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January 18, 2024
1 min read

Secondary Startup Market Thrives: Investors Cash in on Selling

TL;DR:

Investment firms are raising billions of dollars to purchase stakes in venture capital-backed tech startups through the secondary startup market. With the slow down in startup funding, the secondary market — where investors and employees buy and sell shares in private companies — is becoming increasingly important. Secondary market specialist Lexington Partners recently raised nearly $23 billion fund to purchase stakes from “large-scale investors.” Last year, venture capital fundraising in the US fell to its lowest level in six years, down 50% compared to the previous year.

Investment firms are reportedly raising billions to purchase stakes in venture capital (VC)-backed tech startups. “The main exit for VCs is primarily IPOs and M&A [mergers and acquisitions], and neither of those are happening,” Tom Callahan, chief executive of Nasdaq Private Market, told the Financial Times (FT) Wednesday (Jan. 17). “It creates this immense pressure . . . [and] incredible opportunities for investors coming in and buying companies at deep discounts.”

The report said the startup secondary market — where investors and employees buy and sell shares in private companies, often to the tune of tens of billions of dollars — is becoming more and more important as startup funding slows. For example, secondary market specialist Lexington Partners recently announced a nearly $23 billion fund to purchase stakes from “large-scale investors.”

According to the FT, the secondary market has seen massive growth in the last decade and has helped startup employees whose stock has floundered without an IPO. Both SpaceX and OpenAI have arranged secondary-market stock sales in the last year, the report said. Last year saw venture capital fundraising in the US fall to its lowest level in six years: $67 billion, which was down 50% compared to the year before.

“A good valuation does not make a good investment,” Raza said. He also noted that the profile of founders has changed as well, with Exponent now encountering more experienced executives running startups. “The founders now are customer-centric, product-centric and are saying ‘this is going to be my life’s work and journey for the next 20 years,” Raza said.

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