Sand Hill Road, venture capital

The social media/internet category dominated the headlines in the second half of 2011, which is when we launched Inside IPO. You can see from the stories below, the five most popular as told by our readers’ mouse-clicks, that the Silicon Valley new entrants captured attention in a way we haven’t seen since the late 1990s. A big part of this, of course, was the action in the venture capital market, particularly as investments were being made at higher and higher implied valuations.

Let’s look at this year’s top market intel stories on Inside IPO:

1. The 10 most valuable startups in the world [IMPLIED VALUATION]It’s easy to get stuck on the usual names. Facebook. Zynga. Twitter. Groupon. But, there are a lot of startups out there that are changing the world. And, they’re getting the implied valuations to back up the hype. Business Insider just compiled its list of the 10 most valuable startups in the world. No, they aren’t all from Silicon Valley. And, you may not have heard of some of them (I’ll admit to that).

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2. Four reasons venture capital firms are watching the IPO market cautiouslyOkay, everyone’s watching the IPO market cautiously right now. Economic conditions are painful, and political unrest around the world isn’t helping the market out. So, it would stand to reason that venture capitalists – those professional risk-takers – would always eye the IPO market with a tad more suspicion. Well, they have good reason to do so. Let’s take a look at four good reasons, below, from the Wall Street Journal:

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3. How Zillow got its ‘Z’Was the NYSE holding ‘Z’ for Zynga? The prospect of two ‘Z’ companies going public in the same year is a bit strange … but the same thing happened with ‘X’ back in the dotcom boom. Letters can become highly coveted, and when it’s time for an IPO, the competition becomes even hotter, as single-letter stock symbols are signs of prestige.

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4. See how social media stacks up against the IPO class of 2011 [INTERACTIVE INFOGRAPHIC]I can tell you that the Pandora IPO was exciting. I was on the floor of the NYSE for the affair – and was able to watch the company’s price tick higher by the second on a broker’s tablet computer. The fun didn’t last long, however, and now the company’s price is nowhere near as thrilling as it was that warm morning in June.

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5. Who has how much control of Zynga? Zynga honcho Mark Pincus attracted lots of attention when he introduced a new shareholder structure at the end of August. It gave him an unprecedented level of voting power … not to mention an unprecedented third voting class which he would occupy alone.

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Photo: Mark Coggins via Flickr