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Early-stage deals take center stage as exit strategies blur
by Katherine Goncharoff Posted 04:45 EST, 2, Jan 2001

As exit strategies have become far less predictable, VCs active in early-stage deals will become even more cautious. And they’ll play a far more controlling role in the companies in which they do invest.

That’s the sober assessment of what’s next in early-stage venture activity, according to analysts, attorneys and VCs themselves.

“It was one great party for about five years. But now everybody literally has a hangover,” said Scott Sandell, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, whose billion-dollar-plus fund continues to play an active role in early-stage investments.

On the upside, the quality of many early-stage deals and the size of the financings may actually increase. After all, established funds such as NEA, Accel Partners, Menlo Ventures and Oak Investment Partners have raised megafunds lately, with sizable amounts fully committed to early-stage investments.

Still, the consensus is that the early-stage sector has doffed its collective party hat. Other signs: Valuations for many investment sectors are way down and VCs are spending much more time doing research and due diligence on their investments.

“It used to take six weeks to raise money for a startup; now the average amount of time is anywhere from three to six months,” Sandell said.

“The amount of time it takes before a company will actually see a term sheet on the table has definitely gotten longer,” said Stanley Tims, a managing director at early-stage investment fund TL Ventures in Austin, Texas. While the average time to fund a deal a year ago was about two to three months, he noted, that has increased to an average of five to six months.

“We used to see a company on Monday and would have to make an investment decision on Friday,” said Noel Fenton, a general partner at early-stage specialists Trinity Ventures in Menlo Park, Calif. “Now we have a lot more time to consider a deal.”

Fenton added that he looks forward to being much more selective about his early-stage investments.

Frank Occhipinti, a general partner at the Woodside Fund and chairman of the Early Stage Venture Capital Alliance, reported that while the average size of early-stage investments has reached an all-time high of $12 million in the past year–and may even get higher in the age of megafunds–he believes there will be far fewer disbursements in 2001.

That’s in part because early-stage investing always takes more time and requires far more advisory input on the part of VCs.

The new megafunds, Occhipinti said, will not have the time or staff resources to participate, particularly when many are devoting more resources to portfolio companies already further along in their development.

“The sort of seed fundings that VCs used to make will be an increasingly underserved area, as VCs will not have the time or the bandwidth to spend on these types of investments,” Occhipinti said.

While valuations for early-stage companies in hot sectors such as fiber optics and telecom are not expected to change much, VCs say a drop in valuations is to be expected in all other sectors.

“Early-stage valuations usually lag public markets by six to 12 months, so you won’t see the big adjustment in valuations until the first half of 2001,” said Terry Opendyk, a general partner at Onset Enterprise Associates LP, an early-stage fund created by partners at NEA and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

“We’re going to see valuations that are 50% to 70% less; as a result, VCs will be getting more ownership for far less money,” Occhipinti said.

Tims echoes those thoughts, noting that in sectors such as Internet and enterprise software, valuations are already half of what they were a year ago.

“The trend is a shift away from full acceleration on vesting to partial acceleration, and I’m seeing far more double-tranche deals and ratchets,” said Mark White, a founding partner at White & Lee, a law firm that works with both startups and venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.

Double-tranche deals are early-stage fundings in two stages where the second part of the funding does not occur until certain milestones or performance demands are met. Ratchets are a form of dilution and valuation protection for investors. It is less favorable to company founders and employees who may have ownership in the company.

“I started to see this right after the market correction in the spring,” White noted.

Said Mel Weinberg, an adviser to both startups and venture capital firms at Parker Chapin llp in New York, a firm that will soon merge with Jenkens & Gilchrist: “Frankly, I was shocked when I started to see ratchets make a comeback earlier last year. But now I expect to see them in 50% of the early-stage deals I will be working on in the months ahead.”

Both White and Weinberg pointed out, however, that deal terms shouldn’t get too onerous because no investor wants their managers to walk out the door.

Some VC observers, however, envision funding more optimistically. In their view, with valuations down, the VC party is only just beginning. It’s just that many VCs don’t want to admit it.

“The party is starting for the franchise firms: the NEAs and the Kleiner Perkins that are well-funded and well-known early-stage investors who bring some degree of certainty to an underwriting process,” said John LeClaire, an attorney in the private equity practice at Goodwin, Procter & Hoar llp in Boston.

“That’s because now is the time to invest at far more reasonable valuations and prices, though it will take far longer to gestate these firms.”

Stephen (Steve) Lisson, founder and editor of an industry newsletter and Web site called InsiderVC.com, based in Austin, Texas, would agree about the advent of good times for early-stage VCs and entrepreneurs as well.

“If I were an entrepreneur looking for early-stage funding, the landscape couldn’t be more beautiful,” he said.

“The pace of funding may be slower, but the riff-raff has been separated out, the entrepreneurs with the goods have been left standing, and all those record-setting amounts of money we’ve been hearing about will have to be spent, in large part, on early-stage investments.”

CORRECTION In the article “Early stage deals take center stage as exit strategies blur” (Wed., Jan 5, page 9), the name of the founder and editor of InsiderVC.com was misspelled. It is Stephen N. (Steve) Lisson.

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Matrix Edges Kleiner | Steve Lisson

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Matrix Edges Kleiner
by Paul Shread

January 29, 2001–Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Matrix Partners are considered the cream of the crop among venture capital firms, the kind of VCs that limited partners are fortunate to be able to invest their money with.

So compliments paid, we set out to find out which was better.

Using the data of Steve Lisson, editor of InsiderVC.com, who tracks VCs’ performance and considers Matrix and Kleiner the top VCs, we applied a metric suggested by former Flatiron partner Dan Malven, which we will call the “Malven Metric.”

Malven suggested the metric after our piece comparing Kleiner’s performance in the IPO market last year with four other firms. In short, we divide overall performance by the number of partners, thus measuring wealth created per partner.

Malven cautions that that measure of performance could be skewed if each partner at one firm has a lot more to invest than partners at another firm, but Kleiner and Matrix appear pretty evenly matched. Matrix IV in 1995 was a $125 million fund (and had distributed 11 times that amount to its limited partners by the middle of last year, according to Lisson), and Matrix V in 1998 was a $200 million fund that had already distributed four times its LPs’ capital by mid-2000. Using the conservative figure of five partners during the time that 2000 IPOs were being funded, that means Matrix partners had $65 million each to work with. (We did not include Matrix VI, a $304 million fund that was only 30% invested as of June 30 last year.)

Kleiner VIII in 1996 was a $299 million fund that had returned 12 times its LPs’ capital by mid-2000, according to Lisson. Kleiner IX in 1999 was a $460 million fund that was 80% invested by mid-2000. Using the conservative figure of 13 partners, Kleiner partners had $58 million each to work with.

Now on to the 2000 results. Ten of Kleiner’s companies went public in 2000 (0.77 IPO per partner), compared to 4 for Matrix (0.80 IPO per partner). Kleiner’s stake in those companies was worth about $2.3 billion when the lock-up period expired (one company, Cosine Communications, is still in lock-up, and Kleiner’s stake in the company is worth about $100 million). Matrix’s stake in its four IPOs was worth about $1.6 billion when they came out of lock-up. That gives Matrix a per-partner return of $320 million, and Kleiner $177 million, giving the edge in per-partner wealth creation to Matrix.

A few caveats on those results. First, we measured performance in the IPO market only; we did not look at acquisitions, the number of which often exceeds IPOs in a given year. Second, Kleiner has two health care partners, according to Malven. Since health care companies had a tough year in the IPO market last year (Kleiner had no health care IPOs), reporting the results based on IT partners only raises Kleiner’s per-partner wealth creation to $209 million. We certainly want our top VCs to focus on the future of health care regardless of market conditions, and there’s been quite a debate going on within the venture capital industry about IT versus health care investing. The third caveat is that Kleiner IX is the newest of the funds measured, so that too could give Matrix an edge. But don’t feel too bad for Kleiner; according to Lisson, 6-year-old Kleiner VII was the best-performing venture fund last year, still riding high on its monster hit Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR). That fund has returned more than 20 times its limited partners’ capital.

Matrix’s big hit of 2000 was Arrowpoint Communications, which netted Matrix $1 billion when it was acquired by Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO) in June. Kleiner had holdings in three IPOs that were worth $500 million or more when they came out of lock up: ONI Systems (Nasdaq:ONIS), Handspring (Nasdaq:HAND) and Corvis (Nasdaq:CORV).

It’s not clear when or if the VCs sold shares in the IPOs. Cisco’s stock, for example, has declined almost 40% since the Arrowpoint deal closed. Kleiner’s biggest winners have held their value since the lock-up period expired, but both companies had holdings that declined substantially from their lock-up expiration price.

Both firms also had about $2 billion each in 1999 IPOs that came out of lock-up in 2000, giving Matrix the “Malven Metric” edge there too.

But as Lisson pointed out, “This is splitting hairs amidst the pinnacle of the field. A fun, interesting and worthwhile analysis, but the distinction makes no difference to investors in these funds. The amounts of money involved are trivial when viewed in context, the venture capital segment in the alternatives portion of an entire portfolio. Nonetheless, the LPs of both Kleiner and Matrix can thank their lucky stars to be in these funds. It is amazing how these and a few other elite firms can put so much distance between themselves and the rest of field, repeatedly, in bad times as well as good.”

And finally, a follow-up to last week’s column on Summit Partners, the most recent firm to join the elite $2 billion fund club. Lisson had this to say of Summit: “As a private equity investor, Summit can outperform some early-stage VCs, the reverse of how it’s supposed to work. Now that’s a firm where unquestionably ‘there’s something in the water’ consistently over the years.”

