Initial public offerings have become an endangered species, and venture capital firms aren’t finding many exit strategies through mergers and acquisitions, either.

Venture-backed M&A action dropped to $7.16 billion in 300 deals over the past year, according to figures released Tuesday by the National Venture Capital Association and Venture Economics. That figure was down from $17.08 billion in 2001 and is just a fraction of the $67.95 billion in 2000 as the “dot com” and tech bubbles began to deflate.

“The only upside here — and it’s a relative one — is that the number of deals has not varied much in the past 36 months,” wrote Dan Primack in Private Equity Week. “That means that VCs are still cashing out of their portfolio companies, but that there’s a lot less actual cash involved.”

Software firms dominated what activity there was with $1.79 billion in 106 deals.

Telecom related firms generated $1.13 billion in 34 acquisitions.

Twenty-two VC firms had IPOs in 2002 worth $1.9 billion. In 2001, there were 35 IPOs worth $2.8 billion, according to NVCA statistics. In 2000, there were 226 IPOs worth $21 billion.

In 2002 M&A deals, medical device and equipment firms produced $912.25 million in 12 deals.