Turmoil in the stock market has frozen initial public offerings by technology companies and could harm development and job growth, National Venture Capital Association President Mark Heesen warned.
A record number of U.S. companies want to go public, Heesen told IBTimes. But the IPO market essentially shut down six weeks ago.
With IPOs for well-known companies like Groupon, Zynga and lesser-known Vocera Communications and MA/COM languishing in registration, Heesen said that's sent a damaging signal to the venture capital industry.
Next week, when we report third-quarter statistics, they will be the worst we've reported in years, he said during an interview in New York. In the second quarter, the venture capital group reported the sector had taken in $2.7 billion in new capital, up 28 percent from 2010, but that the number of funds taking in new capital fell 25 percent.
Heesen declined to preview the statistics, which are schedule for release by the Arlington, Va.-based national venture group on Monday.
The companies that have filed for IPOs really want to go public, he said, preferring that for themselves as well as for their venture capital investors seeking an exit. If the market doesn't improve, they may be forced to rely more on being acquired by cash-laden technology buyers.
Heesen acknowledged the same strategy might apply for Facebook, which under federal law must begin filing financial reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission next quarter because it now has more than 500 shareholders.
Investment bankers have suggested Facebook might seek to acquire Yahoo in a so-called reverse takeover, thereby acquiring a public listing. Heesen acknowledged the speculation but declined comment.
Facebook's venture capital investors include Accel Partners and Meritech Capital partners, along with corporate investors including Microsoft, Digital Sky Technologies and Goldman Sachs. Current Facebook shareholders can cash out in a private, secondary market which was the apparent source for CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to the Newark, N.J., school system last year.
Perhaps because of its Facebook success, Accel Partners was the most successful fundraiser in the second quarter, netting a total of $1.35 billion for two separate funds --- or half the entire national total.
Heesen told IBTimes that may endanger smaller, lesser-known venture capital firms as well as specialized regional firms that want to seed local companies.
The IPO freeze, Heesen said, may also impact job creation because the start-up companies grow quickly and expand their payrolls. A new Web site, StartUpHire, now has about 19,000 jobs for technical professionals, many from venture-backed companies.
These 19,000 jobs are not being filled right now, Heesen told IBTimes.
The site is linked to President Obama's StartUpAmerica job creation program and has received funding from the National Venture Capital Association, big law and accounting firms as well as Comerica Bank and the National Science Foundation.
Despite the official's pessimism, there have been several successful IPOs this year, although their performance has been mixed. Social networker LinkedIn, now valued around $7.5 billion, has declined 17 percent since its May IPO. Pandora Media, valued around $2.1 billion, has fallen 26 percent since its June debut.