Corey Ostman of Alert-IPO and Mary Evelyn Arnold of VC Buzz provided research for this article.

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Steve Lisson profiles | February 2015 | STEPHEN N. LISSON, Plaintiff

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V I R G I N I A :

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE CITY OF RICHMOND

John Marshall Courts Building

400 North Ninth Street

STEPHEN N. LISSON,                                                                               )

)

Petitioner,                  )

)

  1. ) Case No.: HQ-2029-4

)

VIRGINIA RETIREMENT SYSTEM                      )

)

and                                                                             )

)

WILLIAM H. LEIGHTY,                                            )

Respondents.           )

ORDER

On the 30th day of October, 2001, came the parties in person and by counsel upon the Petition; upon the Grounds of Defense; upon the Demurrers; upon evidence heard ore tenus; upon the representation of the parties that a settlement had been reached and was argued by counsel.

UPON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s Petition is sufficient to state a cause of action; that the Demurrers should be overruled; that the parties have arrived at a settlement whereby: (1) Respondents have agreed to pay to Petitioner the sum of Seven Thousand Dollars and no/100 ($7,000.00); (2) the Petitioner has agreed to a dismissal with prejudice of all of his outstanding claims against Respondents; and (3) Respondents have agreed that the dismissal of claims by Petitioner shall not prejudice any right he has or may have to obtain documents from Respondents subsequent to October 30, 2001, whether such requests for documents be for the same documents previously requested or documents similar thereto or documents of any nature whatesoever.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that this cause be and the same is hereby dismissed with prejudice;

And this cause is hereby removed from the docket and placed among the ended causes.

ENTER:    /     /

__________________________________

Judge

We Ask For This:

____________________________p.q.

Larry A. Pochucha, Esquire

Attorney for Stephen N. Lisson

VSB No. 15674

COATES & DAVENPORT

5206 Markel Road

P.O. Box 11787

Richmond, Virginia 23230

(804) 285-7000

Facsimile: (804) 285-2849

___________________________p.d.

Michael Jackson, Esquire

Attorney for Virginia Retirement System

Assistant Attorney General

State of Virginia

900 E. Main Street

Richmond, Virginia 23219

(804) 786-6055

Facsimile: (804) 786-0781
____________________________p.d.

Robert A. Dybing, Esquire

Attorney for William H. Leighty

Shuford, Rubin & Gibney, P.C.

P.O. Box 675

Suite 1250, Seven Hundred Building

Richmond, Virginia 23218

Office (804) 648-4442

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Monday, January 26, 2015

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Venture Capital Financing Is Further Sapped by Events – NYTimes

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/26/…/26VENT.html‎
The New York TimesSep 26, 2001 – Steve N. Lisson, editor and publisher of InsiderVC.com, said recent events were reminiscent of the time around the gulf war, when the industry 

New Enterprise Is Huge and Proud of It (washingtonpost.com)

http://www.washingtonpost.com › … › The Dealmakers
The Washington PostDec 6, 2004 – Steve Lisson, the editor of InsiderVC.com, takes a dim view of NEA’s size. of smaller funds,” said Lisson, whose company provides analysis of 

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ForbesSep 10, 2001 – But venture capitalists had better keep investing, warns Steve Lisson, who runs the popular InsiderVC.com. According to data tracker 
Pa. pension data leave questions about returns – Philly.com

articles.philly.com/…/25443104_1_pension-system-retirement-investmen…‎Oct 13, 2005 – Steve Lisson, publisher of the Texas-based private-equity newsletter InsiderVC.com, questioned the teachers’ system’s basis for not disclosing  

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Matrix PartnersJan 29, 2001 – Using the data of Steve Lisson, editor of InsiderVC.com, who tracks VCs’ performance and considers Matrix and Kleiner the top VCs, we 

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Waltham’s Matrix Leading Venture Pack on Both – Boston.com

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/reprints/111200_matrix/‎

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Nov 12, 2000 – Stephen N. Lisson, a writer in Austin, Texas, tracks top venture players on his Web site, insiderVC .com, much to the chagrin of the venture firms …

Data Packet: Net Loss – New York Times

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Mar 23, 2001 – Get unlimited access to NYTimes.com and NYTimes apps. … that VCs are getting more aggressive,” said Stephen Lisson, editor and publisher ..

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Dec 8, 2013 – Tom Bodkin, The New York Times (2009) ….. Shaila Dewan, New York Times (2008) Frederic DeWulf …… Stephen Lisson, INITIATE!! (1997)

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January 24, 2014

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January 18, 2014

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Transparency. Let’s have a round of applause for CalPers, the giant state pension fund, for transparency. Beth Healy of the Boston Globe (8/17/2001) reports Money managers aghast that pension investor shows returns, rankings. It’s a report card that has rocked the secretive venture capital world, and one that even the `A’ students didn’t care to see displayed on the refrigerator. Calpers, the giant California pension fund that sets trends for many large investors, has posted on its Web site the performance of every venture or buyout fund in which it’s invested for the past decade. Firms typically guard these numbers carefully, but the Calpers chart even says which funds are meeting expectations, and which are disappointments. … The industry buzz around the report stems from the secrecy with which venture firms and buyout artists guard the specifics of their returns. Virtually every firm claims ”top quartile” performance, and the numbers they give out are suspect, venture analysts say. Steve Lisson of Austin, Texas, on his controversial Web site, InsiderVC.com, tracks venture returns by doing his own calculations on venture portfolios. He is the only independent source on such numbers and has drawn fire from some venture capitalists for breaking the code of silence. … over the long term, Calpers has been doing something right. As of March 31, its average annual return for 10 years of private equity investing was 17.5%. The Wilshire 2500 Index, a broad stock market benchmark, was up 13.9% in that period. Would that the federal government would do the same with alleged investment programs like SBIR.
Carl Nelson Consulting
http://www.carl-nelson.com/government2001.htm
Published by Carl Nelson Consulting, Inc, 1325 18th St NW, Washington DC 20036

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

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What’s a VC to Do?

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What’s a VC to Do?

Forbes.com
What’s a VC to Do?
Shelley Pannill, Forbes ASAP, 09.10.01
Someone’s always looking for a bargain.
As thousands of new economy startups crashed and burned this past year, speculation mounted that the venture capitalists they once enriched were now cautiously sitting on pots of gold and playing golf. But the VCs we talked to say it’s only the limited partners, the investors behind the venture funds, who get to perfect their putts.
So what are these high-powered moneylenders up to now?
Damage control. VCs, like the rest of us, have lost a lot of money lately. Some 25% are expected to go out of business over the next several years. “Sometimes your widget doesn’t widge,” says Alan Salzman, founding partner at VantagePoint Venture Partners. He should know. His firm recently faced the grim task of writing severance checks after one bankrupt portfolio company’s management team had squandered its money. Then there’s the job of smoothing things out at companies that survived but were merged, downsized, or acquired. Says Philip Gianos of InterWest Partners: “I’m acting like a marriage counselor, which is a full-time job right now.”
Scouring the ocean floor. Last year, says one observer, “You felt lucky to be able to invest in a new technology startup.” This year, VCs get to play God, waiting to invest until impoverished companies are desperate for cash. “I’ve been out bargain shopping,” says Heidi Roizen of Softbank Venture Partners, sipping chardonnay on a rolling lawn at the Atherton, California, home of a fellow VC. “I can’t believe these valuations!”
Revisiting old friendships. Last year’s “shootouts” for deals have subsided. VCs are again finding synergies with competitors. “The tourists are gone,” says Accel Partners über investor Jim Breyer, alluding to the rush of cash-happy hobbyists–both individuals and companies–combing the landscape for gold in recent years.
Business as usual. Sort of. VCs are doing what they do best: investing in startups, although the pace has slowed. According to research firm Venture Economics, VC investments have fallen by nearly two-thirds, from $27.2 billion in Q2 last year to $10.6 billion in Q2 this year. Still, they’re actually spending more this year in some sectors, such as wireless, biotechnology, fiber optics, and data storage. E-commerce, of course, was the big loser, with VC investing sinking from $210 million in the first quarter of last year to $3.3 million by the fourth quarter.
But venture capitalists had better keep investing, warns Steve Lisson, who runs the popular InsiderVC.com. According to data tracker VentureOne, 27 venture capital firms have completed raising funds of more than $1 billion each since the start of the dot-com doldrums in spring 2000. Says Lisson: “They’ve got to use it or lose it.”

