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TOP FIVE DEALS OF 2009
The Top Five: Despite over 400 transactions in 2009, it wasn’t hard choosing our Top Five transactions for 2009 (with a little bit of massaging). Our Top Five transactions are: Facebook’s $200 million D round, Twitter’s $100 million E round, the $2.25 billion acquisition of Skype, the almost $1 billion in financing/M&A for Social Gaming companies (including Zynga, Playdom and Playfish), and the incredible per unique visitor value ascribed in the financing for location-based social networking company Gowalla.
• Facebook raises $200 million D round: In May 2009, Facebook announced a new financing round – raising $200 million from Digital Sky Technologies. The transaction gave Digital Sky a 1.96% stake, valuing Facebook at $10 billion. This financing brought the company’s total to $678.2 million. This was also the largest financing we recorded in 2009.
• Twitter raises $100 million E round: The third largest financing round in 2009 belonged to Twitter – a $100 million Series E in September 2009. The financing reportedly valued Twitter at $1 billion – a remarkable valuation for a company that has not yet formalized a revenue model! More recently, it has been reported that Twitter was actually profitable in 2009 due to the $25 million in search deals it signed in October with Google and Microsoft.
• Skype is acquired for $2.025 billion: By far the largest overall transaction in our database in 2009 was the acquisition of a majority position (65%) in Skype from eBay for $2.025 billion – announced in September 2009. The transaction was completed in November 2009. eBay had purchased Skype for $4.0 billion in 2005.
• Social Gaming financing activity reaches ~$1 billion (Zynga, Playfish, Playdom, etc.): Perhaps the hottest sector overall in 2009 was Social Gaming. This segment of the Web 2.0 market had the third highest number of deals (39) and generated almost $1 billion in financing/M&A activity – the second highest total overall (Figure 1). Three transactions in particular stand out in the social gaming space – the $400 million acquisition of Playfish (by Electronic Arts, November 2009), the $180 million financing of Zynga (Series C, December 2009, by Digital Sky), and the $43 million first round of financing for Playdom (New Enterprise lead, November 2009, Series A). There has been much speculation as to how the larger social gaming companies will proceed, with potential IPO or further strategic M&A most likely.
• Hottest new sector? Location-based social networks (Foursquare, Gowalla, etc.). Unique visitor value skyrockets: Financing activity for location-based social networks really heated up late in 2009. While the total financing raised in 2009 was quite small (~$15 million), the hype surrounding location-based SNS companies was substantial. In our opinion, this was highlighted by the $8.4 million December Series B financing for Gowalla. The reported valuation of $28.4 million implies a value of $568 for each of its 50,000 users (Figure 2). That compares to a $40 per user value we estimate for the Foursquare financing in September.