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Canadian exits for 2021 at an all time high

Written by Laura Lenz and Charlie Renzoni

We’re big believers that data tells a strong story. And the good news is, 2021 ended much like it started, with Canadian companies proving that billion-dollar businesses can be founded and operated right here in Canada. There were four exits in Q4 2021 that made our top 25 exit list.

Rumble, out of Toronto, announced a SPAC with CF Acquisition Corp VI ascribing a value of C$2.7B to the company on Dec. 1st. Vancouver-based Copperleaf completed an IPO on October 7th valuing the company at C$1B. Edging into number 13 spot, home automation company Ecobee announced a sale to Generac Power Systems (NYSE: GNRC) for C$990M on Dec. 1st. And OMERS Ventures’ portfolio company D2L, completed an IPO on November 3rd valuing the company at C$861M.

Despite the slight slowdown in the summer, the final quarter saw momentum continue to build with acquirers, bankers, and hedge funds taking notice of some of the amazing companies that are being built here.

Here’s our complete top 25 VC backed exits chart, including Q4 data. In addition to 4 of the top 25 exits being added to the list (Rumble, Copperleaf, Ecobee and D2L) it is worth noting, however, that adtech company Sharethrough (referenced in our Q3 post) had to postpone its IPO. Perhaps it is the emergence of Omicron and rising inflation concerns putting pressure on public markets. Time will tell.

But more interesting than a single quarter, what can a year’s worth of exit value data tell us?

There’s no arguing that 2021 was a fantastic year for Canadian VC in both M&A and public equity issuance. Thirteen of the top 25 largest VC backed tech exits of all time occurred in 2021. Nine of those thirteen companies went public either through IPO or SPAC in 2021. And the valuations that these companies exited at are significantly higher in 2021 than they were even a year ago; at the close of 2020, the top 25 cut off valuation was C$286M, by the end of 2021 that cutoff climbed 74% to C$497M. As a result, VC funds both north and south of the border are posting their best returns in decades.

A summary of highlights for the year includes:

  • 13 of the top 25 largest VC backed tech exits of all time occurred in 2021
  • 2021 was the hottest Canadian IPO/SPAC market of all time for tech companies. Out of the top 25 Canadian VC backed exits, 13 companies went public — 9 of those occurred in 2021 (previous high is 2019 with 2 IPOs in the top 25)
  • Funding for Canadian firms jumped nearly 200 per cent compared to nearly 50 per cent in the U.S. by the end of the third quarter [The Logic]
  • Non-Canadian investors participated in 526 deals in Canada worth a combined US$10.05 billion, according to PitchBook. That’s up from 405 deals worth US$3.14 billion in 2020. [The Logic]
Source: Pitchbook 2021

But in these jubilant market conditions, it’s easy for VCs to look smart. The real question is whether these trends continue. Although there is bound to be a correction at some level, we do believe the Canadian ecosystem is maturing and that a lot of this growth is not simply down to the market conditions.

In the recent Logic article mentioned above, they reported they reported that funding for Canadian firms jumped nearly 200 per cent by the end of the third quarter. Aside from VC fund success, for companies themselves the big question now remains, will these companies deliver the growth that their valuations imply, and will they be able to achieve a successful follow-on financing or exit at these lofty multiples? That’s the crystal ball we all wish we held.

The good news is, though, it’s not even the end of the month and there have already been four VC backed exits in Canada: Catalyst Healthcare, Permission Click, Replica Analytics and Sonder. Stay tuned for our Q1 post which will come out early in April.

To see previous posts on quarterly data, see here: Q1, 2021, Q2, 2021, Q3, 2021

Methodology

The Top 25 Canadian Exits index is assembled quarterly by the OMERS Ventures team by ranking the top 25 VC-backed technology exits in Canada. The criteria for this list include that the company has its primary HQ in Canada, has been backed by at least one venture capital firm, and that technology is core to the underlying value creation. For this list, we have omitted biotech, materials, and natural resource businesses. The list is ranked by the dollar value of the post money valuation at the time of exit.

Note: CAD:USD: $0.78 for the numbers that are in this post.

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OMERS Ventures is the venture capital investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada's largest pension funds with over CAD$114 billion in net assets. OMERS Ventures is a multi-stage investor in growth-oriented, disruptive technology companies across North America and Europe.

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OMERS Ventures

OMERS Ventures

OMERS Ventures is a multi-stage VC investor in growth-oriented, disruptive tech companies across North America and Europe.

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