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Monday, December 2, 2013

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Financial Investors? Us?
InsiderVC.com pierces the VC industry’s verbal fog.
1 April 01 12:14, Tsafrir Bashan
Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas, Steve Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas
Anyone carefully following the venture capital industry in Israel and overseas recognizes the routine. Managing partners talk at length and with great passion, but with very little substance. They gossip endlessly about the industry. What about the industry’s numbers? “We don’t disclose private data,” is the stock reply from industry players.
Today, for example, everyone knows that the situation is bad, but it is hard to say who exactly is in a bad position. You won’t find a fund partner talking animatedly about a company shutting down or about a down round. The most you can expect is an admission that not everything is perfect.
The absence of data is both odd and entertaining, particularly for an industry in which capital, finances, and yield are the key words. Without figures on the amount of a company’s holdings or valuations, the pompous phrase, “added value,” is all the venture capital industry has left to talk about. It is difficult to find a financial industry at any point in history that has provided so few figures. (Venture capital is a professional investment industry, regardless of how many partners talk about opening doors and assistance in recruiting executives).
Against this rather frustrating background, it is worth consulting the US web site insiderVC.com. The site provides data for companies in the industry, such as profit and loss allocations between the general partner and the investors (the carry), the exact rate of management fees, and exact investments and valuations for portfolio companies at the various financing rounds. Of course, the site also includes derivative data, such as the internal rate of return (IRR) and the realization ratio. In other words, it provides the tools needed to compare various organizations and even different funds within the same organization, information you will not get from your local venture capital management partner.
In order to gain access to all this data, you have to pay a considerable fee, but you can get a preview of the statistics and a sample of site editor Stephen Lisson’s sharp tongue free of charge. You won’t find better material on the web.
Published by Israel’s Business Arena on March 29, 2001
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January 18, 2014

2014 Stephen Lisson

Transparency. Let’s have a round of applause for CalPers, the giant state pension fund, for transparency. Beth Healy of the Boston Globe (8/17/2001) reports Money managers aghast that pension investor shows returns, rankings. It’s a report card that has rocked the secretive venture capital world, and one that even the `A’ students didn’t care to see displayed on the refrigerator. Calpers, the giant California pension fund that sets trends for many large investors, has posted on its Web site the performance of every venture or buyout fund in which it’s invested for the past decade. Firms typically guard these numbers carefully, but the Calpers chart even says which funds are meeting expectations, and which are disappointments. … The industry buzz around the report stems from the secrecy with which venture firms and buyout artists guard the specifics of their returns. Virtually every firm claims ”top quartile” performance, and the numbers they give out are suspect, venture analysts say. Steve Lisson of Austin, Texas, on his controversial Web site, InsiderVC.com, tracks venture returns by doing his own calculations on venture portfolios. He is the only independent source on such numbers and has drawn fire from some venture capitalists for breaking the code of silence. … over the long term, Calpers has been doing something right. As of March 31, its average annual return for 10 years of private equity investing was 17.5%. The Wilshire 2500 Index, a broad stock market benchmark, was up 13.9% in that period. Would that the federal government would do the same with alleged investment programs like SBIR.
Carl Nelson Consulting
http://www.carl-nelson.com/government2001.htm
Published by Carl Nelson Consulting, Inc, 1325 18th St NW, Washington DC 20036

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December 31, 2014 Steve Lisson, Uncategorized Austin Texas, Steve Lisson | Austin TX | Stephen N. Lisson | Austin Texas, Steve Lisson | Austin TX | Stephen N. Lisson | Austin Texas | Steve Lisson Austin TX | Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas Leave a comment

