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Originally published July 18, 2013 at 9:05 PM | Page modified July 19, 2013 at 10:49 AM

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Quarterly reports mixed on state VC investing

Depending on which analyst report is in the spotlight, venture investments in Washington state went up or went down in the second quarter from levels last year.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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As venture-capital funding continues to decline, two quarterly reports are presenting something of a mixed picture of second-quarter investment, with one saying it’s up and the other saying it’s down.

Venture capitalists invested $207.6 million in Washington state startups in the past three months, a 10 percent uptick from a year ago, according to the MoneyTree report being released Friday by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

The report, based on data from Thomson Reuters, said Washington outpaced the national average in investment — roughly $133.5 million per state — and in number of deals, 27 to a national average of 18 per state.

VC investment nationwide dipped 9 percent from a year ago to $6.7 billion, according to the MoneyTree report, while the number of deals decreased 5 percent to 913.

The other report, released Thursday by Dow Jones VentureSource, said venture-capital investment in the state had fallen roughly 8 percent year-over-year.

Investment firms put $280.5 million into the state in the second quarter of this year, down from $306.4 million in the second quarter of 2012, according to Dow Jones, even as more deals were struck, 32 vs. 29.

The decrease in investment reflects a nationwide drop in fundraising and investment, the Dow Jones report said. Fundraising was down 3 percent from a year ago to $6.8 billion, and investing dipped 19 percent to $7.2 billion, according to the Dow Jones report.

Discrepancies between the findings of the two reports stem from differing methodologies and definitions used by the competing analysis firms.

The investment boost reported by MoneyTree in Washington was a welcome change from the previous quarter, in which investment tumbled 65.5 percent year-over-year, said Stephen Sommerville, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He cited strengths in Washington’s software, mobile software, gaming, biotech and medical-device markets and said they help put the state in the upper echelon, the top five or six, of those states receiving venture-capital cash.

Software, biotechnology and Internet-specific firms received a combined $5.3 billion across nearly 700 deals nationwide, the MoneyTree report said.

Sommerville said he was “encouraged” by an increase in first-time financing in fledgling startups. First-time funding jumped 24 percent nationally to $1.1 billion from the previous quarter, and this quarter’s average first-time deal was $3.7 million, according to the MoneyTree report.

“What you like to see is big bets being placed on promising companies,” he said, which leads to a “robust” venture-capital market.

Sommerville added that more companies are going public, particularly in biotech, than in the past several years. This is good for the market, he said, since initial public offerings provide a payout for venture-capital firms and a barometer of how well they’ve invested their startup dollars.

Across the Northwest, venture-capital funding increased 12 percent from a year ago, as firms distributed $222.8 million in 35 deals this quarter, according to MoneyTree.

“From the big-picture perspective, it was a good quarter,” Sommerville said.

Colin Campbell: 206-464-2033 or ccampbell@seattletimes.com

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