According to a recent article in PitchBook, VCs are making fewer investments in early-stage entities, and the entities themselves are extending their time to an exit event.
Whether the ultimate exit is via acquisition, buyout or IPO, the median time from for VC financing to exit appears to be trending upward. The article suggests that the primary reason for the delay in the exit process is because the companies themselves are choosing to stay private for longer periods.
The analysis has implications beyond just VCs and early-stage entities, and extends to valuation professionals and auditors. Often, the expected time to an exit event and the type of exit itself (e.g., IPO, acquisition) are key assumptions in the valuation process. Getting these assumptions right requires an understanding not only of a specific company's plans and rationale, but also of the potential impact of external market factors and trends.
The accompanying article provides current information that may help support these valuation assumptions.
Opting to raise more funds rather than prioritizing an exit seems to be an increasingly popular route for startups. According to data from the 2Q PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, the number of US venture capital investments for every VC-backed exit reached a record high in the first half of 2017—landing at 11.3x. For the 3,917 VC investments completed in 1H, there were just 348 exits.