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Elite VC giants still investing – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Travis County, TX 512
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Stephen N. Lisson, Austin TX Stephen Lisson, StephenNLisson, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin Texas, Austin TX Thursday, January 16, 2014 Data Packet: Net Loss The New York Times This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers, please click here or use the “Reprints” tool that appears next to any article. Visit http://www.nytreprints.com for samples and additional information. Order a reprint of this article now. » March 23, 2001 Data Packet: Net Loss Free money: A year ago, venture capitalists were outbidding each other for stakes in fledgling companies. Now, as failures mount, venture firms are extracting new concessions from money-seeking entrepreneurs. “We’re finding we’re really able to insist” on new conditions to limit potential losses, said Tom Hirschfeld, managing director at J. & W. Seligman & Co., which manages about $1.8 billion in venture funds. Its investments include Inktomi Corp., ScreamingMedia Inc. and Stamps.com Inc. In four of Seligman’s five most recent investments, which the firm did not identify, it demanded and received a “liquidation preference” — a priority claim on assets if a business fails, Mr. Hirschfeld said. Three of the five companies set a minimum price on Seligman’s holdings should the start-up go public. That’s a stark reversal from when start-ups commanded ever-higher prices on their way to a quick initial public offering. “There is no question that VCs are getting more aggressive,” said Stephen Lisson, editor and publisher of InsiderVC.com, a research firm. “Provisions such as these are among the ways firms attempt to ensure upside for their funds.” Copyright 2014 The New York Times Company Home Privacy Policy Search Corrections XML Help Contact Us Back to Top Posted by Steve Lisson at 8:17 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson, StephenNLisson, Steve Lisson Newer Post Older Post Home Blog Archive ▼ 2014 (3) ▼ January (3) http://txcourts.wordpress.com/ http://texascourts.wordpress.com/ Data Packet: Net Loss ► 2013 (3) About Me Steve Lisson Steve Lisson | Austin TX | Stephen N. Lisson | Austin Texas | Steve Lisson Austin TX | Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas View my complete profile
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Steve Lisson | Steve Lisson Austin TX Steve Lisson, Austin TX, Steve Lisson Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin Texas, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas Sunday, December 1, 2013 Rumors of Benchmark’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Rumors of Benchmark’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, (512), 512, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, Lisson, Steve Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, (512), 512, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, Lisson, Steve Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM Rumors of Benchmark’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated For weeks, rumors have been circulating in the VC community that Benchmark Capital’s third fund, Benchmark III, was in trouble, hit hard by losses in e-commerce companies like 1-800-Flowers.com. Benchmark denies the rumors, and its limited partners say they never received the rumored letter that the fund was in trouble. An analysis of Benchmark’s portfolio appears to back up the firm, which despite the rumors, may not just be surviving, but thriving. Benchmark declined to discuss details, but the firm’s holdings as of June 30 were provided by Steve Lisson, the editor of InsiderVC.com, who tracks the performance of leading venture firms for high-paying clients. At first glance, Benchmark III had its share of overvalued B2C e-commerce firms like 1-800-Flowers.com (Nasdaq:FLWS) and Living.com. 1-800-Flowers.com was the fund’s biggest investment, at $18.9 million, and had been marked down to $8.1 million on June 30. The stock price has declined about 30% since then. “There are many private scenarios just like this public one, whereby even if the company can be kept afloat long enough to enjoy some success and eventually make it to a liquidity event, the venture investors will lose money,” Lisson said. But a closer look at Benchmark III reveals a fund with several potential winners, including Internet Data Exchange System company CoreExpress, an intelligent optical networking play. That investment alone could return limited partners’ money. Other potential winners include Sigma Networks, Keen.com, Netigy and BridgeSpan. And Benchmark’s newest fund, Benchmark IV, is already showing the markings of a winner, thanks to investments in Loudcloud, Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen’s latest venture, and TellMe Networks, whose valuation no doubt went up in its recent $125 million funding round. Lisson said the Benchmark rumors reflect a misunderstanding of how venture funds operate. “There’s a reason these are 10-year funds,” he said. “It’s called risk and illiquidity. The one monster hit could happen three, four or five years out. You can be wrong about 39 of 40 companies, and the market uncooperative, as long as one is an Inktomi. That is the history of this industry: one monster hit returning the entire fund. Singles and doubles won’t get you there.” At two years of age, Benchmark III still has plenty of time to deliver a big winner. In the meantime, the firm’s limited partners can enjoy the returns from Benchmark II, a three-year-old fund that has already distributed five times its partners capital, by Lisson’s estimate. Benchmark II boasted big winners like Handspring (Nasdaq:HAND), Critical Path (Nasdaq:CPTH), Red Hat (Nasdaq:RHAT), and Scient (Nasdaq:SCNT). Yes, Scient. Benchmark had the foresight to distribute shares of the Internet consultant to its limited partners at 200-300 times the firm’s cost. Benchmark isn’t any different from other venture firms, most of whom “drank the Kool-aid” of seemingly easy dot-com money, hoping the stock market would hold up long enough to vindicate those investments. But Lisson expects that some other firms won’t hold up as well. He expects a shakeout in the industry similar to the one that hit the industry from 1987-1991, when venture firms formed during the 1980s averaged single-digit returns, and roughly 20% of new entrants couldn’t return their partners’ capital. VCs’ own fundraising declined from $4.2 billion in 1987 to $1.3 billion in 1991. The $4 billion level of capital coming into the industry wasn’t reached again until 1995. “This is what’s supposed to happen in a downturn,” Lisson said. “People who shouldn’t be in the business, who contributed to the excesses and didn’t know what they were doing, will be forced out. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve seen too many new entrants into the industry, or too much money chasing too few deals.” And the ones that survive will have a chance to prove themselves in tough times, the ultimate mark of a winner. Lisson said a few venture firms stand out among their peers. Matrix Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia can normally be found at the top of the charts in each vintage year they raise a fund, he said, proving that “something’s in the water” at those firms. And he gives Oak high marks for consistency over a long period of time. But even top firms have an occasional weak fund, Lisson said. “But by the time you can make that judgment about a fund, you’ll have raised another fund and shown some early progress,” he said. Meaning that even if Benchmark III was a weak fund, Benchmark IV could keep the firm in its limited partners’ good graces for some time to come. “The moral is consistent performance over time relative to same vintage-year peers,” Lisson said. “You’re never as good or as bad as your current press clippings might indicate. The real test of Benchmark’s mettle will come when we can fairly evaluate whether the firm manages through and makes money, not just with small funds during the best times in the industry’s history, but with larger funds in the tough times ahead as well.” ——————————————————————————– © Copyright 2000, internet.com Corp. All Rights Reserved. Legal Notices, Privacy Policy, Reprints. Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM Posted by Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) at 8:46 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: (512), 512, AUSTIN, LISSON, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEPHEN N. LISSON, Steve, STEVE LISSON, STEVE N. LISSON, TEXAS, TRAVIS COUNTY, TX Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Blog Archive 2012 (1) July (1) Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N…. About Me Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) View my complete profile Posted by Stephen N. Lisson at 10:14 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX Elite VC giants still investing – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Texas Elite VC giants still investing – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Travis County, TX 512 STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, Elite VC giants still investing San Jose Mercury News Matt Marshall May 31, 2001 Now that they’ve gone gorilla size, will the elite venture capital firms help stem the downturn in venture capital investing? After the March 2000 market crash, elite VCs scrambled to triage their portfolios. Only recently have they started to peer out of the graveyard. But they’ve undergone a profound change in nature: They’ve become monsters. This is good if you’re an entrepreneur shooting for the moon. It’s fatal if not. In 1995, only one top-tier fund, TA Associates, had raised a billion dollars. But since the crash, 15 top-tier firms have raised funds of that size or more. Many — including Worldview Technology Partners, Greylock, Austin Ventures and Oak Investment Partners — announced their new funds this year, well after most of the market damage. Steve Lisson, of InsiderVC.com, says the amount of funds raised since the crash goes against the “drought” thesis. “The perception that there’s going to be less venture investing is totally misplaced,” he says. “These VCs need to get into lucrative investment opportunities, and they’re going to want larger stakes. They’re going to have to step on the gas even more.” Similarly, he adds, if an entrepreneur offers an opportunity for a “mega” investment, he’ll be able to negotiate more favorable terms, because the big venture capitalists will all want in. On the downside, entrepreneurs that don’t show home-run promise will struggle. True, some VCs that raised large funds say they have slowed their investment pace. Flip Gianos, partner at InterWest Partners, said his firm hadn’t expected the magnitude of the downturn when it raised its fund. If it takes waiting a year for strong opportunities to come along, VCs will wait, he says. Others counter that size has forced them to invest more in later-stage start-ups because they soak up more money. Michael Darby, general partner at Battery Ventures, says his firm still focuses on early stage deals, but “in this environment, the fact that we want to deploy capital means we’re looking at those later-stage deals.” There’s another reason for hope after the crash, Lisson says. Many VC firms have been able to negotiate stellar terms with their investors — even better than those they negotiated just a couple of years ago. That’s also a sign that investors still have faith in the VCs, he said. STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, Posted by Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) at 12:54 PM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: AUSTIN, LISSON STEPHAN, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEPHAN LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHEN N. LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE.LISSON, TEXAS, TRAVIS COUNTY, TX Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Blog Archive 2012 (1) July (1) STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHA… About Me Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) View my complete profile Posted by Stephen N. Lisson at 10:12 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor – Steve Lisson Austin TX Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor – Steve Lisson Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor – Steve Lisson STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, STEPHEN N. LISSON, COURT, STEPHEN LISSON, LISSON STEPHEN, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, COURT, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, PINTEREST, TUMBLR Classic Flipcard Magazine Mosaic Sidebar Snapshot Timeslide STEVE.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, COURT, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, COURT, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, TUMBLR, PINTEREST, FACEBOOK STEVE.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, COURT, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, COURT, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, TUMBLR, PINTEREST Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor Record labels say firm enabled infringement. Critics say the move may deter venture capitalists. April 23, 2003|Joseph Menn | Times Staff Writer Unable to extract their pound of flesh from bankrupt Napster Inc., two of the five major record labels are suing the venture capitalists who backed the defunct song-swapping service that turned music industry economics upside down. Universal Music and EMI filed a federal lawsuit against Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and two of the San Francisco firm’s general partners, Hank Barry and John Hummer, in Los Angeles on Monday. The suit claims that they contributed to the copyright violations by Napster’s tens of millions of users. In addition to seeking $150,000 per violation, the suit asks for punitive damages. It also is intended to dissuade investment in any of the song-swapping services that have risen in Napster’s place. “Businesses, as well as those individuals or entities who control them, premised on massive copyright infringement of works created by artists should face the legal consequences for their actions,” the record labels said in a statement. The suit may mark the first time an outside party has targeted a venture firm for wrongdoing by a company in which it invested. “I don’t know if this has ever happened before,” said Jeanne Metzger, vice president of the National Venture Capital Assn. The trade group and others warned that even if the labels lose the case, the fact that they sued will deter institutional investors from taking on a high level of risk with new companies. “It’s going to create an enormous amount of reluctance to get involved in anything that could draw litigation from the content industries,” said Silicon Valley intellectual property lawyer Mark Radcliffe. Barry and Hummer didn’t respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment Tuesday. Barry served as Napster’s chief executive for more than a year, and both men sat on Napster’s board. The suit claims that Hummer Winblad knew Napster was enabling massive infringement and that the firm controlled Napster’s activities with its general partners in the chief executive and director positions and through its $13-million investment in May 2000. The investment was made five months after the record industry — including the two labels — sued Napster for enabling infringement. Napster filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2002. Lawyers not involved in the case said Hummer Winblad has two reasonable defenses. First, Napster hadn’t yet lost the record industry suit when the firm invested. Second, directors