Three VC firms — Sequoia, NEA, and Accel — are consistently in the top 5 when it comes to participation in the 100-largest tech startup exits.

Which venture capital firms are seeing the most big exits, and how are those names changing with time?

We analyzed the top 100 tech exits over two separate periods using CB Insights data. The first period covered Q3’09 to Q4’12 and the second period starts in Q1’13 and ends in the most recent quarter, Q2’15. We compiled a list of investors with at least five of the top 100 exits in each period, and ranked them according to how many of these exits they were involved in.

When analyzing the rankings, a few interesting points emerge:

  • Sequoia, NEA, and Accel were in the top five in both periods. Sequoia was first in the earlier period, with involvement in 20 of the top 100 exits, but fell to third place with 11 of the top exits in the later period. Accel Partners was in second place in the earlier span at 11 exits, and replaced Sequoia in the top spot in the second period, with involvement in 14 of the top exits. New Enterprise Associate had 9 top exits in the first period, and 11 in the second.
  • 11 VC firms were top investors during both time-ranges, including Kleiner Perkins, Redpoint Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, and Battery Ventures.
  • This data is evidence of consistency in VC performance. Since there were 29 unique VCs across the two lists and 11 VCs that placed on both lists, more than one-third of the 29 firms managed to back at least five of the top 100 tech exits in each 2.5-year period.
  • 10 VC firms (out of 21) were new to the list during the Q1’13 to Q2’15 timespan. These included Sapphire Ventures (formerly SAP Ventures), which was in the fourth spot, having invested in 10 of the top 100 exits of the period including those of FitBit, Virtustream, Box, and OnDeck Capital. Other new VCs include Insight Venture Partners, Felicis Ventures, and General Catalyst Partners.
Global Tech Exits: IPOs and M&As for 2016
The 2016 global technology exits webinar will cover M&A and IPO trends over the past few years and highlight global venture-backed exit trends as well as the most active tech startup acquirers in 2016. 

Here are the full lists of the VC investors with at least 5 of the top 100 tech exits during these time periods:

Top Investors VC Power Law

 

Why is it important for VCs to find their way into the top exits (as opposed to the highest number of overall exits)? As prominent investors like Peter Thiel and Chris Dixon have pointed out, a small percentage of top companies and their exits drive the returns for most of the industry.

We put together some stats about the top exits for context. While the aggregate value of exits during the first period was larger than the combined value in the latter period ($207B vs. $137B), over half of the first period’s exit value came from Facebook’s giant $104B IPO. Excluding Facebook’s IPO, the second period would have had a larger aggregate exit value than the first. The second-largest exit in the two time periods also involved Facebook: the company’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19B in 2014.

Some other interesting points that emerged from the full data for the 100 top exits.

  • The median exit valuation of the top 100 tech exits was nearly $100M higher in the second time-span compared to the first
  • Approximately a third of the top 100 tech exits are consumer companies, with the top 3 largest exits in both periods being consumer companies (Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga in the first period and Whatsapp, Twitter, and Zulily in the second)
  • The total number of VC investors in the top 100 tech exits has increased slightly, from 210 investors in the first period to 225 investors in the second
  • There were 24 $1B exits in the first period, compared to 32 in the second

Top 100 context info

When we plot out the top 100 exits over the two time periods, i.e. from Q3’09 to Q2’15, by exit value, the power law distribution becomes more clear. Facebook dominates the rest of the exits in terms of valuation. But a slight majority — 56 of the top 100 exits — took place between Q1’13 and Q2’15.

VC Power Law Exits

*Analysis only includes first exits. Debt and grant rounds were not included.

Want more data on the top exits? Check out our venture capital database below.