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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Despite all the groans about a "unicorn" IPO drought, such companies last year saw a record number of exits in North America and Europe, according to a new report from Pitchbook.

Why it matters: With an increasing number of startups valued at $1 billion or more, and continued availability of late-state private financing, there's been a growing concern over lack of liquidity for investors and early employees.

But in 2017, 24 companies valued at over $1 billion exited, including a number of IPOs. Additionally, IPOs of VC-backed companies increased 203% in value and 30% in count from 2016.

  • Caveat: Broader VC-backed exit counts are slowing, although values are still high. Moreover, acquisitions declined for a third year in a row, decreasing by 21% in value and 15.4% in deal count from 2016.

Alternative liquidity:

  • Private equity buyouts of VC-backed companies shot up to 18.5% of all VC-backed exits last year, and nearly doubled in value to $8.1 billion, according to Pitchbook.
  • The Nasdaq recently reported that, in 2017, it facilitated a record $32 billion of private secondary transactions, three times that of the previous year.

Go deeper

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

13 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.