Tuesday, May 12, 2015, STEVE LISSON


Industry Standard | Fallen VC Idols | Steve Lisson | Austin, Texas

Monday, May 11, 2015

Charles River Ventures (CRV) - Charles River's Matrix Envy | Steve Lisson

InsiderVC.com *Following is a draft excerpt from* *Beardstown, err, Battery Ventures:* *The most overrated venture firm* *Part A: The three runners-up, and who to blame* IX. WILDNERNESS OF MIRRORS - Charles River Ventures (CRV) "I tell you, I've been over this stuff a bunch of times - it just doesn't add up. Who does these books? I mean, if I ran my business this way, I'd be out of business" (Murray Blum CPA to The President in the movie/Dave/, while the two friends were analyzing the Federal budget looking for savings). When the Federal government wants more money to spend on programs or people, it prints the money, borrows it, or raises taxes. If CRV needs money, then it can resort to extending the life of an ancient, almost fully wound-down fund. Only if a partnership can't raise more money does it goes into this mode, so the GPs can make their car and mortgage payments; otherwise, it's stubbornness, hopefulness, and nickel-chasing. /Wilderness of Mirrors/ was the title of a book about delusions induced by the inherent paranoia of a counterintelligence officer. Subtly, the principle works here, too. Anecdotally, every time a firm has extended the life of a fund, the performance has not improved appreciably if at all; frequently, the returns go down, not up. Why should a firm even concern itself with returns of an eleven-years old fund, especially if it has raised several more and should be more concerned with how to deploy the billion(s) it now manages - many times more than the runway left in or which could be squeezed out of a tiny, ancient fund from a decade ago? After all, that fund's performance has already been used to raised all the new billion(s) of fresh capital. Moreover, any marginal gain will be more than outweighed both by management fees and management "time-sink", further depressing any possible ROI. Answer? Those additional management fees. Depressing the IRR at this point, with all those new funds and fresh capital already raised, is the current (not former) CRV GPs' gift to themselves - enrichment -- however just it might be. Charles River Partnership VI (1990 - $50MM) as of 9/30 still held five investments costing $12.3MM but with, of course, all purported appreciation in value already factored into the IRR. Like proving perjury and conspiracy to defraud, it's not necessary to extract from the perpetrators a confession (and they usually aren't stupid enough to allow such a thing anyway). One need only look at the result, the practical effect, of extending the term of the partnership for two years (was 11 years commencing September 1990 subject to two one-year extensions) through 31 Dec 2002. Where's the measly $200,000 sum total going? Our vote says to the marketing partner hired around the same time as approval for the extension. Funny, that's also when the well-scripted, verbatim-like transcripts of Benchmark rumors began. Perversely, this twisted, sordid wilderness of mirrors (extending the life a fund to depress rather than juice or at best eke-out at most an imperceptible and possibly counterproductive gain) is further exacerbated by CRV capping the extension of Fund VI's fees, for liquidating those five investments, at $100,000 a year. How touching - and misplaced is the current group's priorities. Like the national Democratic Party, which lost the 1984 and 1988 U.S. presidential elections because it was still obsessed with holding congressional hearings into a fantastical "October Surprise" scenario (Reagan campaign manager William Casey ostensibly negotiating release of the Iranian hostages on the eve of the 1980 election) CRV's obsession with an eleven year-old fund is both product and end-result of one thing and one thing only. Matrix envy. Reacting to the first appearance of our Pecking Order, CRV's in-house fluffer began inserting the following mantra into press releases: "Throughout the past decade, Charles River funds have been among the industry's highest performing funds according to Venture Economics, a division of Thomson Financial Securities Data that covers investment, exit and performance activity in the private equity industry." Panicking after Waltham's Matrix Leading Venture Pack On Both Coasts in /The Boston Globe/, and despite our vociferously, vituperatively, pedantically discouraging such head-to-head comparisons, CRV went around loudly, persistently whining to anyone (notably /Upside's/ Patrick Meadows, who fell early and hard) willing and gullible enough to succumb, that it outperforms Waltham, Mass. neighbor Matrix. But the only same vintage year in which both raised money was . . . you guessed correctly. This same one at issue here. The fact is the performance of Charles River Partnership VI (1990 - $50MM) fails when measured against Matrix Partners III (1990 - $80MM): only two-thirds the IRR% and less than half the POM% (Piles of Money: actual distributions of stock or cash expressed as a percentage of committed capital). However, the