Generally speaking, 2012 was not a stellar year for private equity and venture capital investment. In our neck of the woods, however, in the market research, information and analytics industry, it was not just a stellar year, it was a galactic one.
Over US $1.7 billion was invested in our industry in 2012, according to the second annual Cambiar Capital Funding Index. That represents a massive 141% increase over 2011. And it was not just the amount of money invested that more than doubled, but also the number of investments (130 in 2012 vs. 63 in 2011) and the number of investors involved (227 in 2012 vs. 100 in 2011). Clearly, this is one hot area where investment capital is concerned.
The CCFI reflects announced infusions of new capital into an industry that we define as market research, information and analytics. New capital means funds that are newly infused into the industry, and so excludes refinancing, acquisitions that are funded internally or other deals that do not require infusion of new capital.
But what exactly is it that is hot? In 2011, we found that traditional market research certainly was not hot, accounting for only US $15 million of the US $830 million invested in the sector by private equity and venture capital firms. In 2012, that figure fell to a paltry US $1.5 million. No, what is really hot is analytics. In 2011, analytics accounted for 50% of all new PE and VC capital flowing into the industry. In 2012, that figure rose to 72%.
Before moving to what “analytics” actually means in this context, it is worth noting that the bulk of the remaining investment went into platforms (technology designed to collect, analyse or visualise data) and market research. The latter is defined not so much by traditional survey companies as it is by things such as mobile applications, eye-tracking technologies, MROCs, proprietary panel building and DIY applications. This, then, is what attracts investors in the “market research” world, so much so that the actual quantum of investment in this area rose from US $138 million in 2011 to US $226 million in 2012.
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