Q4 was another strong quarter for Nordic exits, only just failing to meet the same heights of Q3, as the final three months of the year saw 42 exits take place, totalling a (disclosed) $1.82 billion.
There were five IPOs in Q4, ending what was an incredibly strong year for Nordic tech companies going public. However, as ever, the majority of exits were traditional acquisitions.
Sweden’s dominance was almost challenged by Denmark in Q4, as a string of solid exits towards the end of 2016 saw Denmark start delivering on the increased capital its seen in the last few years, with a number of high-profile VC-backed exits including The Eye Tribe to Oculus (Facebook) and Wise.io to GE Digital. Denmark’s impressive number was also helped by three hosting companies exiting to the Belgian company Smart.
Norway and Finland recorded solid numbers, whereas Iceland’s solitary exit can’t really be celebrated, as bright-hope Plain Vanilla, creators of QuizUp, were sold off on the cheap to Glu Mobile.
Companies from within the region continued to be the biggest acquirers of its tech companies, and, as we’ve become accustomed to, companies from the United States and the United Kingdom followed. We’ve already name-dropped Facebook, but they weren’t the only tech giant buying Nordic in Q4, as Apple acquired Finnish company Indoor.io on the quiet.
After FinTech took the top spot for exits in Q3, normal service resumed in Q4, as Enterprise SaaS and E-Commerce recorded the most exits as the year drew to an end. Despite gaming investments slowing down in the region, we still see a strong representation of exits in the industry each quarter.
The metric we take the most notice of when we look at exits, took a healthy jump to the right in Q4, as 38.1% of the exits were VC-backed, which is up from 22.7% in Q3.
Although there was no increase in the number of exits in Q4, importantly there was an increase in VC-backed exits. This is significantly more important than the total number itself, as a lot of the exits that happen are from more traditional, older, corporate companies and although they are technically digital, they are not necessarily scalable, VC-cases.
Therefore, there will always be a proportion of “tech” exits that aren’t VC-backed, however, it’s still important for the region to see this percentage lessen, in order to continue to attract the levels of investment it is currently enjoying.
Moving into 2017, the fourth year of significant investment into the region, we should hope and expect to see these VC-backed exits increase even further, and it wouldn’t do any harm to see some $500 million+ ones happen as well to ensure confidence is kept high, although we expect Spotify to more than help with that.