The top 7 Italian exits. When will Italy learn to “exit”?

Few, very few, startup acquisitions in 2013. Italians are often bought by foreigners, but is it really necessary to close the market at a national level?

Exit Italia

There were very few, too few, acquisitions of Italian startups in 2013. The extraordinary transfer of EOS to Clovis for about $415 million (read here) has given, however, a new enthusiasm for the theme of exits. A market that is still just beginning in our country, which must be built with patience and knowledge.

Leveraging FinSMEs and other sources, we verified what happened in 2013 from this viewpoint. There are numerous deals that, for one reason or another, are worth citing. The list is not exhaustive but (I think) representative enough:
– Clovis/EOS: EOS, the company founded by Silvano Spinelli that develops oncological products, was acquired last week by Clovis Oncology (NASDAQ:CLVS) for over 400 million dollars. EOS was supported by funds from Sofinnova and Principia Sgr;
– Menarini/Silicon Biosystems: Menarini acquired Silicon Biosystems (read here), a startup capable of isolating rare tumor cells (and winner of the Leonardo prize 2013);
– Seolab/Alkemy: Seolab, a Search Engine Marketing Agency founded in Turin in 2007, acquired Alkemy, taking from the DPixel fund of Gianluca Dettori and Mailclick by Giulio Valiante (ex Jobrapido) 65% of the capital (read here);
– Grow VC/Kapipal: in July, Grow VC Group acquired Kapipal, the startup that developed a crowdfunding platform for personal projects (read here);
– ExitReality/Koinup: the assets of Koinup, a startup from Brescia belonging to Pierluigi Casolari and Edoardo Turelli who developed a social Network avatar, were acquired by Exitreality, which has operated for years in the virtual world sector (read here about the deal announced at the beginning of 2013).
Exit Italia
As for Italians abroad, there are two that are noteworthy:
– in London, Monoidics, the startup belonging to Cristiano Calcagno and Dino Di Stefano that developed a program to search out software errors, was acquired by Facebook (read here);
– in San Francisco, Staq.io, a backend service for games by Massimo Andreasi Bassi, Luca Martinetti and Francesco Simoneschi, was acquired by PlayHaven (read here).
Last year, the newsworthy exits were (among others) Glancee bought by Facebook, Jobrapido by the Daily Mail, and Redmatica by Apple. But at a systemic level one fact has emerged: exits are sporadic in Italy. A system that favors this does not exist. Apart from the US, we register very few in Italy, few in Europe, and a bit more in Great Britain.
So, what to do? Opinions and approaches are varied. There are some who focus on “educating” managers of large companies about the importance of acquiring startups in Italy and the creation of a true internal market. And there are others who respond that the location of startups, by definition, is global and there is no need to narrow the audience of buyers within national borders and possibly force businesses to buy exits that destroy the worth of the company. And some think that it is only a matter of time before exits are made within Italy. All approaches that can be agreed upon but there must be a real push from the bottom, from startups themselves, with the quality of their products and their capacity to create international business. Thus, also learning (well) foreign languages in order to confront foreign markets and develop relations with industrial and commercial partners is of great importance. There don’t appear to be secrets or methods to follow. Just working without any assurance of continuity. How many years will it take to learn to “exit”?

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