Home / Tech / Private equity has become a big player in the startup market. Here are the 10 biggest startup acquisitions PE firms have made in the last 3 years. (CHWY)

Private equity has become a big player in the startup market. Here are the 10 biggest startup acquisitions PE firms have made in the last 3 years. (CHWY)

Chewy CEO Sumit Singh is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of the Chewy Inc. IPO in New York City, U.S., June 14, 2019.

  • Private equity firms have become major players in the startup market.
  • Last year, 20% of all startups that had a successful exit — meaning they either went public or were acquired — were bought in a private equity-related deal.
  • Startups still see lots more money from IPOs and corporate acquisitions than from private equity deals, but PE firms are spending increasing amounts.
  • The top 10 biggest private equity purchases of startups are listed below.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

The vast majority of startups don’t go public. They get acquired — assuming they don’t go out of business first.

Traditionally, the acquirers of venture-backed startups have been other, independent companies in the same industry, whether they are established players or other startups. But more and more startups these days are being acquired by private equity firms.

Last year, about 20% of all startups that had a successful exit — meaning they were either acquired or went public — were purchased either directly by a private equity firm or by a company that was owned by one, according to PitchBook. That was up from just 5% in 2003.

Startup backers still see lots more money from the public markets and corporate buyers than they do from private equity firms. But the amounts that PE firms are spending on startups is steadily increasing and in some cases has gotten quite large.

Last year, such firms spent $6.3 billion buying up startups — up from $690 million seven years earlier. And three private equity buyouts over the three years topped $1 billion.

Here, according to PitchBook, are the 10 largest private equity purchases of startups over the last three years:

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10. Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners — Cologix, $500 million

Startup: Cologix
Headquarters: Denver
Industry: IT Services — Data center provider
Number of venture rounds: 3
Venture equity capital raised: $43.9 million
Pre-acquisition debt raised: $375 million

Acquirer: Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners
Closing Date: March 21, 2017
Amount: $500 million

Sources: PitchBook, Cologix

9. Lithium Technologies (owned by Vista Equity partners) — Spredfast, $540 million

Startup: Spredfast
Headquarters: San Francisco
Industry: Digital marketing, customer relationship management
Number of venture rounds: 7
Venture equity capital raised: $140.3 million

Acquirer: Lithium Technologies
Private-equity backer: Vista Equity Partners
Name of successor startup: Khoros
Closing Date: October 2, 2018
Amount: $540 million

Sources: PitchBook, Khoros

8. Blackstone — Vungle, $750 million

Startup: Vungle
Headquarters: San Francisco
Industry: Mobile advertising
Number of venture rounds: 3
Venture equity capital raised: $27.4 million

Acquirer: Blackstone
Closing Date: September 30, 2019
Amount: $750 million

Sources: PitchBook, Vungle

7. Navicure (owned by Bain Capital) — ZirMed, $750 million

Startup: ZirMed
Headquarters: Louisville, Kentucky
Industry: Healthcare billing software
Number of venture rounds: 2
Venture equity capital raised: Not disclosed

Acquirer: Navicure
Private-equity backer: Bain Capital
Name of successor startup: Waystar
Closing Date: November 1, 2017
Amount: $750 million

Sources: PitchBook, Waystar

6. Insight Partners — Recorded Future, $780 million

Startup: Recorded Future
Headquarters: Somerville, Mass.
Industry: Cybersecurity
Number of venture rounds: 5
Venture equity capital raised: $59 million

Acquirer: Insight Partners
Closing Date: May 30, 2019
Amount: $780 million

Sources: PitchBook, Recorded Future

5. Vista Equity Partners— Wrike, $800 million

Startup: Wrike
Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.
Industry: Project management software
Number of venture rounds: 4
Venture equity capital raised: $36.6 million
Pre-acquisition debt raised: $10 million

Acquirer: Vista Equity Partners
Closing Date: November 29, 2018
Amount: $800 million

Sources: PitchBook, Wrike

4. Vista Equity Partners — Integral Ad Science, $835 million

Startup: Integral Ad Science
Headquarters: New York
Industry: Digital advertising analytics
Number of venture rounds: 6
Venture equity capital raised: $81.3 million
Pre-acquisition debt raised: $14.2 million

Acquirer: Vista Equity Partners
Closing Date: July 1, 2018
Amount: $835 million

Sources: PitchBook, Integral Ad Science

3. Vista Equity Partners — Acquia, $1 billion

Startup: Acquia
Headquarters: Boston
Industry: Content management software and hosting service
Number of venture rounds: 10
Venture equity capital raised: $194 million

Acquirer: Vista Equity Partners
Closing Date: November 1, 2019
Amount: $1 billion

Sources: PitchBook, Acquia

2. Thoma Bravo — ConnectWise, $1.5 billion

Startup: ConnectWise
Headquarters: Tampa, Fla.
Industry: IT services
Number of venture rounds: 0 (Bootstrapped)

Acquirer: Thoma Bravo
Closing Date: February 28, 2019
Amount: $1.5 billion

Sources: PitchBook, ConnectWise

1. PetSmart (owned by BC Partners) — Chewy, $3.4 billion

Startup: Chewy
Headquarters: Dania Beach, Fla.
Industry: Pet supply online retailer
Number of venture rounds: 3
Venture equity capital raised: $286 million

Acquirer: PetSmart
Private-equity backer: BC Partners
Closing Date: May 31, 2017
Amount: $3.4 billion

Sources: PitchBook, Chewy

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