News

2017 was a big year for Midwestern tech exits, and two of the biggest were in Ohio

For Midwest tech exits, at least, 2017 was a very good year.

VentureBeat reports that Hyde Park Angels, using data from Pitchbook, Mattermark and other sources, turned up some eye-popping numbers among the biggest disclosed exits of 2016 and 2017 in what the publication considers the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

In 2016, 51 companies exited for a collective value of $1.6 billion. In 2017, meanwhile, 37 companies exited for a total value of $5.1 billion.

The trend “demonstrates a move to more dollars flowing into fewer deals,” VentureBeat says. “Interestingly, these exits included a combination of venture capital-backed, private equity-backed, and bootstrapped companies, demonstrating a diversity of capital to fund companies to growth.”

The biggest deal came from Ohio: the $1.1 billion sale in January 2017 of CoverMyMeds to San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. The exit for health care technology company CoverMyMeds, which is based in Columbus but has a growing operation in Highland Hills, “was the biggest in Ohio history, and it signaled an upward growth trajectory in exit activity from 2016,” VentureBeat says.

Other major exits from across the region included Michigan-based Altair Engineering’s IPO and Independence-based Macropoint‘s $107 million sale in August 2017 to Canadian firm Descartes Systems Group.

While CoverMyMeds was the biggest Midwest exit of 2017, Chicago still dominates the region.

Of the $5.1 billion in exits generated in the Midwest, $2.6 billion came from Chicago exits. This is triple what Chicago exit values were in 2016, which amounted to $859 million.

Looking forward, VentureBeat predicts that 2018 “may end up being an even stronger year for exits than years prior, creating a halo effect in the Midwest that spurs more startup investment.”

TRADE TALK

• Politico reports that representatives from 25 chambers of commerce and boards of trade across North America, including Cleveland, issued a joint statement in Montreal on Monday, Jan. 22, “stressing the benefits of NAFTA and warning about the costs of withdrawal.” U.S. cities represented on the list included Albany, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and San Antonio. “We the undersigned share a common desire to maintain free trade between the United States, Mexico and Canada, [and] urge our respective governments to come to an agreement on an updated NAFTA and to maintain it for the future economic success of all three nations,” the groups said.

• President Donald Trump’s decision on Monday to slap steep tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar energy cells and panels has the backing of both of Ohio’s U.S. senators. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, who has long advocated for relief for Clyde, Ohio-based Whirlpool, said in a statement that jobs there “have been threatened by a surge of cheap washers. These tariffs will help level the playing field, and show anyone who tries to cheat our trade laws that they won’t get away with it. I applaud the administration for this strong relief, and will continue to work to strengthen our trade laws so this cheating can’t happen in the first place.” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, said he was pleased the administration has “taken decisive action to level the playing field and protect American jobs. After moving their production from overseas back to Clyde, Whirlpool has had to fight a series of cases against companies who would rather cheat than compete. Sen. Brown and I fought for Whirlpool’s hardworking Ohio employees earlier this month, and I am pleased to see that much of our recommendation is reflected in (Monday’s) remedy.”

POWER PLAY

Puerto Rico’s governor intends to sell off the U.S. territory’s troubled power utility to the private sector, Reuters reports, but a Cleveland-based energy expert isn’t impressed with the plan.

The news service notes that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority “has yet to recover fully” from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in late September. Less than 64% of homes and businesses are receiving power, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello says the authority “has become a heavy burden on our people, who are now hostage to its poor service and high cost.” He said the process for breaking up the company would occur in three phases, calling it a move toward a “consumer-centered model.”

Tom Sanzillo, director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Cleveland, is skeptical of the plan Rossello outlined.

“He’s got no energy plan, no financial analysis, if he thinks he’s going to sell it off and the private sector is going to come in and invest, that is a recipe for Puerto Rico being raked over the coals by private interests,” Sanzillo tells Reuters.

He adds, “This will produce a maximum amount of corruption and a minimal amount of electricity.”

Originally featured in Crain’s Cleveland.