First-movers of social-networking sites may remember the old Usenet newsgroups. Then came the Friendsters and MySpaces and other copycats, until FaceBook and LinkedIn finally emerged as the networking sites of choice for personal and professional users. It may be about a decade behind, but the market for online M&A match-making sites is undergoing the same evolution. The lingering question from dealmakers, however, is whether the digital options -- powered by algorithms said to meticulously connect buyers and sellers -- can ever come close to replicating the role of real life M&A advisors.

"I've spent about two seconds of my entire life on the notion that you could dis-intermediate the role of an investment banker," claims one non-believer, a mid-market banker. "Anyone who has witnessed two M&A processes -- one well run and one poorly run -- understands the value added."

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