So one of my clients is a venture capital fund in Silly Valley (my name for Silicon Valley). And being that I use to be in the high tech investing game, it’s a nice trip down memory lane.
Remember back in the day when they said it was a good idea to buy a basket of stocks in a hot sector, and needing only one of them to become the next Microsoft for the whole investment to pay off? Well, boy did these guys ever – they’re the real deal. The fund began with $100 million, and one of their first investments was an early round investment in ABC Networks for $5 million. Five years later, at the height of the tech bull market, they distributed shares in ABC Networks to their partners (cashing out in VC speak) with a gain of over $625 million.
Think about it for a minute. It’s the same as buying shares at $1 and selling it at $126 for a gain of $125. That’s a 125x return on the original investment. In percentage terms that’s a 12,500% return over 5 years, or roughly a compounded return of 265% per year over 5 years for their investment in ABC Networks. Overall, the original $100 million fund made over $850 million in capital gains for its investors. Or to put it simply, they turned $100 million into almost $1 billion. Takes your breath away doesn’t it?
Capitalism at its finest.
Note: Names and figures have been changed due to the information being privy to the fund and its investors. The figures used are fictional. However, I’ve maintained the magnitude of the figures for illustration purposes.
As a side note, there’s plenty one could critique – i.e. the market was a euphoric bubble, the investors may not have sold once they received the shares and rode it down, we’ll never see a market like that again, etc, etc. I wanted to give an inside peak at a VC, what can go right, and a reason why people invest in venture capital funds. Hope you enjoy.
Update: I forgot to mention, the standard fees the GP would charge to manage a fund is in the ballpark of 2.5% of capital committed per year and 20% of profits.
Update2: Here’s a good article about Google and its relation to the IPO/VC world.