10 Largest VC-Backed M&A Exits of 2009

Earlier this week, Google agreed to buy mobile advertising network AdMob for $750 million in stock. Huge deal, but not actually the year’s largest sale of a VC-backed company (it’s third).

That’s right, it’s time for a list of the 15 largest VC-backed M&A exits of 2009. A deal needn’t have closed yet to qualify, but the rankings only include up-front payments (e.g., EA deal for Playfish is considered $300m instead of $400m). Here you go:

1. Zappos.com — $928 million
Amazon.com agreed in July to buy online shoe retailer Zappos.com, for approximately $928 million. The deal was mostly in Amazon stock, with around $40 million of cash thrown in. Zappos had raised over $49 million in VC funding, from firms like Sequoia Capital, Draper Richards, Venture Frogs and Millennium Technology Ventures.

2. Starent Networks — $779 million
Cisco Systems last month agreed to buy wireless telecom equipment maker Starent Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: STAR), which still included VC shareholders Matrix Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners and Highland Capital Partners. The $35 per share deal valued Starent at around $2.9 billion, with the VC firms’ combined stake coming in at around $779 million (according to share ownership data from a January proxy statement).

3. AdMob — $750 million
Google this week agreed to buy AdMob for $750 million in stock. The mobile advertising network had raised over $46 million in VC funding, from firms like Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital and DFJ Growth Fund.

4. CoreValve — $700 million
Medtronic Inc. in February agreed to acquire CoreValve, an Irvine, Calif.-based maker of medical devices for percutaneous heart valve replacement. The deal include a $700 million up-front payment, plus the possibility of milestone-based earnouts. CoreValve had raised around $63 million in VC funding, from firms like Apax Partners, HealthCap, Maverick Capital and Sofinnova Partners.

5. Pure Digital Technologies — $590 million
Cisco Systems in March agreed to buy Pure Digital Technologies, a San Francisco–based maker of “flip” digital camcorders. The deal was valued at $590 million in stock, plus up to $15 million in retention-based incentives for Pure Digital employees. Pure Digital had raised around $95 million in VC funding from Benchmark Capital, Crescendo Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Steamboat Ventures, AllianceBernstein, Morgan Stanley Private Equity, Focus Ventures, Samsung and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

6. WildBlue Communications — $568 million
ViaSat Inc. last month agreed to acquire  WildBlue Communications Inc., a Denver-based provider of broadband Internet-over satellite services in rural America. The deal was valued at $568 million, including $443 million of cash and $125 million of ViaSat stock. WildBlue has raised nearly $400 million in private equity funding, including a $50 million infusion in September 2008. Backers include Liberty Media, Intelsat, the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers.

7. SpringSource — $420 million
VMWare Inc. agreed in August to buy SpringSource Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based maker of software for building and managing the enterprise Java application lifecycle, for $420 million.  SpringSource has raised around $46 million in VC funding since 2007, from firms like Accel Partners, Bay Partners, Benchmark Capital and DAG Ventures.

8. Data Domain — $406 million
EMC earlier this year agreed to buy data storage company Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP), whose sharehlders still included VC firms like New Enterprise Associates and Greylock PArtners. The $33.50 per share bid valued Data Domain at approximately $2.4 billion, with the VC firms’ stake coming in at around $406 million (according to the latest proxy statement).

9. LifeSize Communications — $405 million
Logitech International this week agreed to acquire LifeSize Communications, an Austin, Texas-based provider of high-definition video communication solutions, for $405 million in cash. LifeSize had raised around $90 million in VC funding, from firms like Austin Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures and Tenaya Capital.

10. Visiogen Inc. — $400 million
Abbott Labs in September has agreed to acquire Visiogen Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based developer of products for cataract and refractive patients, for $400 million in cash. Visiogen had raised around $97 million in VC funding since 2001, from firms like Three Arch Partners, New Leaf Venture Partners, Novartis Venture Fund, Prospect Venture Partners, CMEA Capital, Technology Partners and Foundation Medical Partners.

11 (why not?): Athenix Inc. — $365 million
Bayer CropScience in August agreed to buy Athenix Inc., a Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based developer of products and technologies for agricultural and industrial applications like biofuels. The deal included a $365 million up-front payment, plus up to $35 million in additional earn-out payments. Athenix had raised more than $40 million in VC funding, from firms like Hunt Ventures, Intersouth Partners and Polaris Venture Partners.