A story in the Wall Street Journal today makes a big stink over the steadily dwindling number of initial public offerings (sorry, paid subscription required) by start-up companies. The numbers are indeed bleak: 2005 saw 41 IPOs by venture-backed start-ups, compared to 67 in 2004 and a booming 250 in 1999, according to data from VentureOne, which tracks that sort of thing.

The Journal sees the slowdown as part of a trickle-down effect that begins with a regulatory crackdown on Wall Street leading to fewer analysts (995 in 2005, compared with 1,420 in 2001), who combined don't have the bandwidth to cover every single public company, leaving more companies out in the cold than before -- since if they are going to spend time covering any companies, those banks are going to make sure they're the most lucrative clients (says the Journal). And if you don't have a big analyst -- or, well, any analyst -- covering your company, you're not really going to make it in the IPO game.