Editor’s Note: Crunchbase News has launched The Crunchbase Billion-Dollar Exits Board, a curated list of U.S. startup exits — IPOs, SPACS, mergers and acquisitions, and other deals — valued at $1 billion or more, powered by Crunchbase’s comprehensive data.
It’s somewhat difficult to imagine today, but just two short years ago the IPO markets were booming, and startup founders, investors and employees enjoyed liquidity like they’d never experienced before.
In fact, just in the U.S., 182 companies valued at $1 billion or more went public in 2021. Their collective value at their public debuts was $906 billion.
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But since then, billion-dollar exits have slowed dramatically. There were just 29 U.S. companies that exited in 2022 and counts have slowed to single digits per quarter. As IPOs and large M&A deals have waned, SPAC deals have dominated among startup exits.
That’s all from an analysis of the The Crunchbase Billion-Dollar Exits Board, our new list of large IPOs, mergers, acquisitions and other exit deals by U.S.-based startups.
Unprecedented year for startup exits
In 2021, we saw three of the largest seven U.S.-based exits by value since 2000: Coinbase, valued at $86 billion; Rivian at $66.5 billion; and UiPath at $35 billion. The values of the three companies have all fallen more than 75% since then.
The number of U.S. companies that went public in 2021 more than tripled year over year from 51 companies, and the aggregate value more than doubled from 2020’s $350 billion.
IPOs fall, SPACs rise
But as the markets turned, special-purpose acquisition company listings came to dominate in 2022. In 2021’s peak market, 83 SPAC mergers were listed, representing 46% of U.S.-based billion-dollar debuts.
In 2022, as the public markets slowed, SPAC listings numbered just 25 — but that marked 86% of all 29 public debuts.
So far in 2023, just two companies have gone public above $1 billion in value, both via SPACs: Chicago-based carbon capture company LanzaTech and Houston-based Intuitive Machines, a space exploration company.
Large M&A deals drop off
In line with IPO trends, the number of billion-dollar M&A deals were high in 2020 and in 2021, but fell in 2022.
In the market downturn, the gap between IPO exits and M&A narrowed in 2022.
In 2022, seven U.S. companies were acquired for more than $1 billion, compared to 28 companies in 2021 and 26 in 2020.
Will the IPO market rebound this year? If not, will SPACs continue their small resurgence? Will M&A play a bigger role in 2023? Follow along as we track the answers to these questions and more on the Billion-Dollar Exits Board.
If we are missing any companies, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Crunchbase Billion-Dollar Exits Board includes exits by U.S. venture-backed companies valued at $1 billion or more, starting in 2020.
This is distinct from The Crunchbase Unicorn Board, which tracks companies with private financing at a billion-dollar valuation. Many companies exit at over $1 billion without reaching unicorn status as a private company.
Companies are included on this list based on their IPO value or M&A deal price. After exiting, a company’s value could fall below $1 billion or could be delisted. We still keep the company on this list based on its date and value upon going public. Should a planned merger be canceled, the deal will be removed from this list.
We only include a company’s first exit. For example, Qualtrics was acquired in 2018 by SAP for $8 billion. Its subsequent IPO in January 2021 is not included on this list as the company had already exited.
All funding values are given in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. Crunchbase converts foreign currencies to U.S. dollars at the prevailing spot rate from the date funding rounds, acquisitions, IPOs and other financial events are reported. Even if those events were added to Crunchbase long after the event was announced, foreign currency transactions are converted at the historic spot price.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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