and investors are rarely held liable for the acts of their companies. In those cases in which individuals are held responsible, they typically own 100% of the company at fault. The suit “is stretching contributory infringement way beyond where it’s ever gone,” said Wayne State University copyright law professor Jessica Litman. “I assume the purpose is to enhance the already significant chill discouraging people from investing in businesses that challenge the business models of the entrenched market leaders in the entertainment industry.” Indeed, a federal lawsuit filed by a music producer against Barry, Hummer Winblad and others was dismissed after a judge found that the accusations — similar to those in the record labels’ suit — were too vague and that there was nothing in the copyright law to punish people who assist an entity that assists others in breaking the law. “Courts have consistently held that liability for contributory infringement requires substantial participation in a specific act of direct infringement,” U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel wrote in that case. But the two record labels may have evidence of specific actions by the venture firm’s principals. And Hummer Winblad could be hurt by the fact that Napster lost most of its court battles. The plaintiffs have “a reasonable shot at the officer. I think the director is a little tougher, and the shareholder theory is really tough,” said Radcliffe, who represents technology and entertainment firms. Barry and Hummer anticipated that they might be sued and tried to negotiate protection from legal consequences when German media firm Bertelsmann was planning to buy Napster early last year. Those talks foundered, and Bertelsmann itself has been sued for its investment in Napster. The venture capital trade association complained that with such actions against investors, “the ability of entrenched industries to deter investment in next-generation technologies has profoundly anti-competitive and anti-innovative implications.” But not everyone agreed that the labels’ suit will change how Silicon Valley firms invest. As the suit notes, other venture firms had deep concerns about Napster’s legality and didn’t invest. “Top firms don’t take their cue from Hummer,” said Steve Lisson, publisher of InsiderVC.com. Los Angeles Times Articles Copyright 2013 Los Angeles Times Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Index by Date | Index by Keyword STEVE.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, COURT, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, COURT, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, COURT, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, TUMBLR, PINTEREST Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) Labels: AUSTIN COURT FACEBOOK LISSON STEPHAN STEPHAN LISSON STEPHAN N. LISSON STEPHEN LISSON STEPHEN N. LISSON STEVE LISSON STEVE.LISSON TEXAS TRAVIS COUNTY TX Posted by Stephen N. Lisson at 10:09 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX Steve Lisson Austin TX Steve Lisson, Austin, Texas Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Texas Behind the VC Music Day of E-tonement Facebook Fallen VC Idols FourSquare How to rate a venture capital firm InsiderVChomepage1 InsiderVChomepage2 Instagram Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers: It’s good to be king NVCA Advocates More Confidentiality on Returns Pinterest Selected Buzz Descending in Chronological Order Steve Lisson Tumblr Twitter WALTHAM’S MATRIX LEADING VENTURE PACK ON BOTH COASTS What’s a VC to Do? Sitemap Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Texas Steve Lisson Austin TX Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Texas Home Stephen N. Lisson Austin TX Behind the VC Music Day of E-tonement Facebook Fallen VC Idols FourSquare How to rate a venture capital firm InsiderVChomepage1 InsiderVChomepage2 Instagram Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers: It’s good to be king NVCA Advocates More Confidentiality on Returns Pinterest Selected Buzz Descending in Chronological Order Steve Lisson Steve Lisson Austin TX Tumblr Twitter Venture Capital Financing Is Further Sapped by Events WALTHAM’S MATRIX LEADING VENTURE PACK ON BOTH COASTS What’s a VC to Do? Sitemap Posted by Stephen N. Lisson at 10:01 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Texas Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Texas Behind the VC Music Day of E-tonement Facebook Fallen VC Idols FourSquare How to rate a venture capital firm InsiderVChomepage1 InsiderVChomepage2 Instagram Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers: It’s good to be king NVCA Advocates More Confidentiality on Returns Pinterest Selected Buzz Descending in Chronological Order Steve Lisson Tumblr Twitter Venture Capital Financing Is Further Sapped by Events WALTHAM’S MATRIX LEADING VENTURE PACK ON BOTH COASTS What’s a VC to Do? Sitemap Posted by Stephen N. Lisson at 9:41 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Blog Archive 2013 (5) December (5) Rumors of Benchmark’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated -… Elite VC giants still investing – Steve Lisson, St… Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor – Steve Lisson… Steve Lisson Austin TX Stephen N. 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How to rate a venture capital firm
By Lawrence Aragon
April 16, 2001
Red Herring explains how it came up with its list of top venture capital firms
for the 2001 version of the Red Herring 100: Kleiner Perkins Caufield and
Byers, Accel Partners, Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital Partners, and runner-
ups Oak Investment Partners, Mayfield, Greylock, Menlo Ventures, North
Bridge Venture Partners, and Benchmark Capital.
Venture capital is like baseball without the stats. There are great arguments
about who’s the best — and worst — VC around. But unlike baseball fans, those
who follow venture capital have scant data on which to base their opinions.
Until now.
As part of our annual Red Herring 100, we set out to determine the top ten VC
firms using the best metrics we could come up with. To our knowledge, this is
the first time anyone has come up with a list based on more than a single
metric, such as the internal rate of return (IRR).
Before we get into each of the ten factors we examined, allow us a brief
explanation as to why we didn’t include the most common metric: IRR. IRR is
a number determined by each VC firm, and although it’s bandied about
frequently, it can be easily tweaked to make a firm look like it’s doing better
than it actually is. It isn’t uncommon for a VC that isn’t performing very well to
inflate its IRR by counting its own “carry,” the money it makes from
investments, into its IRR.
The only real way to know how a VC firm is performing is to look at its
disbursements to its limited partners (LPs). This is the actual stock or money
that VCs get from a liquidity event — that is, a portfolio company’s IPO or its
sale to another company. The only problem is, VCs don’t want to share this
information.
Enter Steve Lisson, editor of InsiderVC.com, a venture capital research firm.
Mr. Lisson has been able to infiltrate the closemouthed community of LPs and
get its members to share disbursement figures. We asked Mr. Lisson to come
up with a list of the best ten VCs in the country, based on disbursements to LPs
and how consistently they have returned the big bucks to LPs.
Here, then, are the top ten venture capital firms: Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
Byers, Accel Partners, Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital Partners, Oak
Investment Partners, Mayfield, Greylock, Menlo Ventures, North Bridge
Venture Partners, and Benchmark Capital. The top four firms (the first four
listed) made it into the Red Herring 100. Now, on to our criteria: underneath
the chart just below we review in depth the ten factors we rated the companies
on.
1. Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
Byers 10 10 10 6 10 9 10 5 10 109.09
2.Accel Partners 9 9 8.58 10 9 9 5 10 108.77
3. Matrix Partners 9 10 10 9 5 10 10 10 4 6 8.36
4. Sequoia Capital Partners 6 10 9.5 8 10 7.5 10 5.5 2 4 7.14
(tied) Oak Investment
Partners 8 10 6.5 10 2 5 10 7 2 107.14
(tied) Mayfield 7 10 9.5 7 10 8 10 6 0 4 7.14
7. Greylock 6 10 10 9 4 9 10 7 6 0 7.00
8. Menlo Ventures 8 10 5.5 8 3 10 6.5 7.5 2 2 6.41
9. North Bridge Venture
Partners 7 3.5 10 7 6 9 8 9.5 0 2 6.27
10. Benchmark Capital 7 3 6.5 7 3 8 1 4 10 2 5.32
Average7.7 8.55 8.6 7.9 6.3 8.45 8.45 6.65 4.6 5 7.26
1 The disbursement category is weighted twice that of other categories. Data from Steve Lisson,
editor of InsiderVC.com.
2 Operating experience counts VP level and above.
Disbursements.
Mr. Lisson gave a score of 10 to just one VC firm: Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
Byers. Benchmark Capital, which has had some monster hits in the past couple
of years, scored a 7, because it has only been around for six years.
Longevity.
In the venture business, age counts for a lot. It means a firm has been battle-
tested and has done well enough to get its LPs to continue investing. We took
each firm’s number of years in business and divided that figure in half to come
up with a score (with a maximum score of 10). Six firms earned a 10. Two firms
came up short: Benchmark and North Bridge Venture Partners, with scores of
3 and 3.5, respectively.
Pressure to invest.
A general partner is better off if there isn’t pressure to put a lot of money to
work. We divided the amount of a firm’s current fund size by its number of
general partners, then assigned a value to the resulting figure. After talking to
several VCs, we determined that $90 million per partner was reasonable to
assign a score of 10. We gave a 9 to anyone managing $110 million, an 8 to
those managing $130 million, and so on.
VC experience.
This should be self-explanatory as to why it’s important. We gave general
partners with 15 years or more of experience a score of 10. Those with 12 to 14
years received a 9, and so forth. Oak Investment Partners came out on top in
this category, with an average of 17 years for its partners. Even though Kleiner
has at least three partners with more than 20 years of experience, its score got
knocked down to a 7 because it recently added some technology executives to
its partnership.
Operating experience.
With so many portfolio companies in trouble these days, every VC firm needs
partners who’ve been in the real world to advise troubled companies. We gave
each firm a point for any general partner with operating experience, plus a
bonus point for any partner who qualified as a “star.” General partners who fell
into the star category include Kleiner’s Ray Lane, former president and chief
operating officer (some say the de facto CEO) of Oracle, and Mayfield’s Janice
Roberts, who ran Palm when it was a division of 3Com.
Board seats.
Six boards is the maximum number you can sit on and still actually contribute
valuable time and energy, we’re told by veteran VCs. Menlo Ventures and
Matrix Partners were the only firms whose partners sat on an average of six or
fewer boards, giving them perfect 10s. We gave firms whose partners held an
average of seven to eight board seats a score of 9, and so on. Oak fared the
worst: its six general partners sit on an average of 12 boards each.
IPOs/Sales.
This is one of those categories that VCs like to brag about, but it can often be
misleading. Two firms may be in the same IPO, but one may own 15 percent of
a company while another owns 1 percent. The only real way to know how well a
VC did in an IPO is through disbursement figures. Still, we felt we should give
VCs some credit for liquidity events. We gave a firm one point for every $1
billion in value, with a maximum of 10 points for $10 billion. IPO figures were
based on the close on the first day of trading. Sale prices were based on the
value on the day the deal closed. A lot of moonshot IPOs have fallen back to
earth, so this category is squishy at best.
Lack of portfolio problems.
Matrix was the only firm on our list that had no failed or troubled companies.
We gave each firm 1 point for every failed company and half a point for every
company that had laid off employees in the past year. We then subtracted that
total from 10. Benchmark fared the worst in this category with a score of 4.
Blame it on those Internet bets like Living.com, MVP.com, and Send.com.
RH 100 factor (2000 and 2001).
VCs deserve credit for portfolio companies that show great promise. Because
the staff of Red Herring spent weeks vetting all of the companies that made the
Red Herring 100 list, we used the private portion of the list (50 companies) in
2000 and 2001 as a basis for determining potential hits. For every portfolio
company on the Red Herring 100, we gave a firm 2 points, with a maximum of
10. Kleiner and Accel Partners were the only firms to receive 10s for both years.
Kleiner had the most companies on this year’s list: Zaplet, Epoch, Synaptics,
SmartPipes, Asera, and Bowstreet.
As much time as we spent thinking about how to create a top ten VC list, and
then double- and triple-checking the data, we’d be nave if we didn’t expect
some VCs to take issue with our numbers or our methodology. So, don’t feel
shy about expressing your opinion.
Write to laragon@redherring.com.
Note: In the “Top 10 VC Firms” on page 185 of issue 97, Menlo Ventures
should have been ranked No. 8 and North Bridge Ventures should have been
No. 9. In addition, we did not make it clear that three firms tied for 4th place:
Sequoia Capital Partners, Oak Investment Partners, and Mayfield. The data
is correct here.
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Stephen N. Lisson, Austin TX Stephen Lisson, StephenNLisson, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin Texas, Austin TX Thursday, January 16, 2014 Data Packet: Net Loss The New York Times This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers, please click here or use the “Reprints” tool that appears next to any article. Visit http://www.nytreprints.com for samples and additional information. Order a reprint of this article now. » March 23, 2001 Data Packet: Net Loss Free money: A year ago, venture capitalists were outbidding each other for stakes in fledgling companies. Now, as failures mount, venture firms are extracting new concessions from money-seeking entrepreneurs. “We’re finding we’re really able to insist” on new conditions to limit potential losses, said Tom Hirschfeld, managing director at J. & W. Seligman & Co., which manages about $1.8 billion in venture funds. Its investments include Inktomi Corp., ScreamingMedia Inc. and Stamps.com Inc. In four of Seligman’s five most recent investments, which the firm did not identify, it demanded and received a “liquidation preference” — a priority claim on assets if a business fails, Mr. Hirschfeld said. Three of the five companies set a minimum price on Seligman’s holdings should the start-up go public. That’s a stark reversal from when start-ups commanded ever-higher prices on their way to a quick initial public offering. “There is no question that VCs are getting more aggressive,” said Stephen Lisson, editor and publisher of InsiderVC.com, a research firm. “Provisions such as these are among the ways firms attempt to ensure upside for their funds.” Copyright 2014 The New York Times Company Home Privacy Policy Search Corrections XML Help Contact Us Back to Top Posted by Steve Lisson at 8:17 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson, StephenNLisson, Steve Lisson Newer Post Older Post Home Blog Archive ▼ 2014 (3) ▼ January (3) http://txcourts.wordpress.com/ http://texascourts.wordpress.com/ Data Packet: Net Loss ► 2013 (3) About Me Steve Lisson Steve Lisson | Austin TX | Stephen N. Lisson | Austin Texas | Steve Lisson Austin TX | Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas View my complete profile

