chasing_moneyOptimists hoping that venture capital investing might be bouncing back will be disappointed by the latest numbers from Dow Jones VentureSource. After venture investments saw an encouraging uptick during the second quarter of 2009, they dipped again in the last three months.

Specifically, VCs invested $5.1 billion in 616 deals during Q3. That’s down 38 percent from the $8.2 billion invested during the same period last year, a drop you’d expect. But it’s also down 6 percent from Q2, when VCs invested $5.4 billion, so if there’s going to be a recovery, it isn’t here yet.

Looking closer at the numbers, you can see the continuation of several trends: Later-stage deals are becoming a larger piece of the pie, representing 40 percent of all deals this year compared to 33 percent last year. Deals are getting smaller, too, with a median deal size of $5 million, compared to $7 million last year.

In terms of which industries are attracting money, information technology (IT) reclaimed the top spot after being overshadowed by health care in Q2. Within that IT umbrella, it looks like Web 2.0 investments are continuing — in fact, they beat traditional software investments for the first time. VentureSource didn’t provide an exact number for Web 2.0 deals, but categorizes them as part of the information services sector, which actually improved 11 percent from last year, for a total of $627 million in 86 deals. On the other hand, investment into renewable energy, another industry that’s getting a lot of headlines in the tech world, fell 73 percent to $343 million.

None of this is terribly surprising, since venture firms themselves have been raising much less money and the liquidity of venture-backed companies is also down. Together, these numbers suggest we shouldn’t expect to a return to the startup and VC environment of 2007 and 2008 anytime soon. Indeed, they may back up speculation about a permanent industry contraction.