19 Wisconsin Company Exits Since 2008 Show State’s Strengths, Trends

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Wisconsin’s innovation economy has seen at least 19 significant exits over the past six years, according to an Xconomy Wisconsin analysis.

The following list was compiled with data provided by the National Venture Capital Association, which tracks initial public offerings and merger and acquisition activity involving venture-backed companies. Xconomy also consulted the Wisconsin Angel Network and various media reports.

The list is not comprehensive, and it focuses on technology-based companies in sectors like biotech and software. (So, for example, the Wisconsin IPOs in recent years by grocery chain Roundy’s, long-time manufacturer Rexnord, and trucking company Roadrunner Transportation Services, are not included, as they are in traditional industries.)

But the list provides some insight into the high-tech and life sciences exit environment in Wisconsin since the beginning of 2008.

A few key takeaways: The exits demonstrate Wisconsin’s strengths in biotechnology and medical device manufacturing; all but one of the exits were acquisitions (just one IPO); 11 of the companies originated in and around the state capital of Madison, while seven came from the Milwaukee area; and the acquirers were located across the United States as well as Europe and Canada.

Here are the exits, in chronological order of announcement (any exit without a link means it was provided by NVCA or the company):

• Third Wave Technologies, a Madison-based biotech firm, was sold to Hologic, based in Bedford, MA, for $580 million in 2008.

• Mirus Bio, a Madison biotech, was acquired by Swiss company Roche for $125 million in 2008.

• Prodesse, a biotech firm in Waukesha, WI, was sold to San Diego-based Gen-Probe for $72 million in 2009.

• RedPrairie, a software firm based in Brookfield, WI, was acquired for an undisclosed sum by New York-based New Mountain Capital in 2010.

• Imago Scientific Instruments, a Madison-based scientific instrument manufacturer, was acquired for an undisclosed amount in 2010 by AMETEK, based in Berwyn, PA.

• EMSystems, a Milwaukee software company, was sold in 2010 to Intermedix, based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, for an undisclosed sum.

• Zystor Therapeutics, a Milwaukee biotech firm, was acquired in 2010 for $115 million by BioMarin Pharmaceutical, based in San Rafael, CA.

• Nerites, a Madison biotech company, was bought in 2011 for $20 million by Kensey Nash, based in Exton, PA.

• TomoTherapy, a Madison medical devices and equipment company, was acquired for $277 million in 2011 by Accuray, based in Sunnyvale, CA.

• Dr. Comfort, a Mequon, WI, medical devices and equipment firm, was acquired for $254.6 million in 2011 by DJO Finance, based in Vista, CA.

• Mortgagebot, a Mequon-based financial software company, was sold to Davis + Henderson, based in Toronto, Canada, for $231.8 million in 2011.

• Logistics Health, a healthcare services firm based in La Crosse, WI, was sold in 2011 for an undisclosed amount to OptumHealth, based in Golden Valley, MN.

• Sologear, a startup manufacturer of a portable, charcoal-alternative heat technology for grilling, based in Middleton, WI, was acquired in 2011 for an undisclosed amount by BIC, the U.S. arm of France-based BIC Group.

• EraGen Biosciences, a Madison biotech company, was sold in 2011 for $34 million to Luminex, based in Austin, TX.

• SoftSwitching Technologies, a Middleton industrial power technology firm, was acquired by Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation for an undisclosed sum in 2012.

• Pinstripe, a Brookfield-based recruitment process outsourcing firm, was acquired for an undisclosed amount in 2012 by Accel-KKR, based in Menlo Park, CA.

• Weather Central, a Madison data services firm, was acquired by a division of Atlanta-based The Weather Channel for an undisclosed amount in 2012.

• Cellular Dynamics (NASDAQ: ICEL), a Madison biotech company, raised $46.15 million in its IPO this year.

• C3, a Madison provider of soil mapping technology for the agricultural industry, was purchased last week for an undisclosed amount by Trimble, based in Sunnyvale, CA.