Central Florida companies reeled in nearly $19 million in venture capital during the second quarter, trailing only the Tampa Bay area's $34.5 million among regions statewide, according to the latest industry survey.
For a second straight quarter, Central Florida managed to score in the VC game after being shut out for much of last year, when the survey recorded only three deals.
Brevard County's Viera development; Winter Park-based La Familia Pawn & Jewelry ($5 million); and Row Sham Bow Inc., a social-network game developer based in Orlando.
Overall, 10 Florida companies received a combined $77.1 million during the quarter, according to the MoneyTree survey, which is published by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on Thomson Reuters data.
Although it was Florida's fourth-best quarter since the 2008 financial crisis, the Sunshine State still fell five spots to 14th place among states nationwide. Also, the dollar total was down 25 percent from the same quarter last year.
Still lags other big states
California and Massachusetts — historically the nation's venture-capital giants — topped the list again in the second quarter, with $3.76 billion and $1.07 billion in investment, respectively. Although Florida continues to lag the country's other big-population states, the climate here for venture capital may be getting better, both locally and statewide.
"There is a slightly improving mood, despite the lackluster economic data we've been seeing," said Michael Okaty, a corporate-finance expert with the law firm Foley & Lardner in Orlando. "There are always good opportunities and business plans out there that will attract financing."
Okaty noted that the MoneyTree survey often omits many deals that involve private individuals rather than venture-capital firms.
In the fourth quarter, for example, Foley & Lardner helped raise $30 million for an Orlando technology company, which he declined to identify, but the deal didn't make it into that quarter's report. The survey also omitted two private-equity deals earlier this year: the nearly $200 million buyout of Orlando-based ZeroChaos, and $140 million in financing for Empower Software Inc.
Florida's glory days past
Historically, Florida has never come close to rivaling the country's venture-capital powerhouses, but it has had some good years. In 2000, for example, at the height of the dotcom bubble, Florida companies captured a record $2.6 billion in venture financing, according to MoneyTree figures.
In mid-1999, an Orlando company — Triton Network Systems Inc. — landed a deal worth $26 million, more than any company in Silicon Valley during that quarter and the fifth-largest deal nationwide in that particular report. Triton, a maker of wireless Internet systems, would soon fall on hard times, however, after the dotcom bubble burst, and the company was dissolved in 2002.
Nationally, there has been a resurgence of venture capital for Internet-related companies in recent years.
During the second quarter, venture investors placed $2.3 billion with companies involved in social networking, Web services and other Internet-related technologies.
That constituted more than 30 percent of the second-quarter total of $7.5 billion. More than 980 companies received venture capital during the period.
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