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December 1, 2013 AUSTIN, Austin Texas, Austin TX, Lisson, LISSON STEPHAN, LISSON STEPHEN N, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX, Steve Lisson Austin TX Steve Lisson, TEXAS, Travis County Texas Leave a comment

Steve Lisson | Steve Lisson Austin TX Steve Lisson, Austin TX, Steve Lisson Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin Texas, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas Sunday, December 1, 2013 Rumors of Benchmark’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Rumors of Benchmark’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, (512), 512, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, Lisson, Steve Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, (512), 512, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, Lisson, Steve Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM Rumors of Benchmark’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated For weeks, rumors have been circulating in the VC community that Benchmark Capital’s third fund, Benchmark III, was in trouble, hit hard by losses in e-commerce companies like 1-800-Flowers.com. Benchmark denies the rumors, and its limited partners say they never received the rumored letter that the fund was in trouble. An analysis of Benchmark’s portfolio appears to back up the firm, which despite the rumors, may not just be surviving, but thriving. Benchmark declined to discuss details, but the firm’s holdings as of June 30 were provided by Steve Lisson, the editor of InsiderVC.com, who tracks the performance of leading venture firms for high-paying clients. At first glance, Benchmark III had its share of overvalued B2C e-commerce firms like 1-800-Flowers.com (Nasdaq:FLWS) and Living.com. 1-800-Flowers.com was the fund’s biggest investment, at $18.9 million, and had been marked down to $8.1 million on June 30. The stock price has declined about 30% since then. “There are many private scenarios just like this public one, whereby even if the company can be kept afloat long enough to enjoy some success and eventually make it to a liquidity event, the venture investors will lose money,” Lisson said. But a closer look at Benchmark III reveals a fund with several potential winners, including Internet Data Exchange System company CoreExpress, an intelligent optical networking play. That investment alone could return limited partners’ money. Other potential winners include Sigma Networks, Keen.com, Netigy and BridgeSpan. And Benchmark’s newest fund, Benchmark IV, is already showing the markings of a winner, thanks to investments in Loudcloud, Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen’s latest venture, and TellMe Networks, whose valuation no doubt went up in its recent $125 million funding round. Lisson said the Benchmark rumors reflect a misunderstanding of how venture funds operate. “There’s a reason these are 10-year funds,” he said. “It’s called risk and illiquidity. The one monster hit could happen three, four or five years out. You can be wrong about 39 of 40 companies, and the market uncooperative, as long as one is an Inktomi. That is the history of this industry: one monster hit returning the entire fund. Singles and doubles won’t get you there.” At two years of age, Benchmark III still has plenty of time to deliver a big winner. In the meantime, the firm’s limited partners can enjoy the returns from Benchmark II, a three-year-old fund that has already distributed five times its partners capital, by Lisson’s estimate. Benchmark II boasted big winners like Handspring (Nasdaq:HAND), Critical Path (Nasdaq:CPTH), Red Hat (Nasdaq:RHAT), and Scient (Nasdaq:SCNT). Yes, Scient. Benchmark had the foresight to distribute shares of the Internet consultant to its limited partners at 200-300 times the firm’s cost. Benchmark isn’t any different from other venture firms, most of whom “drank the Kool-aid” of seemingly easy dot-com money, hoping the stock market would hold up long enough to vindicate those investments. But Lisson expects that some other firms won’t hold up as well. He expects a shakeout in the industry similar to the one that hit the industry from 1987-1991, when venture firms formed during the 1980s averaged single-digit returns, and roughly 20% of new entrants couldn’t return their partners’ capital. VCs’ own fundraising declined from $4.2 billion in 1987 to $1.3 billion in 1991. The $4 billion level of capital coming into the industry wasn’t reached again until 1995. “This is what’s supposed to happen in a downturn,” Lisson said. “People who shouldn’t be in the business, who contributed to the excesses and didn’t know what they were doing, will be forced out. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve seen too many new entrants into the industry, or too much money chasing too few deals.” And the ones that survive will have a chance to prove themselves in tough times, the ultimate mark of a winner. Lisson said a few venture firms stand out among their peers. Matrix Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia can normally be found at the top of the charts in each vintage year they raise a fund, he said, proving that “something’s in the water” at those firms. And he gives Oak high marks for consistency over a long period of time. But even top firms have an occasional weak fund, Lisson said. “But by the time you can make that judgment about a fund, you’ll have raised another fund and shown some early progress,” he said. Meaning that even if Benchmark III was a weak fund, Benchmark IV could keep the firm in its limited partners’ good graces for some time to come. “The moral is consistent performance over time relative to same vintage-year peers,” Lisson said. “You’re never as good or as bad as your current press clippings might indicate. The real test of Benchmark’s mettle will come when we can fairly evaluate whether the firm manages through and makes money, not just with small funds during the best times in the industry’s history, but with larger funds in the tough times ahead as well.” ——————————————————————————– © Copyright 2000, internet.com Corp. All Rights Reserved. Legal Notices, Privacy Policy, Reprints. Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM Posted by Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) at 8:46 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: (512), 512, AUSTIN, LISSON, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEPHEN N. LISSON, Steve, STEVE LISSON, STEVE N. LISSON, TEXAS, TRAVIS COUNTY, TX Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Blog Archive 2012 (1) July (1) Steve Lisson, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, STEPHEN N…. About Me Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) View my complete profile Posted by Stephen N. Lisson at 10:14 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX Elite VC giants still investing – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Texas Elite VC giants still investing – Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson, Austin, Travis County, TX 512 STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, STEVE LISSON, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, Elite VC giants still investing San Jose Mercury News Matt Marshall May 31, 2001 Now that they’ve gone gorilla size, will the elite venture capital firms help stem the downturn in venture capital investing? After the March 2000 market crash, elite VCs scrambled to triage their portfolios. Only recently have they started to peer out of the graveyard. But they’ve undergone a profound change in nature: They’ve become monsters. This is good if you’re an entrepreneur shooting for the moon. It’s fatal if not. In 1995, only one top-tier fund, TA Associates, had raised a billion dollars. But since the crash, 15 top-tier firms have raised funds of that size or more. Many — including Worldview Technology Partners, Greylock, Austin Ventures and Oak Investment Partners — announced their new funds this year, well after most of the market damage. Steve Lisson, of InsiderVC.com, says the amount of funds raised since the crash goes against the “drought” thesis. “The perception that there’s going to be less venture investing is totally misplaced,” he says. “These VCs need to get into lucrative investment opportunities, and they’re going to want larger stakes. They’re going to have to step on the gas even more.” Similarly, he adds, if an entrepreneur offers an opportunity for a “mega” investment, he’ll be able to negotiate more favorable terms, because the big venture capitalists will all want in. On the downside, entrepreneurs that don’t show home-run promise will struggle. True, some VCs that raised large funds say they have slowed their investment pace. Flip Gianos, partner at InterWest Partners, said his firm hadn’t expected the magnitude of the downturn when it raised its fund. If it takes waiting a year for strong opportunities to come along, VCs will wait, he says. Others counter that size has forced them to invest more in later-stage start-ups because they soak up more money. Michael Darby, general partner at Battery Ventures, says his firm still focuses on early stage deals, but “in this environment, the fact that we want to deploy capital means we’re looking at those later-stage deals.” There’s another reason for hope after the crash, Lisson says. Many VC firms have been able to negotiate stellar terms with their investors — even better than those they negotiated just a couple of years ago. That’s also a sign that investors still have faith in the VCs, he said. STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, Posted by Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) at 12:54 PM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: AUSTIN, LISSON STEPHAN, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEPHAN LISSON, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHEN N. LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE.LISSON, TEXAS, TRAVIS COUNTY, TX Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Blog Archive 2012 (1) July (1) STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, STEPHA… About Me Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) View my complete profile Posted by Stephen N. Lisson at 10:12 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor – Steve Lisson Austin TX Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor – Steve Lisson Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor – Steve Lisson STEVE.LISSON, STEVE LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, STEPHEN N. LISSON, COURT, STEPHEN LISSON, LISSON STEPHEN, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, COURT, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, PINTEREST, TUMBLR Classic Flipcard Magazine Mosaic Sidebar Snapshot Timeslide STEVE.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, COURT, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, COURT, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, TUMBLR, PINTEREST, FACEBOOK STEVE.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, COURT, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, COURT, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, TUMBLR, PINTEREST Universal, EMI Sue Napster Investor Record labels say firm enabled infringement. Critics say the move may deter venture capitalists. April 23, 2003|Joseph Menn | Times Staff Writer Unable to extract their pound of flesh from bankrupt Napster Inc., two of the five major record labels are suing the venture capitalists who backed the defunct song-swapping service that turned music industry economics upside down. Universal Music and EMI filed a federal lawsuit against Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and two of the San Francisco firm’s general partners, Hank Barry and John Hummer, in Los Angeles on Monday. The suit claims that they contributed to the copyright violations by Napster’s tens of millions of users. In addition to seeking $150,000 per violation, the suit asks for punitive damages. It also is intended to dissuade investment in any of the song-swapping services that have risen in Napster’s place. “Businesses, as well as those individuals or entities who control them, premised on massive copyright infringement of works created by artists should face the legal consequences for their actions,” the record labels said in a statement. The suit may mark the first time an outside party has targeted a venture firm for wrongdoing by a company in which it invested. “I don’t know if this has ever happened before,” said Jeanne Metzger, vice president of the National Venture Capital Assn. The trade group and others warned that even if the labels lose the case, the fact that they sued will deter institutional investors from taking on a high level of risk with new companies. “It’s going to create an enormous amount of reluctance to get involved in anything that could draw litigation from the content industries,” said Silicon Valley intellectual property lawyer Mark Radcliffe. Barry and Hummer didn’t respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment Tuesday. Barry served as Napster’s chief executive for more than a year, and both men sat on Napster’s board. The suit claims that Hummer Winblad knew Napster was enabling massive infringement and that the firm controlled Napster’s activities with its general partners in the chief executive and director positions and through its $13-million investment in May 2000. The investment was made five months after the record industry — including the two labels — sued Napster for enabling infringement. Napster filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2002. Lawyers not involved in the case said Hummer Winblad has two reasonable defenses. First, Napster hadn’t yet lost the record industry suit when the firm invested. Second, directors and investors are rarely held liable for the acts of their companies. In those cases in which individuals are held responsible, they typically own 100% of the company at fault. The suit “is stretching contributory infringement way beyond where it’s ever gone,” said Wayne State University copyright law professor Jessica Litman. “I assume the purpose is to enhance the already significant chill discouraging people from investing in businesses that challenge the business models of the entrenched market leaders in the entertainment industry.” Indeed, a federal lawsuit filed by a music producer against Barry, Hummer Winblad and others was dismissed after a judge found that the accusations — similar to those in the record labels’ suit — were too vague and that there was nothing in the copyright law to punish people who assist an entity that assists others in breaking the law. “Courts have consistently held that liability for contributory infringement requires substantial participation in a specific act of direct infringement,” U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel wrote in that case. But the two record labels may have evidence of specific actions by the venture firm’s principals. And Hummer Winblad could be hurt by the fact that Napster lost most of its court battles. The plaintiffs have “a reasonable shot at the officer. I think the director is a little tougher, and the shareholder theory is really tough,” said Radcliffe, who represents technology and entertainment firms. Barry and Hummer anticipated that they might be sued and tried to negotiate protection from legal consequences when German media firm Bertelsmann was planning to buy Napster early last year. Those talks foundered, and Bertelsmann itself has been sued for its investment in Napster. The venture capital trade association complained that with such actions against investors, “the ability of entrenched industries to deter investment in next-generation technologies has profoundly anti-competitive and anti-innovative implications.” But not everyone agreed that the labels’ suit will change how Silicon Valley firms invest. As the suit notes, other venture firms had deep concerns about Napster’s legality and didn’t invest. “Top firms don’t take their cue from Hummer,” said Steve Lisson, publisher of InsiderVC.com. Los Angeles Times Articles Copyright 2013 Los Angeles Times Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Index by Date | Index by Keyword STEVE.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, COURT, STEVE LISSON, STEPHEN LISSON, COURT, STEPHAN N. LISSON, STEPHAN LISSON, LISSON STEPHAN, AUSTIN, TX, TEXAS, COURT, STEPHEN N. LISSON, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS, LISSON STEPHEN N., STEVE N. LISSON, STEVE, LISSON, INSIDER, VC, INSIDERVC, INSIDERVC.COM, (512), STEPHEN.LISSON, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, LINKED IN, TWITTER, TUMBLR, PINTEREST Stephen N. “Steve” Lisson, Austin, Travis County, Texas (512) Labels: AUSTIN COURT FACEBOOK LISSON STEPHAN STEPHAN LISSON STEPHAN N. LISSON STEPHEN LISSON STEPHEN N. LISSON STEVE LISSON STEVE.LISSON TEXAS TRAVIS COUNTY TX Posted by Stephen N. Lisson at 10:09 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Labels: Austin Texas, Austin TX, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson Austin Texas, Steve Lisson, Steve Lisson Austin TX Steve Lisson Austin TX Steve Lisson, Austin, Texas Stephen N. 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Thursday, October 16, 2014