current iteration of CRV can console itself with the knowledge that this performance of their prior group does, in turn, top the results turned in by NEA V (1990 - $199MM). Regardless, industry practice should not leave fund extensions up to the personality of a preening, narcissistic GP already burdened with more time than sense, willing to saddle itself with such outsized, meaningless at best, and potentially harmful distractions. In the first weeks alone of its new $1.2BB Fund XI, CRV's drawdowns amounted to more than the 1.5 times the entire size of Fund VI. It bears repeating: the firm spent within mere weeks a greater sum out of just its newest fund alone (not counting the other active, large, quite young funds) than the total invested from this eleven years old partnership during its entire lifetime. Moral? Come to your senses! Get a life! Deal with your paranoia, cease the delusions, accept your place in the industry, congratulate yourself on superb (albeit deceptive) media-relations ROI, and move on. This shameless insecurity reveals CRV as a caricature of what it once was; nowadays, the firm is totally different -- people and profile -- from the days of Jack Neises and Rick Burnes, then later Don Fedderson. "Facts that are not frankly faced have a habit of stabbing us in the back." (Sir Harold Bowden). So, unfortunately, you can't look at the stellar history and make positive judgments about today's group. Too great a contrast. Apples vs. oranges. */See Also:/* *crv@InsiderVC.com* Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved This page reviewed and/or edited: Monday, 25 February 2002 12:13 AM

BOOK | Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Steve Lisson, Stephen N. Lisson, Stephen Lisson, Austin, Texas, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, FourSquare
Fallen VC Idols
By Gary Rivlin and Lark Park
They talk about it at their children's school plays. They ask the question
at Palo Alto power lunches: Who among them, the Silicon Valley
venture capitalists wonder, will be first to turn in a lousy return for their
It's a question no one asked in the boom times, but this is a very
different world for VCs. Venture investing in the first quarter of 2001
was down 59 percent from record highs. Dozens of venture-backed
dot-coms have gone out of business, and hundreds of others are still
years away from profits. Funds that invested rapidly at the peak of the
frenzy have seen the value of their investments fall 75 percent or more.
"There are some big-name funds out there in trouble, there's no question
about it," says Kathryn Gould, an 11-year industry veteran and a partner
at Foundation Capital, echoing a sentiment expressed by many VCs. "I
hear it from our limited partners, who are invested in a lot of the big
The limited partners - wealthy individuals, pension funds and college
endowments that invest in venture funds for double-digit returns - are
bracing for single-digit returns this year, well below the triple-digit
returns seen in 1999 and even the average 27 percent return over the
past 10 years. In the worst-performing funds, the limited partners could
face losing the capital they originally invested.
It's no surprise that plenty of also-ran venture shops and incubators that
popped up during the bull market are struggling with soured
investments. Many limited partners sought out the top VC firms
precisely to avoid such a risk. But some of those top firms - the ones
that supposedly had the wisdom and experience to know better - made
what now look like serious missteps at the height of the bubble. They
often focused on dot-coms with little hope for profitability. Worse, they
invested so quickly that they had little left over to nurture startups
through the downturn that followed. Now Draper Fisher Jurvetson,
Hummer Winblad, Redpoint Ventures, Softbank Venture Capital - even
the undisputed superstar of the venture world in the second half of the
1990s, Benchmark Capital - are sitting on at least one problem fund.
raised funds during the peak of the Internet bubble. But five -
Benchmark Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Hummer Winblad,
Redpoint Ventures and Softbank Capital Partners - were aggressive
in investing much of their funds early in now-struggling dot-com
**** DIVERS- IFICATION FACTOR Benchmark Capital
Benchmark III 1998 $149 100%** 0%** 53% Poor Draper Fisher
Jurvetson DFJ V 1998 $180 80%** 24%** 44% Moderate Hummer
Winblad Hummer Winblad IV 1999 $315 75%*** N/A 48% Poor New
Enterprise Associates NEA IX 1999 $871 65.1%* 0%* 68% Good
Redpoint Ventures Redpoint I 1999 $600 60%* 0%* 66% Moderate
 Softbank Venture Capital Softbank V 1999 $600 100%** 0.01%**
50% Poor US Venture Partners USVP VI 1999 $278 84.3%* 0% 55%
Good *As of Sept. 30. **As of Dec. 31. ***Estimate. **** Excludes
companies that have gone public or been acquired. Sources: Insider
VC, Venture Economics and Venture One
Of course, many venture funds are still so young that a couple of big hits
could cover a long list of bad bets. In the image-obsessed world of VCs,
however, even one down year is the kind of thing that could tarnish a
firm's reputation.
