Can the latest VC report — see our story here — really be true? Silicon Valley venture capitalists invested less in the fourth quarter of last year than they did in any quarter over the past seven years, according to a study by VentureOne and Ernst & Young. Most people we’ve talked with in Silicon Valley’s entrepreneur community swear activity has picked up, so we raise some questions about the data in the story. Here are three other reasons to believe any dip, if it happened at all, is a temporary aberration — items that we didn’t mention in today’s Merc story.

(1) We can’t talk about it yet, because we’re under NDA, but the other main quarterly report about venture capital, compiled by Venture Economics, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association will be coming out Monday, and we have reason to believe it may show a different take….stay tuned.

(2) Money continues to build up in the coffers of venture capital firms — and it has to be spent sometime soon. A report released this week by Private Equity Intelligence’s Mark O’Hare (we were given a peak, but full report is subscription only), shows that 284 private equity funds raised $136 billion in 2004, almost twice the total raised in 2003. And he predicts 2005 will continue to be a robust year. Already 508 firms are “on the road” this month, meaning they’re in the process of raising money for new funds. He predicts 350 new funds will raise $200 billion or more.

(3) Signs are, businesses are spending more on technology, which will help fuel growth in the technology start-ups. Here’s the latest story by the NYT (subscription required).