Data spotlight: LinkedIn’s purchase lifts M&A total in May

Despite the largest deal year-to-date closing recently, venture-backed M&A activity remains tepid in 2015.

In May, the most recent full month for which figures were available, 19 VC-backed, U.S.-based companies were acquired. And of those, only three disclosed values for a total of more than $1.6 billion. Much of that was for one deal, the purchase of Lynda.Com Inc by LinkedIn Corp for $1.5 billion.

LinkedIn announced earlier this year that it would pay about 52 percent in cash and 48 percent in stock for the online education company.

Through the first five months of the year, 133 venture-backed companies have been acquired, with 26 disclosing valuations for a combined $5.9 billion. In comparison, during the same period in 2014, 181 VC-backed, U.S.-based companies were purchased then, with 54 disclosing price for a combined $10.7 billion in value. However, last year’s totals were offset by the $3.2 billion purchase of Nest Labs and the $1.5 million acquisition of Air Watch.

The acquisition of Lynda by LinkedIn is the social networking company’s largest to date. LinkedIn has acquired a dozen VC-backed companies since 2010, according to Thomson Reuters. Its next largest purchase was the $175 million it paid to buy online B2B marketing company Bizo in 2014.

With Lynda, LinkedIn is betting that the company’s courses for teaching languages and others skills will help bolster its hiring business, as it anticipates Lynda’s services will help LinkedIn users see what expertise they need to improve for the jobs they covet.

Before it was scooped up, Carpinteria, Calif.-based Lynda had raised $289 million in capital from Accel PartnersMeritech Capital PartnersSpectrum Equity and TPG Capital Management, according to Thomson Reuters.

It is the second company LinkedIn has purchased this year. In April, LinkedIn acquired mobile app developer Refresh for an undisclosed price. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Refresh had raised $9.5 million from CRV, Foundation Capital and Redpoint Ventures.

Other notable stats from the May list of the 19 venture-backed, U.S.-based M&A deals during the month:

  • Five of the companies, or one of out of four, were in life sciences or healthcare, although none disclosed their purchase prices.
  • A total of 10 of the companies are based in California. Four companies came from Massachusetts.
  • Lynda, with $289 million in funding, was the acquired company with the most backing. Next up was San Mateo, Calif.-based Cloud9 Analytics Inc, which raised more than $104 million in funding from Crosspoint Venture PartnersInterWest PartnersLeapfrog Ventures and Mayfield Fund, among others, and which InsideSales bought for an undisclosed sum.
  • For the second consecutive month, Salesforce, which was briefly rumored to be the target of a takeover bid by Oracle or Microsoft, purchased a VC-backed company. In May, it bought Mountain View, Calif.-based Tempo AI, which was born out of the research lab SRI International and which Salesforce is planning to shut down on June 30. The acquisition price was not disclosed. 
  • Lerer Hippeau Ventures was an investor in two companies that were bought in May: Shift Labs Inc, which was bought for $50 million and Publicstuff Inc, which was purchased for an undisclosed amount.