Venture investments dropped to the lowest level in more than a decade, according to the latest venture capital numbers released today in the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). The numbers, based on data from Thomson Reuters, showed that venture capitalists invested only $17.7 billion in 2,795 deals in 2009, the lowest investment levels since 1997. The report showed that there was a drop of 37 percent in terms of dollars, and 30 percent in deal volume during the year. Among other data points, the report found that early stage investments fell 13 percent in dollars and 17 percent in deals, with a small 2 percent increase in investments in seed state companies in terms of dollars--but with much smaller volume, down 37 percent in terms of deals. In a statement, NVCA President Mark Heesen said "The venture capital industry had no choice but to slow the investment pace in 2009," explaining, "The weak exit environment resulting from an unstable public market combined with a challenged limited partner base sent a strong message to the venture community to pull back the reins -- and the VC's listened."