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VC firms see more unicorn exits, higher values in 2018, Pitchbook says

Venture capital firms exited 33 portfolio companies valued at $1 billion or more, totaling $76 billion, in 2018, according to PitchBook data released Thursday.

In 2017, there were 22 venture capital exits of $1 billion or more worth a combined $50.9 billion in 2017, and four such exits totaling $5.1 billion in 2010.

From 2010 to 2018, PitchBook tracked 147 exits either by mergers and acquisitions or initial public offerings valued in the private market at more than $1 billion. During the same period, only five of the "unicorns" — companies valued at $1 billion or more — were worth less than their private market value after exiting.

PitchBook data show that the median step-up valuations of large companies have been trending downward since 2015. Step-up valuation is a metric used by PitchBook that is derived by dividing the median valuation of portfolio companies at $1 billion or more on exit by the companies' value after receiving its last private capital investment.

In 2018, the step-up valuation of exits worth $1 billion or more was 1.8 times; it was 1.9 times in 2017 and 4.4 times in 2015, PitchBook data show.