com bubble. In contrast, 2007's M&A total of $29 billion has declined to just over $12 billion in 2009 - a much more smooth rate of decay which has begun to flatten out.
Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA, says they expect to see continued improvement throughout 2010. "Clearly, we have a long way to go towards a full recovery but we are encouraged by the increasing acquisition values and the number of companies that have filed a registration with the SEC to go public," he says.
A late boost in the fourth quarter of 2009 has helped startups from reliving the experiences from earlier in the decade, the largest of which came from Amazon's July purchase of Internet shoe seller Zappos for $930 million. This acquisition helped internet specific purchases climb to $2.2 billion in Q4 2009 - a near seven-fold increase from 2008's final quarter.