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Fenwick & West's Silicon Valley Venture Capital Survey Reveals Valuations Weakening in Fourth Quarter of 2008

March 2, 2009 (Mountain View and San Francisco, CA) - Fenwick & West LLP, one of the nation's premier law firms providing comprehensive legal services to technology and life sciences clients, today announced results of its Fourth Quarter 2008 Silicon Valley Venture Capital Survey.

The survey analyzed the valuations and terms of venture financings for 128 technology and life sciences companies headquartered in the greater Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area which reported raising capital in the fourth quarter of 2008.

"During the fourth quarter, up rounds exceeded down rounds 54% to 33% with 13% flat, the lowest amount by which up rounds exceeded down rounds since the third quarter of 2004," said Barry Kramer, partner in the firm and co-author of the survey. "Perhaps more ominously," he said, "down rounds increased each month through the quarter, and for December 2008, 45% of all financings were down rounds, compared to 48% up and 7% flat."

An up round is one in which the price per share at which a company sells its stock has increased since its prior financing round. Conversely, a down round is one in which the price per share has declined since a company's prior financing round.

Kramer noted that a breakdown of fourth quarter financings by industry disclosed that Web 2.0/digital media was the strongest industry. When Web 2.0/digital media companies are excluded from the results, up rounds decreased to 46%, down rounds increased to 39%, and 15% of the rounds were flat.

The Fenwick & West Venture Capital Barometer™ – which measures the change in share price of Bay Area companies funded during the quarter compared with the share price of their previous financing round – showed a 25% average price increase for the quarter.

"This represents a significant decline from the 55% reported in the previous quarter and the lowest quarterly total since the first quarter of 2005," said Michael Patrick, survey co-author and also a partner in the firm.

"If Web 2.0/digital media financings were factored out, the Venture Capital Barometer would have been flat," said Patrick.

Life Sciences Survey

Fenwick & West today also announced the results of its 2008 Life Sciences Venture Capital Valuation Survey, which also showed a weakening in valuations in the life sciences venture environment.

The survey was based on the venture financings of 81 life sciences companies headquartered in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area that reported raising money during calendar year 2008.

Up rounds outpaced down rounds 59% to 22% for life sciences company financings in 2008, with 19% of the financings flat.

"This was a significant decline from both 2007 and 2006 as 79% of the financings were up rounds in both of those years," said Kramer. "Perhaps more importantly, the percentage of up rounds declined as 2008 progressed, with down rounds exceeding up rounds 39% to 30% with 31% flat in the fourth quarter."

The Fenwick & West Life Sciences Barometer™ showed a 27% increase for life sciences companies raising funds in 2008, compared to such companies' prior financing round.

"This was a significant reduction from both 2007 and 2006, which were in the 45-50% range," said Kramer. "The Barometer declined throughout 2008, falling to -1% in the fourth quarter."

Complete results of both surveys with related discussion are posted on Fenwick & West's website.

About the Survey

The Fenwick & West Quarterly Venture Capital Survey and the Fenwick & West Life Sciences Venture Capital Valuation Survey, co-authored by law firm partners Barry J. Kramer and Michael J. Patrick, offer a unique view of the venture capital market in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area by providing insight into the changes in venture capital valuations and terms. Focusing exclusively on trends in venture financing and valuations, the Fenwick & West Surveys complement the economic data presented in the Dow Jones VentureSource Survey and the MoneyTree™ Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Association.

About Fenwick & West

Established in 1972, Fenwick & West LLP is one of the nation's premier law firms with extensive expertise in venture capital, public offerings and other corporate finance, joint ventures, M&A and strategic relationships, intellectual property, litigation and dispute resolution, taxation, antitrust and employment and labor law.


Barry J. Kramer
Fenwick & West LLP
Phone: 650.335.7278

Michael J. Patrick
Fenwick & West LLP
Phone: 650.335.7273

Richard Wood
Sand Hill Partners (for Fenwick & West LLP)
Phone: 650.631.0123