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VCs to score big on Zipcar sale

January 2, 2013: 11:32 AM ET

zipZipcar has lost value since its IPO, but its early investors will see huge returns.

FORTUNE -- Venture capitalists could be riding away with more than $130 million in profits from their early bets on car-sharing service Zipcar (ZIP), which today agreed to be acquired by Avis Budget Group (CAR) for around $500 million in cash.

Zipcar raised approximately $67 million from VCs between 2000 and 2010, with the largest investments coming from Benchmark Capital, Greylock Partners, Smedvig Capital and Meritech Capital Partners. This does not include investments made by Revolution Living in Flexcar, a rival car-sharing company acquired by Zipcar in 2007.

At the $12.25 per share acquisition price -- plus some earlier divestitures -- the total return would be around $205 million. If you were to exclude Revolution, it would be closer to $121 million.

Of Zipcar's venture backers, only Smedvig appears to have sold some of its shares via Zipcar's April 2011 IPO. Since then, Benchmark Capital is the only firm to have reported a disposition -- generating over $17 million from its December 2011 sale of around one-third of its total position. So here's what everyone seems to be left with, at a sale price to Avis of $12.25 per share:

  • Revolution Living: $84 million
  • Benchmark Capital: $31.2 million (total return of $48.88 million including earlier sale)
  • Greylock Partners: $26.27 million
  • Smedvig Capital: $12.48 million (total return $28 million including earlier sale)

One firm not included above is Meritech Capital Partners, which bought around $20 million worth of "Series G" stock in December 2010. There is no indication that Meritech has sold any of the shares, which today would be valued at just around $16.8 million. Also not included in the return calculations are from groups like Globespan Capital Partners and Boston Seed Partners that were too small to require regulatory reporting.

A few other notes about the acquisition:

  • At the end of its first day of trading as a public company, Zipcar was valued at approximately $1.1 billion.
  • One of the big expected synergies here is fleet optimization. Avis usually sees peak usage at mid-week, and often has idle supply on the non-holiday weekends. Zipcar, on the other hand, is busiest on the weekend and relatively slow during the week. The combination is expected to help even out those peaks and valleys a bit.
  • Expect the deal to seriously expand Zipcar into airports, including one-way to/from usage.
  • Zipcar will continue to be operated by its existing management team out of Boston.

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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