Rewind 2014: Most active VC firms

Venture capital (VC) firms in India ran helter-skelter to ink deals after a few strategic exits in 2013 opened up the liquidity window and validated the opportunity to not just invest but make money out of backing Indian startups. Indeed, all the top five most active VC firms in the country last year sewed close to 

one-and-a-half-dozen deals, including a few abroad, as per data collated by VCCEdge, the data research platform of VCCircle.

The listing below takes a look only at the most active VC firms by the number of deals struck last year as many transactions involved club deals with multiple investors and typically the breakup of the money invested in was not disclosed. It, however, does not include some transactions where Indian ventures raised PE funding round with participation of some of these VC firms.

Moreover, it includes some deals where Indian VC firms invested in entirely overseas firms. It also counts multiple investment rounds by the same VC in the same portfolio firm as separate transactions.

In particular, the list of top five VC firms by deal volume saw Sequoia climbing up the ranks to take the pole position ahead of last year's leader Blume Ventures.

Those missed the top five list but were just behind in the list include Kalaari Capital, Matrix Partners, Tiger Global and Intel Capital.

Here is a look at the most active VC firms of the year:

Sequoia Capital – 25 deals

Sequoia Capital has been one of the most consistent and prolific VC firms in India over the past many years and last year was no exception. It maintained its focus on consumer internet and other technology companies and also clocked several exits. Besides its investments in Indian ventures, it backed Singapore's Carousell, Indonesian e-com marketplace Tokopedia and Swedish venture TrueCaller.

Sequoia invested in firms like Fashionandyou, Zomato, Olacabs, Knowlarity, Capillary, ZoomCar, Druva Software, Octro, Tinyowl, Grofers and Akosha among others in the tech space. In the non-tech field it backed names like Koye Pharma and Indigo Paints among others.

Four of its portfolio companies – What's On India, Bubbly, Dexetra and Sourcebits –  were acquired in strategic deals. It also harvested some of the gains of one its biggest successful investments when it part-exited from local business classifieds firm JustDial. It scored over 30x on its original investment in 2009.

Blume Ventures - 19 

Seed-stage fund Blume Ventures has been the most aggressive early stage investor since 2011, leading the charts consistently, but slipped to the number 2 spot last year. This was not because it slowed down its own investments but simply due to far more aggressive moves by Sequoia. Indeed, Blume struck almost the same number of deals as the previous year as it came close to exhausting the corpus of Rs 100 crore from its maiden fund. Even though the size of its investments is relatively smaller compared with other funds on the list, it has been consistently closing new deals.

The companies it invested last year include TaxiForSure, VoxPopClothing, Zopper, HashCube, Instamojo, Railyatri and Covacsis.

Blume—which saw its maiden exit in 2013 when Mumbai-based Spunk Media Pvt Ltd, which runs the online mobile billing aggregator Qubecell, was acquired by San Fransisco-based mobile payments company Boku—clocked a few more exits. Its portfolio firm RupeeStreet was acquired by Times Internet; SkoolShop was snapped by HopScotch and Aurality was acquired by GCI.

Helion Venture Partners - 19

Helion truly ramped up its activity in 2014 and was jointly at the number two spot along with Blume. It backed names like TaxiForSure, Housing, Yepme, BigBasket, Indiahomes, Pubmatic and Jivox among others. It also co-invested in Qwikcilver along with Amazon among others.

In the non-tech field it invested in Shubham Housing Finance, ID Fresh Foods and dental chain Dentys.

From an exit standpoint, however, it was a relatively quiet year for Helion after 2013 when three of its portfolio firms were acquired. The sole exit was when Rdio bought Dhingana.

Accel Partners - 17

While its showcase investment Flipkart continued to touch new highs roping in new investors and pushing Accel as a small shareholder, Accel maintained its faith in other Indian ventures.

Even as a good chunk of its investments were in existing portfolio firms where it put in more money, the new companies backed by Accel during the year include retail search engine Zettata and subscription billing service provider BubblePath, WizRocket and Teaexpress among others.

It also made follow-on investments in names like TaxiForSure, Freshdesk, Bluestone, Qwikcilver, Hotelogix among others.

Nexus Venture Partners - 16

Year 2014 has been another big year for Nexus Venture Partners. While the previous year too several of its portfolio companies saw large follow-on rounds from other investors, last year it took to an entirely different level thanks to its showcase investment in Snapdeal. SoftBank coming in as the latest investor took the total money raised by the firm to close to $1 billion across three rounds last year itself.

The bulk of its investment involved 

follow-on rounds of funding in which Nexus Venture Partners also participated.

It re-invested in Gurgaon-based logistics company SSN Logistics Pvt Ltd, which runs the web platform Delhivery.com; realty portal Housing.co.in, started by a group of IIT Bombay students, among others.

Some of Nexus’ new investments include mobile ordering venture Tinyowl besides Big Data powered marketing solutions firm Blueshift.

In terms of exits again it clocked a strategic sale of a portfolio firm when Tribune snapped What's on India. In 2013, web giant Yahoo Inc acquired Astrid, a task and to-do list mobile app backed by Nexus Venture Partners.

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