Q1 of this year brought us a record quarter for both the number of investments and the amount invested. This is all well and good, but is the continued increased interest and investments in the Nordic startup scene actually starting to provide a return for those who are backing the companies in the region? Well...
In Q1 2016, there were 34 tech exits in the Nordics, totalling a disclosed $1.27 billion
Before we get into the analysis itself, let's explain our methodology. We've included exits that (to our best knowledge) have completed, are tech, and that are headquartered in the Nordics. Therefore, although it was undoubtably the biggest exit in the region in Q1, Opera Software being acquired for $1.2 billion was not included in this analysis as the deal has not completed yet. It will be included in the quarter it completes.
As ever, there is always an exception to the rule, and in this case it is Tapad. Despite being based in the U.S, we have included it as a Norwegian exit due to the circumstances of the acquisition, including the fact that a Norwegian company bought it, and the founders were Norwegian, which most probably means the proceeds from this exit will end up in the Norwegian ecosystem in some shape or form.
As always, I am happy to receive any feedback, comments or questions on our methodology, at firstname.lastname@example.org. But for now, let's get on with the analysis.....
In terms of where they took place, all countries could claim to have had a good start to the year, apart from Iceland, perhaps.
As has been the case since the second half of 2015, Sweden recorded the majority of exits (14), continuing to demonstrate a good return for the increase in capital there. Rather interestingly, after Sweden, Norway recorded the most (8), despite a less mature ecosystem than its more established Nordic neighbours. Finland (7) and Denmark (4) followed behind, with Iceland recording just the one exit in Q1.
In terms of amounts, Denmark and Finland recorded no exits where the amount was disclosed.
However, even without Opera being included in Q1, Norway recorded a sizeable amount from disclosed exits, although Sweden being out in front was no surprise, with disclosed exits nearly totalling $1 billion in Sweden alone.
As to how the exits occured, acquisitions were easily the prevalent transaction type.
Despite no tech companies in the U.S going public in Q1, that trend didn't make it's way to the Nordics, as we've seen three companies already conducting an IPO so far this year. Although it should be noted that all three of these were Swedish and all went public on First North.
29 Nordic tech companies were acquired in the first three months of 2016, but where did the purchasing companies originate from?
Over 1 in 2 of the acquired companies were bought by another company based in the region, however we are still seeing a healthy interest from the U.S and Germany in purchasing Nordic companies. China also makes another appearance, as interest in Nordic tech continues to increase in that region, however, a previously regular presence in our acquiring countries is missing in Q1 2016, as UK based companies haven't bought Nordic so far this year.
In terms of continuing to attract investment and growing the Nordic tech ecosystem, even more important than the number of exits that occur, is considering how many of them were VC-backed.
Although 41.2% may appear to be a low percentage, this actually big improvement on 2015 and demonstrates that the returns on the money that has been pumped into the region are slowly starting to be made. It's also a percentage that is markedly above the European-wide figure of 30% in 2015, strengthening the Nordics position further as one of the best places to invest in Europe.
In conclusion, even without Opera's acquisition included, Q1 has been a very strong quarter for exits in the region, with companies still going public, the disclosed exit amount easily topping $1 billion and most importantly, an increase in the amount of VCs getting returns on their money.
If you really want to keep on top of what's happening in The Nordic startup scene, then sign up to our weekly newsletter where we curate all of the need-to-knows news from the region