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How to rate a venture capital firm
By Lawrence Aragon
April 16, 2001
Red Herring explains how it came up with its list of top venture capital firms
for the 2001 version of the Red Herring 100: Kleiner Perkins Caufield and
Byers, Accel Partners, Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital Partners, and runner-
ups Oak Investment Partners, Mayfield, Greylock, Menlo Ventures, North
Bridge Venture Partners, and Benchmark Capital.
Venture capital is like baseball without the stats. There are great arguments
about who’s the best — and worst — VC around. But unlike baseball fans, those
who follow venture capital have scant data on which to base their opinions.
Until now.
As part of our annual Red Herring 100, we set out to determine the top ten VC
firms using the best metrics we could come up with. To our knowledge, this is
the first time anyone has come up with a list based on more than a single
metric, such as the internal rate of return (IRR).
Before we get into each of the ten factors we examined, allow us a brief
explanation as to why we didn’t include the most common metric: IRR. IRR is
a number determined by each VC firm, and although it’s bandied about
frequently, it can be easily tweaked to make a firm look like it’s doing better
than it actually is. It isn’t uncommon for a VC that isn’t performing very well to
inflate its IRR by counting its own “carry,” the money it makes from
investments, into its IRR.
The only real way to know how a VC firm is performing is to look at its
disbursements to its limited partners (LPs). This is the actual stock or money
that VCs get from a liquidity event — that is, a portfolio company’s IPO or its
sale to another company. The only problem is, VCs don’t want to share this
information.
Enter Steve Lisson, editor of InsiderVC.com, a venture capital research firm.
Mr. Lisson has been able to infiltrate the closemouthed community of LPs and
get its members to share disbursement figures. We asked Mr. Lisson to come
up with a list of the best ten VCs in the country, based on disbursements to LPs
and how consistently they have returned the big bucks to LPs.
Here, then, are the top ten venture capital firms: Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
Byers, Accel Partners, Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital Partners, Oak
Investment Partners, Mayfield, Greylock, Menlo Ventures, North Bridge
Venture Partners, and Benchmark Capital. The top four firms (the first four
listed) made it into the Red Herring 100. Now, on to our criteria: underneath
the chart just below we review in depth the ten factors we rated the companies
on.
1. Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
Byers 10 10 10 6 10 9 10 5 10 109.09
2.Accel Partners 9 9 8.58 10 9 9 5 10 108.77
3. Matrix Partners 9 10 10 9 5 10 10 10 4 6 8.36
4. Sequoia Capital Partners 6 10 9.5 8 10 7.5 10 5.5 2 4 7.14
(tied) Oak Investment
Partners 8 10 6.5 10 2 5 10 7 2 107.14
(tied) Mayfield 7 10 9.5 7 10 8 10 6 0 4 7.14
7. Greylock 6 10 10 9 4 9 10 7 6 0 7.00
8. Menlo Ventures 8 10 5.5 8 3 10 6.5 7.5 2 2 6.41
9. North Bridge Venture
Partners 7 3.5 10 7 6 9 8 9.5 0 2 6.27
10. Benchmark Capital 7 3 6.5 7 3 8 1 4 10 2 5.32
Average7.7 8.55 8.6 7.9 6.3 8.45 8.45 6.65 4.6 5 7.26
1 The disbursement category is weighted twice that of other categories. Data from Steve Lisson,
editor of InsiderVC.com.
2 Operating experience counts VP level and above.
Disbursements.
Mr. Lisson gave a score of 10 to just one VC firm: Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
Byers. Benchmark Capital, which has had some monster hits in the past couple
of years, scored a 7, because it has only been around for six years.
Longevity.
In the venture business, age counts for a lot. It means a firm has been battle-
tested and has done well enough to get its LPs to continue investing. We took
each firm’s number of years in business and divided that figure in half to come
up with a score (with a maximum score of 10). Six firms earned a 10. Two firms
came up short: Benchmark and North Bridge Venture Partners, with scores of
3 and 3.5, respectively.
Pressure to invest.
A general partner is better off if there isn’t pressure to put a lot of money to
work. We divided the amount of a firm’s current fund size by its number of
general partners, then assigned a value to the resulting figure. After talking to
several VCs, we determined that $90 million per partner was reasonable to
assign a score of 10. We gave a 9 to anyone managing $110 million, an 8 to
those managing $130 million, and so on.
VC experience.
This should be self-explanatory as to why it’s important. We gave general
partners with 15 years or more of experience a score of 10. Those with 12 to 14
years received a 9, and so forth. Oak Investment Partners came out on top in
this category, with an average of 17 years for its partners. Even though Kleiner
has at least three partners with more than 20 years of experience, its score got
knocked down to a 7 because it recently added some technology executives to
its partnership.
Operating experience.
With so many portfolio companies in trouble these days, every VC firm needs
partners who’ve been in the real world to advise troubled companies. We gave
each firm a point for any general partner with operating experience, plus a
bonus point for any partner who qualified as a “star.” General partners who fell
into the star category include Kleiner’s Ray Lane, former president and chief
operating officer (some say the de facto CEO) of Oracle, and Mayfield’s Janice
Roberts, who ran Palm when it was a division of 3Com.
Board seats.
Six boards is the maximum number you can sit on and still actually contribute
valuable time and energy, we’re told by veteran VCs. Menlo Ventures and
Matrix Partners were the only firms whose partners sat on an average of six or
fewer boards, giving them perfect 10s. We gave firms whose partners held an
average of seven to eight board seats a score of 9, and so on. Oak fared the
worst: its six general partners sit on an average of 12 boards each.
IPOs/Sales.
This is one of those categories that VCs like to brag about, but it can often be
misleading. Two firms may be in the same IPO, but one may own 15 percent of
a company while another owns 1 percent. The only real way to know how well a
VC did in an IPO is through disbursement figures. Still, we felt we should give
VCs some credit for liquidity events. We gave a firm one point for every $1
billion in value, with a maximum of 10 points for $10 billion. IPO figures were
based on the close on the first day of trading. Sale prices were based on the
value on the day the deal closed. A lot of moonshot IPOs have fallen back to
earth, so this category is squishy at best.
Lack of portfolio problems.
Matrix was the only firm on our list that had no failed or troubled companies.
We gave each firm 1 point for every failed company and half a point for every
company that had laid off employees in the past year. We then subtracted that
total from 10. Benchmark fared the worst in this category with a score of 4.
Blame it on those Internet bets like Living.com, MVP.com, and Send.com.
RH 100 factor (2000 and 2001).
VCs deserve credit for portfolio companies that show great promise. Because
the staff of Red Herring spent weeks vetting all of the companies that made the
Red Herring 100 list, we used the private portion of the list (50 companies) in
2000 and 2001 as a basis for determining potential hits. For every portfolio
company on the Red Herring 100, we gave a firm 2 points, with a maximum of
10. Kleiner and Accel Partners were the only firms to receive 10s for both years.
Kleiner had the most companies on this year’s list: Zaplet, Epoch, Synaptics,
SmartPipes, Asera, and Bowstreet.
As much time as we spent thinking about how to create a top ten VC list, and
then double- and triple-checking the data, we’d be nave if we didn’t expect
some VCs to take issue with our numbers or our methodology. So, don’t feel
shy about expressing your opinion.
Write to laragon@redherring.com.
Note: In the “Top 10 VC Firms” on page 185 of issue 97, Menlo Ventures
should have been ranked No. 8 and North Bridge Ventures should have been
No. 9. In addition, we did not make it clear that three firms tied for 4th place:
Sequoia Capital Partners, Oak Investment Partners, and Mayfield. The data
is correct here.
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Matrix Edges Kleiner
by Paul Shread

