Only 40 venture capital funds raised money in the first quarter of 2009 — the smallest number since the third quarter of 2003.

But the $4.3 billion raised by those firms represented a 23 percent increase from the last quarter of 2008, according to Thomon Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.

Only 40 venture capital funds raised money in the first quarter of 2009 — the smallest number since the third quarter of 2003.

But the $4.3 billion raised by those firms represented a 23 percent increase from the last quarter of 2008, according to Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.

The numbers demonstrate that the majority of venture firms are not actively fundraising, but that firms with solid track records continue to be able to secure sizable commitments, NVCA President Mark Heesen said in a press release.

At the current pace, venture capital funds are on track to raise about $17 billion this year — or nearly $20 billion less than the record $35.6 billion raised by 249 funds in 2007.

Venture capital funds have backed many real estate start-ups, including Redfin, ZipRealty, Zillow, Trulia and ActiveRain.

Zappos.com executive Alfred Lin, who will speak at the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco in August, is a co-founder of the venture capital firm Venture Frogs, which has invested in Ask Jeeves, Tellme Networks and Zappos (see story).

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