Market for private tech firms soars

Steve Dinneen
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A GROWING and largely unregulated market in privately owned shares has sprung up as technology firms continue to rise in value exponentially.

Investors are clamouring to own a stake in the next major internet firm before they are publically traded, driving the biggest surge in demand for privately-owned tech companies since the dotcom boom.

Facebook has grabbed the headlines after Goldman Sachs and Russian fund Digital Sky Technologies (DST) invested $500m – valuing it at a staggering $50bn. But privately held shares in other companies have also been feverishly changing hands.

Groupon, the online marketing firm which recently rejected a $6bn takeover bid from Google, is set to raise almost $1bn from a number of major institutional investors.

Microblogging site Twitter recently raised $200m in a round of investment led by Kleiner Perkins, valuing the firm at $3.7bn. And online gaming firm Zynga has received hundreds of millions of dollars from investors including DST.

Goldman is now planning to create a vehicle that will raise as much as $1.5bn from investors desperate for a piece of Facebook, which could yet fall foul of a new SEC inquiry into the trading of privately owned tech shares.