January 5, 2016, 6:00 AM

Money surges into e-commerce in 2015

Investors and buyers put more than $32 billion into the industry last year, a 145% jump year over year.

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E-commerce companies saw a lot of green last year. High-dollar investment rounds and billion-dollar-plus acquisitions led to the sector nabbing $32.45 billion from investors and acquirers, a leap of more than 145% compared with 2014, according to investment firm Petsky Prunier’s 2015 summary of merger and acquisition and investment activity. In 2014, the comparable amount was $13.22 billion.  

Deal and investment activity in the sector increased to 475 deals in 2015 from 323 announced deals in 2014. High-value acquisitions in the sector included online travel company Expedia Inc. buying vacation rental services site Homeaway Inc. in a deal valued at $3.4 billion. High-value investments included $2.1 billion raised by ride-share service Uber, and the $500 million raised by Jet.com, the online marketplace that launched in July.

Overall, the digital media/commerce sector drew $70.36 billion across 1,252 announced transactions versus $48.62 billion across 1,073 transactions in 2014. The digital media/commerce sector includes, in addition to the e-commerce activity outlined above, deals in areas of mobile content/apps, classifieds/auctions/peer-to-peer, niche content, gaming, social media/apps, web search/portals and domain portfolio/marketplace companies. 348 of the 1,252 announced transactions were majority buys, while 904 transactions were minority investments. 

The mobile content/apps sector had 257 announced deals worth $7.29 billion in 2015, fewer than the 304 deals announced in 2014, but greater in overall value. The deals in 2014 were worth $6.78 billion. The same held true for the social media/apps segment. It drew $4.27 billion across 116 transactions in 2015 versus $2.66 billion across 163 transactions in 2014.

In other segments of the marketing, media and technology industries, marketing technology companies drew $26.84 billion, a 38.3% increase from $19.41 billion in 2014. Companies within the analytics and targeting space garnered the greatest number of transactions with a reported value of $3.92 billion across 207 deals. This includes Neustar Inc.’s $390 million deal to buy marketing analytics technology firm MarketShare, and comScore Inc.’s $850 million deal to buy media measurement and targeting company Rentrak Corp.

Within the marketing technology sector, companies in customer relationship management drew the greatest amount of money, but in many fewer deals: $5.35 billion across 74 deals.

Within the digital advertising sector, digital video companies experienced the greatest amount of activity and investment in 2015, with 78 deals collectively worth $6.04 billion. The sectors with the next highest amounts of investment were comparison shopping with $1.29 billion and mobile marketing, which drew $1.07 billion.

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