Venture Capital Investing Climbs to $4.73 Billion via Private Placement

Venture capital investment increased to $4.73 billion in the first quarter from a year earlier, a sign of growing interest in startups that specialize in clean energy.

Firms invested in 681 deals during the quarter, the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers reported. That’s an increase from $3.36 billion in the same period a year earlier, though lower than $5.18 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Nine startups backed by U.S. venture firms went public in the first quarter, up from none in the same period a year earlier, the association said April 1. The 111 acquisitions of startups during the quarter were the highest ever, the association said.

Half of the quarter’s top 10 deals went to companies focused on clean energy, the association said. The biggest was $115.3 million for Fisker Automotive Inc., an Irvine, California-based electric-car maker.

Efficient Lighting

BridgeLux Inc., which makes lighting systems that use less electricity than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, raised $60 million. Overall, clean technology firms raised $773 million, an 87 percent increase from the fourth quarter.

The biggest declines came in software and biotechnology, the association said. The number of software deals was the lowest in any quarter since 1995, the year Netscape Communications Corp. went public.

The rapid growth of mobile Internet companies and social networking will spur a pickup in information technology deals later this year, said Bill Wiberg, a partner at Advanced Technology Ventures in Waltham, Massachusetts.

“The pace of investing is picking up, and it may not be fully reflected in the first-quarter data,” Wiberg said on a conference call. “Mobile Internet usage will surpass personal- computer Internet usage, and that will present many opportunities.”

By Tim Mullaney, Bloomberg:

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