Introducing VentureBoard, a marketplace for start-ups

VentureBeat is pleased to introduce VentureBoard, a marketplace for the technology start-up community of Silicon Valley and other regions.

VentureBoard serves two main purposes, and we think it is particularly relevant for the post-YouTube acquisition era.

(1) It is a place where individuals or emerging tech companies can advertise their products, assets or teams for sale and where established companies can find them.

(2) It is a place for service providers, such as financial, debt, accounting, legal and PR companies, to advertise their services, and for emerging companies to locate services they need.

Over the past year, it has become clear that the really big IPOs and sales that used to happen in IT are now few and far between. YouTube’s acquisition by Google is big news in part because it is so rare.

VentureBoard serves thousands of other entrepreneurs, who have built a cool prototype or product, and are now looking for a buyer (and not necessarily going out of business).

Also, it gives the large network of service providers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere a place where they can advertise their offerings — legal, accounting, marketing, office space, and so on — to the start-up community.

ventureboard.bmpAlready, three companies have posted “for sale” listings at VentureBoard (see listings for Open Communications, Zookoda and Nuvvo), and some service providers have listed too. Listings cost $149. We’ll place the most recent listings on the homepage, too, above the Google Maps on the right.

See more details in the “About” section of VentureBoard. You’ll find an FAQ, tips and other issues about listing company assets for sale.

Also worth reading is Brian McConnell’s piece today at VentureBeat’s contributors area. He explains how the idea for VentureBoard came about, and why he wants an alternative to eBay.

We’ve seen a number of Web 2.0 companies list themselves on eBay recently. Fact is, YouTube is an exception. The median acquisition price for venture-backed companies was a mere $47.15 million last year, according to industry tracker VentureOne. That’s pretty low. It is a buyer’s market, because there are so many entrepreneurs who have built cool technologies. It is time entrepreneurs have a way to get exposure to their ideas and plans, and VentureBoard is a way.

Here’s another notable fact: Before the Skype deal, the last time a venture-backed company was bought for more than $1 billion was in 2001, when publicly traded Ciena Corp. bought telecom start-up Cyras Systems for $1.15 billion. This rarity is challenging the venture capital model. Even with MySpace’s robust sale to NewsCorp last year, it wasn’t enough to even push the performance of its major venture backer, VantagePoint into positive territory (see VentureBeat’s story today). Sevin Rosen Funds, another venture firm, has thrown in the towel on raising another fund, saying the environment is “terrible.” Entrepreneurs need different buyers and backers.

They’ve also been telling VentureBeat that they want an alternative to eBay, which requires a seller to accept the highest bidder and live by a specific close date. TechCrunch recently ran a table of these companies:
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“Ebay smells a little bit of desperation, Nick McNaughton, founder of Zookoda told us, explaining why he was avoiding the auction site. “We felt it wasn’t allowing us to control our own destiny. We wanted to have a dialogue with our potential acquirer. We wanted to get to know the people. The money side is important, but it is not the most important. We wanted an opportunity for Zookoda to be taken to a good home, cherished, and nurtured and taken to the next step.” He has listed Zookoda for sale at his own site too.

Let us know what you think of VentureBoard, and how we can improve it. We will point to the more relevant listings as they appear, and will develop the Board over time.