"The way venture capital works, or at least used to work, was you
invested in a fund over two or three years so you captured several years'
worth of trends," says one longtime venture capitalist who, like most
VCs and limited partners interviewed for this story, would only speak
anonymously. "But in '99, you saw some well-known VCs go through
their whole wad in a six- to nine-month time frame, so they only
captured a partial year of trends. Those are the funds the limiteds are
worried about."
Eighteen months ago, a venture fund reporting a negative return was
unthinkable. The Nasdaq was climbing toward 5000. Tech IPOs were
tumbling out the door, with investment bank analysts minting new
metrics to justify the skyrocketing stock prices. So venture capitalists
blithely laid down tens of billions of dollars on dot-coms. The biggest
risk VCs faced seemed to be missing out on the next eBay.
"If a deal was hot enough, you locked the door and didn't let the
founders out until they had at least verbally committed to a deal," says
Neil Weintraut of 21st Century Internet Venture Partners. "We realized
only once it was too late that we forgot to pay attention to this one
important factor called profitability." It's a confession akin to a pro-ball
scout proclaiming a player has all the intangibles to become a starter in
the NBA - except he can't shoot.
VC money legitimized the dot-coms, and stock investors legitimized the
investments with inflated valuations. The highest-profile VCs got drunk
on their own celebrity and personal wealth. At the peak, stars such as
Redpoint Ventures' Geoff Yang were wondering aloud whether there
was any downside left in the game. "If the company doesn't work out,
we'll sell for $150 million," Yang told Fortune in 1999. "If it does, it'll
be $2 billion to $10 billion. Tell me how that's risk."
Yang got his answer when stocks crashed in 2000. Now the wider world
 no longer buys the story that dot-coms will rule the world; those flying
the highest during the boom times are today's goats. The technology
world's best-known investment bankers operate under a cloud of
scandal as federal investigators question the legality of their IPO
allotment practices. The Internet's best-known research analysts are
reeling from charges they touted highly speculative stocks more out of
self-interest than in a belief in companies whose shares are now trading
90 percent or more off their highs. And the venture capitalists, once
lionized for their ability to spot huge hits, are getting their comeuppance.
Last week, for instance, Webvan, the ultimate VC poster child last week
was worth $77 million, down from a market capitalization of $2.5 billion
only nine months ago.
Venture capital firms hold information about their funds' performance
close to their chests - especially the current valuation of their
investments. Even so, there are plenty of clues that point to a fund in
trouble: How close is it to prematurely spending all the money it raised?
How many of its companies have been able to raise money since the
stock market crashed? How much of the fund did the firm plunk in the
dot-com pot? How many startups have gone out of business in the fund's
short life? And how much money are limited partners getting back on
their investments?
Draper Fisher Jurvetson Led by Tim Draper, DFJ charged into the
online retailing and b-to-b sectors in its fifth and sixth funds. More than
half the companies in the fifth fund have yet to raise new funding in a
tough market. BestOffer.com, DigitalWork, Everdream,
InfoRocket.com, SeeUThere.com Hummer Winblad John Hummer and
Ann Winblad have never produced a home-run investment. It is unlikely
that its fourth fund, the first to focus on the Internet, will improve the
firm's track record. Homes.com, Lavastorm, Mambo.com, Pagoo.com,
Rivals.com Redpoint Ventures Geoff Yang and his five partners
invested in 40 startups in 14 months. Their silver lining: More
investments in infrastructure firms than in dot-coms. BigBand
Networks, eNet China, HelloBrain, MetaTV, TeraOptic Networks
Benchmark Capital The firm's third fund, raised in 1998, was alm! ost
exclusively invested in dot-coms. David Beirne and Benchmark partners
opted to spend most of the fund's capital in nine months. Collab.net,
Epinions.com, Guild.com, Living.com, Respond.com Softbank Capital
Partners Gary Rieschel admits his fund was overweighted in sectors
that "got smashed." He's already telling investors the best they can
expect are money-market-like returns. Asia Online, BlueLight.com,
iChristian.com, Rentals.com, Secure Commerce Services
. Steve Lisson devotes his time to such questions. He is at once an
 industry gadfly and a font of information on venture funds; his Web site,
 InsiderVC.com, is followed closely by many in the business. With the
help of Lisson and research firm Venture Economics, The Standard has
assembled profiles of major VC funds raised in 1998 and 1999. Because
dozens of funds opened during the peak of the tech bubble, we limited our list to several high-profile firms.
