M&A 2010: Who Will The Buyers Be?

Confidence is a funny thing: Too little leads to low self-esteem, too much makes one arrogant.

When venture capitalists are confident, it means they expect their startups to outpace the growth in the overall market—a good thing for startups or a bad thing for the rest of the economy.

Mark Cannice has been tracking venture capitalist confidence for half a decade at the University of San Francisco’s School of Business and reports that venture capital confidence is slowly improving from its fourth quarter 2008 low. “Notable return of exit opportunities—especially headline acquisitions—is breathing life into the venture business model,” Canice says. (Read our earlier coverage).

That’s a sentiment that seems to be shared across the board. When the Venture Capital Journal surveyed investors for its January issue, it heard the same optimism for an M&A surge:

  • “M&A is back big time. Almost all the large acquirers sat on their hands during the downturn. That is done now,” says Mitchell Kertzman of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.
  • “The IPO and M&A markets will take off,” says Joey Lo of Venture Hype.
  • “M&A activity will be up significantly,” says Skip Simms of the Michigan Pre-seed Capital Fund.
  • “There will be many premium M&A exits,” says Sandy Miller of Institutional Venture Partners.
  • “Mergers and acquisitions are back!” says Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC.

Okay, fine. But who will be in the market buying? Take our 20-second survey.