How does investing in a venture fund work?

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JASON LEMKIN

Don’t do it.

Almost always — do not, as an individual, invest in venture funds.

They are not designed for you.

A “Very Good” (not great, but very good) Venture Fund will:
double your money (i.e., do 2x)
over 10 years (it takes a long time) with
zero liquidity until then (at least, zero material liquidity).
A truly great one will do 4x. Even 3x is quite rare.

Does this sound like a good idea vs. investing in Vanguard VTI? Which is 100% liquid? No. For 99.9% of individuals — it is not.

Now, if you are $5b+ pension fund. Or a sovereign wealth fund, or large endowment. And struggling to earn 6–8% on your portfolio. It turns out 2x, with a shot at 3–4x, can translate back to 20%+ annual returns. And here, liquidity is not as important. You’re managing patient capital. So the trade-offs are OK.

But for most individuals, it’s not worth it. It’s better to do angel investing, where at least a rare Uber can do 100x+. But a venture fund will never do 100x. Ever.

Stay away unless you really know what, and why, you are investing in.

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Published on December 12, 2016
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