Global Themes

On Globalization & Venture Capital

The Math of VC Returns…

…or how important winners are to venture returns and how difficult it is to find them. Excerpts from a recent Seth Levine post (emphasis added):

Based on their data, a full 65% of financings fail to return 1x capital.  And perhaps more interestingly, only 4% produce a return of 10x or more and only 10% produce a return of 5x or more.

…This really underscores the challenge of creating a venture portfolio that produces reasonable returns. If you were to actually construct a portfolio based on these averages, a $100M venture fund investing in 20 companies would produce a gross return of approximately $206M (that’s before fees and expenses). The resulting fund would have an IRR in the range of 10% (the exact IRR would depend on the timing of the cash flows, but I constructed a few models to approximate this and 10% was the average return). That’s hardly something to write home about and underscores the challenge of being “average” in this industry.

Hidden in this exercise – and perhaps more important – is the challenge of finding companies at the right side of the distribution chart. In my hypothetical $100M fund with 20 investments, the total number of financings producing a return above 5x was 0.8 – producing almost $100M of proceeds. My theoretical fund actually didn’t find their purple unicorn, they found 4/5ths of that company. If they had missed it, they would have failed to return capital after fees. Even if we doubled the number of portfolio companies in the hypothetical portfolio, a full quarter of the fund’s return comes from the roughly ½ of a company they invested in that generated 10x or above. Had they missed it, they would have produced a return that roughly approximated investing in bonds – not the kind of risk adjusted return they or their investors were looking for.

…All of this math simply underscores how important winners are to venture returns and how difficult it is to find them.

Here’s the sobering chart that accompanied the post:


Related Posts: A very sobering and a humbling reminder..

October 11th, 2014 Posted by | Venture Capital | no comments

Sobering. Very Sobering.

From Kauffman Foundation Bashes VCs For Poor Performance, Urges LPs To Take Charge

The Kauffman Foundation, which has ties to the venture industry, has issued a damning study of the business that addresses long-running concerns about poor performance..

Looking into its portfolio of nearly 100 VC funds, including what it says are some of the most notable and exclusive names (confidentiality agreements barred it from naming them), the foundation found that only 20 of them beat a public-market equivalent by more than 3% annually, and half of those started investing before 1995.

…The report also offers support for the belief that small venture funds are the most successful. Only four of 30 VC funds in the foundation’s portfolio with more than $400 million in committed capital produced returns better than those from a publicly traded small-cap stock index fund.

…The foundation promises to take its own medicine. It said it will invest in venture funds of less than $400 million whose partners have consistently shown they can outperform public markets and who commit at least 5% of the fund’s capital. It also plans to do more direct investing to avoid paying management fees and sharing profits with VCs. And, it plans to shift money from venture capital to the public markets.

May 11th, 2012 Posted by | Venture Capital | no comments

A Sobering (and humbling) Reminder…

Courtesy Fred Wilson, this chart and the data below (via Mark Suster)…

…using the math I laid out yesterday (roughly 1,000 startups funded each year by VCs), this means that on average between 1% and 3% of venture funded startups get to an IPO.

To recap, 1-3% get to an IPO and 5-10% get to an M&A exit over $100mm. So 85-95% of all venture backed startups will either fail or exit below $100mm.

IPO Chart Mark Suster VC IPO M&A Data

June 24th, 2011 Posted by | Venture Capital, Venture Capital in US | no comments

Nanopost of the month…

…in which I break my self-imposed period of silence.  I have a very good reason.  I am very pleased and excited to now be formally involved in an extraordinary enterprise in India: Vindhya. Vindhya is extraordinary because:

…almost 95% of its staff of 200 youngsters comprises differently-abled and physically challenged youngsters

Vindhya BoD

Read more about them in this post on my personal blog...and wish us luck in our bold plans for the future.

March 20th, 2011 Posted by | Venture Capital | no comments

Characteristics of Great Investors

Chanced upon this great post by Matt Blumberg on “10 Characteristics of Great Investors“.

Should be read by ALL investors, I think.

I am listing my favourite five of the ten characteristics below:

  • Great investors know how to give strategic advice without being in the operating weeds of a company
  • Great investors get to know whole management teams, not just CEOs
  • Great investors invite you to do diligence on them by giving you a list of every CEO they’ve ever worked with and asking you to pick the ones you want to talk to
  • Great investors ask great questions
  • Great investors don’t publicly take credit for the success of their investments, even if they were major drivers of that success

Thanks Matt.

September 5th, 2009 Posted by | FAQs for Entrepreneurs, Venture Capital, What VCs really do | no comments

Feeling the chill in Goa

Just back from an exhausting and intense 10-day visit to India, part of which was taken up by the Capvent VC/PE Conference in Goa.

I shared a panel on “New Media” with Rajesh Sawhney of Reliance Entertainment and Harel Beit-On of Viola Private Equity…and talked briefly about Enqii and an Indian start-up that I am very enthused about (it takes Out-of-Home advertising to a new level – leveraging the ubiquitous cycle rickshaws that you see across large parts of India – more on them later)

Interesting conversations on the sidelines and during the panels…but the “chill” in Private Equity was unmistakable – even as Goa seared at 33 degrees…

India seems to be holding up better though…and the sentiment is mildly optimistic…not least because of a rebounding stock market that has jumped 40% in the last three months – as it recovers from its multi-year lows.

I also concluded my latest personal investment – in an Indian start-up which I believe is very attractively positioned in the education sector in India.  It is called Elements Akademia…Check them out.

Somewhat related posts:

Feel the Shanghai sizzle…in Mumbai 

Feeling the heat in China…

April 14th, 2009 Posted by | Conferences and Panels, Venture Capital | one comment

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