January 29, 2001–Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Matrix Partners are considered the cream of the crop among venture capital firms, the kind of VCs that limited partners are fortunate to be able to invest their money with.
So compliments paid, we set out to find out which was better.
Using the data of Steve Lisson, editor of InsiderVC.com, who tracks VCs’ performance and considers Matrix and Kleiner the top VCs, we applied a metric suggested by former Flatiron partner Dan Malven, which we will call the “Malven Metric.”
Malven suggested the metric after our piece comparing Kleiner’s performance in the IPO market last year with four other firms. In short, we divide overall performance by the number of partners, thus measuring wealth created per partner.
Malven cautions that that measure of performance could be skewed if each partner at one firm has a lot more to invest than partners at another firm, but Kleiner and Matrix appear pretty evenly matched. Matrix IV in 1995 was a $125 million fund (and had distributed 11 times that amount to its limited partners by the middle of last year, according to Lisson), and Matrix V in 1998 was a $200 million fund that had already distributed four times its LPs’ capital by mid-2000. Using the conservative figure of five partners during the time that 2000 IPOs were being funded, that means Matrix partners had $65 million each to work with. (We did not include Matrix VI, a $304 million fund that was only 30% invested as of June 30 last year.)
Kleiner VIII in 1996 was a $299 million fund that had returned 12 times its LPs’ capital by mid-2000, according to Lisson. Kleiner IX in 1999 was a $460 million fund that was 80% invested by mid-2000. Using the conservative figure of 13 partners, Kleiner partners had $58 million each to work with.
Now on to the 2000 results. Ten of Kleiner’s companies went public in 2000 (0.77 IPO per partner), compared to 4 for Matrix (0.80 IPO per partner). Kleiner’s stake in those companies was worth about $2.3 billion when the lock-up period expired (one company, Cosine Communications, is still in lock-up, and Kleiner’s stake in the company is worth about $100 million). Matrix’s stake in its four IPOs was worth about $1.6 billion when they came out of lock-up. That gives Matrix a per-partner return of $320 million, and Kleiner $177 million, giving the edge in per-partner wealth creation to Matrix.
A few caveats on those results. First, we measured performance in the IPO market only; we did not look at acquisitions, the number of which often exceeds IPOs in a given year. Second, Kleiner has two health care partners, according to Malven. Since health care companies had a tough year in the IPO market last year (Kleiner had no health care IPOs), reporting the results based on IT partners only raises Kleiner’s per-partner wealth creation to $209 million. We certainly want our top VCs to focus on the future of health care regardless of market conditions, and there’s been quite a debate going on within the venture capital industry about IT versus health care investing. The third caveat is that Kleiner IX is the newest of the funds measured, so that too could give Matrix an edge. But don’t feel too bad for Kleiner; according to Lisson, 6-year-old Kleiner VII was the best-performing venture fund last year, still riding high on its monster hit Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR). That fund has returned more than 20 times its limited partners’ capital.
Matrix’s big hit of 2000 was Arrowpoint Communications, which netted Matrix $1 billion when it was acquired by Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO) in June. Kleiner had holdings in three IPOs that were worth $500 million or more when they came out of lock up: ONI Systems (Nasdaq:ONIS), Handspring (Nasdaq:HAND) and Corvis (Nasdaq:CORV).
It’s not clear when or if the VCs sold shares in the IPOs. Cisco’s stock, for example, has declined almost 40% since the Arrowpoint deal closed. Kleiner’s biggest winners have held their value since the lock-up period expired, but both companies had holdings that declined substantially from their lock-up expiration price.
Both firms also had about $2 billion each in 1999 IPOs that came out of lock-up in 2000, giving Matrix the “Malven Metric” edge there too.
But as Lisson pointed out, “This is splitting hairs amidst the pinnacle of the field. A fun, interesting and worthwhile analysis, but the distinction makes no difference to investors in these funds. The amounts of money involved are trivial when viewed in context, the venture capital segment in the alternatives portion of an entire portfolio. Nonetheless, the LPs of both Kleiner and Matrix can thank their lucky stars to be in these funds. It is amazing how these and a few other elite firms can put so much distance between themselves and the rest of field, repeatedly, in bad times as well as good.”
And finally, a follow-up to last week’s column on Summit Partners, the most recent firm to join the elite $2 billion fund club. Lisson had this to say of Summit: “As a private equity investor, Summit can outperform some early-stage VCs, the reverse of how it’s supposed to work. Now that’s a firm where unquestionably ‘there’s something in the water’ consistently over the years.”
Corey Ostman of Alert-IPO and Mary Evelyn Arnold of VC Buzz provided research for this article.
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InsiderVC.com pierces the VC industry’s verbal fog – Stephen Lisson

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InsiderVC.com pierces the VC industry’s verbal fog – Stephen Lisson

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson

VALLEY TALK
Behind the VC Music
FORTUNE
Wednesday, November 22, 2000
By Mark Gimein
Stephen Lisson is not a conventionally likable guy. On more
than one occasion, he’s implied that I’m the single stupidest
reporter he’s ever talked to. He has kept me on the phone for
hours at a time listening to the most arcane statistics, until I’ve
slammed down the phone in frustration. He calls people who
disagree with him “lickspittles.” He dismisses many of the
visitors to his Website as “parasites.”
And yet over the past few months I have repeatedly gone back to
Lisson and his new Website, InsiderVC.com, because Lisson has
the best data out there about venture capital, and often the most
interesting things to say about it.
Venture capitalists are the rock stars du jour of the financial
world, a species of money managers who are believed capable of
superhuman wisdom. Business magazines tend to assume that
the richer you are, the smarter you must be, and the Internet
boom has lavished untold riches on the venture capitalists who
invested early.
“Untold” is a key word here, because hardly anyone knows
exactly how great these riches are. In this way, venture-capital
funds are very different from, say, mutual funds. Venture
capitalists talk vaguely about “triple-digit returns,” but even
successful funds tend to keep their returns a closely guarded
secret. And even when they do reveal numbers, they can be hard
to understand.
This is where Austin, Texas, entrepreneur and venture-capital
gadfly Stephen Lisson comes in. Through years of research and,
apparently, a lot of cooperation from a network of sources
willing to send him copies of the reports that venture-capital
firms send out to their investors, Lisson has gathered an
immense database of information about venture-capital firms’
investments and profits.
Lisson doesn’t make all his data public–much of his information
is limited to subscribers, and he can be picky even about whom
he allows to subscribe. But what he’s already revealed in the
public sections (for example, see: Database Example) of
InsiderVC.com is fascinating. Some of his data shows exactly
what you might expect. Benchmark Capital Partners’ 1995 fund-the
fund that famously invested in eBay–has already returned to
its investors 38 times the money they put in. Investors who put
money into the fund that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers,
Silicon Valley’s best-known venture-capital firm, raised in 1996,
have already made a similarly spectacular return of over 1,000%.
But you’ll also find that the 1997 fund raised by Hummer
Winblad, another venture-capital firm that has traditionally
received a lot of attention from the press, has so far returned
only 42% of its investors’ money. That might be a decent
showing in any other era, but in the middle of the biggest
technology boom or bubble in history, it’s not great, and not
nearly as good as some of Hummer Winblad’s peers. (Typically,
venture funds distribute cash or stocks as the companies in their
portfolio are sold or go public. In theory, that means they can
continue paying out money to investors for a very long time, but
in practice, almost all of their profits are made in the first six
years of the fund.)
Even more interesting are the data that Lisson has gathered on
how venture capitalists value their investments. Venture
capitalists measure their own performance by an “internal rate of
return”–an annualized rate of increase in the value of their
investments. Often that’ll be a number in the high double digits,
sometimes in the triple digits. Sounds pretty good when you
compare it with the typical mutual fund. But if you look at the
InsiderVC.com database, you’ll find that funds claiming
immense annual returns sometimes pay out a lot less money to
investors than you’d imagine.
As of March 2000, Benchmark claimed an annualized return of
an amazing 279% for Benchmark III, the fund that the firm
raised in 1998. But wait a second! Lisson’s data also show that
Benchmark III hadn’t actually distributed any cash or stock to its
investors. That 279% return was based on a guesstimate of the
value of the companies Benchmark has invested in–companies
that, since they hadn’t gone public, are notoriously hard to value.
One of those companies, Living.com, has already gone bankrupt,
reducing the value of Benchmark’s investment from an estimated
$74 million to zero. And it’s hard to believe that, with the Net
bubble bursting, Benchmark’s investment in eBags.com is really
worth the $20 million-plus that Benchmark valued it at in
March.
For individual investors who don’t have a prayer of putting their
money into funds that deal only with tech insiders, large
institutions, and foundations, analyzing exactly how much the
top funds make can certainly seem like an academic exercise. It
can all sound arcane, confusing, and dull, and if you are not an
investor in venture-capital funds, I don’t recommend it as a
hobby or a business. But it’s important that somebody do it.
First, because venture investment is the engine driving much of
Silicon Valley’s technological innovation. And, second, because
it’s important for somebody like Lisson to remind investors and
the business press that venture capitalists are not the gods of
finance they are often made out to be, but instead, very well-
trained money managers. Sometimes very smart money
managers, sometimes very lucky money managers, but
nonetheless, financiers who’ll often make a lot of money and
sometimes, like the rest of us, flub it.
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