Our friends over at Go4Venture recently sent out their 2007 Headline Transaction Index with some interesting historical stats about European tech investment activity. Based on a comparison of the 2007 deal list with previous years, they conclude -- much as I recently commented anecdotally here -- that European tech investing has matured. The main corroborating fact they point to is the number of €20m+ financings, which by their count topped 22 in 2007 (up from 15 in each of 2006 and 2005).
Go4Venture concludes: "This reflects European VCs growing taste for high risk/high reward transactions, which is closer to the behaviour of their Silicon Valley brethren." I disagree. There are really two trends here:
- Large, speculative investments in early-stage companies: Joost, DailyMotion, VideoJug, Viagogo for example.
- Growth financings of more mature companies: Jentro, FastBooking, PlasticLogic, Cordys, etc.
The latter predominate in the list of 22 deals, reflecting not a higher risk appetite by Euro VCs, but rather the availability of capital for companies in more advanced stages of development. These deals were made possible by new growth equity-focused funds and the presence of tech buyout investors, and they represent the maturation of the investment industry I have been talking about.
As for the deals being tracked by Go4Venture, I would add a few non-traditional tech deals (including some buyouts) in order to really see the trend over the years. Other "Landmark" (>€20m) financings include:
- 2007: Moneybookers (Investcorp), Human Inference (Iris, GIMV), Asset Control (Fidelity), Vente-Privee (Summit)
- 2006: FRSGLobal (Carlyle, Kennet), UC4 (Carlyle), GlobalMedia (Carlyle), IGEFI (Summit)
- 2005: Jagex (Insight), GFI (Insight), Control Break (Summit), Navigon (General Atlantic), Webpay (3i)
- 2004: Ubizen (Apax, Kennet), Web Reservations Int'l (Summit), Kingston Inmedia (Carlyle), P&I (Carlyle), Iris Software (HgCapital)