While any fund raised during the last few years is enduring tough times
now, not every one is in the same boat. Funds raised by Battery
Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise
Associates, Sequoia Capital and US Venture Partners have their share of
ailing dot-com investments. But they diversified into areas like biotech,
networking and software for big companies. Also, they didn't spend their
money as quickly as Benchmark and Draper did with their vintage 1998
funds, or as Hummer Winblad, Redpoint and Softbank did with their
1999 funds. The latter are the ones slowly coming into focus as strong
candidates for subpar performance.
Any recitation of the funds in greatest jeopardy should start with
Hummer Winblad and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Ann Winblad and Tim
Draper, the public faces of their respective firms, are better known for
being well-known than for their skill at spotting promising startups.
Winblad is a columnist for Forbes ASAP, and Draper is an investor in
Upside and a long-time friend of Tony Perkins, who founded both
Upside and Red Herring magazines. Yet both firms have suddenly
turned press-shy. Representatives of the two firms declined to comment
for this article.
After mixed success in three funds that focused on software companies,
Hummer Winblad raised $315 million for its fourth fund, which it
invested almost entirely in Internet ventures. "It's like the entire
portfolio was made up of dot-com, swing-for-the-fences deals," says a
limited partner for one of its funds, who asked not to be named.
So dismal are the prospects for Hummer's fourth fund - among its were a
laundry list of dot-bombs including Gazoontite, HomeGrocer, Pets.com
and Rivals.com - that general partner John Hummer recently felt
compelled to send a letter to its limited partners. "It is an
understatement to say how bad we feel about this," he wrote.
For his part, Draper took a scattershot approach that not only backfired
when the dot-com sector collapsed, but also made the firm look
careless. "I don't even count Draper as a real venture fund," says an
institutional investor who has money in roughly 50 venture funds.
"They're like this index fund that indiscriminately invested in
Both Draper V, a $180 million fund, and Draper VI, which raised $375
million, are full of businesses with an online angle. Four companies in
Fund V are already out of business. Draper VI has its share of firms
from the Internet bubble, including Club Mom, a content site for
mothers; Amazing Media, a banner ad technology firm; and Product
Pop, an Internet-marketing services company.
Draper did hit it big recently. Cyras Systems, a fiber-optics firm in Fund
V, was acquired in March for $1.15 billion in Ciena stock. That's a
significant score - but it's questionable whether Draper's take will be
enough to balance out the other dogs in the fund.
Redpoint is a venture capital supergroup, with partners who defected
from Institutional Venture Partners and Brentwood Venture Capital. But
the firm's first fund, which raised $600 million, so far has been short on
The six partners at Redpoint took just 14 months to invest in 40 startups,
most of them Internet-related. There was an $8 million investment in
BizBuyer.com, a b-to-b company that closed shop last year, and $22
million in NexGenix, one of many companies created to build
e-commerce sites. Other investments include $3 million in an online
beauty site, $4 million in an e-commerce company called eNet China
and $6 million in a sci-fi Web site that shut down operations in April. A
year ago, NexGenix filed to go public - Redpoint's first chance to cash
out and distribute the proceeds to its limited partners - then pulled the
offering in May. Four months later, NexGenix laid off an unspecified
number of employees.
Redpoint's two saving graces were that it set aside about half its fund to
keep its startups going and that it invested outside the dot-com realm.
Yang figures roughly 70 percent of Redpoint's first fund is invested in
infrastructure and software firms, though many were e-commerce
companies that have shifted their focus hoping to stay alive. "At least
we don't have 70 percent of the fund in e-retailing," he says.
Fate has been a little less kind to Softbank Venture Capital. The $600
million Fund V invested in 48 startups in approximately 12 months,
including companies such as Buy.com, eCoverage, eOffering.com,
Perfect.com and Rentals.com. The portfolio also includes iChristian, an
online religious bookstore, More.com and Urban Media
Communications, all of which have gone out of business; BizBlast, a
company that hoped to help small businesses get on the Web but ended
up laying off more than half its staff last fall; and iPrint.com, which
went public just prior to the spring 2000 crash and traded last week at
less than 50 cents a share.
According to Lisson, Softbank V has already parceled out all of the
fund's money yet has distributed no money to investors. Softbank VCs
admit the fund overindulged in vulnerable sectors.
"We were overweighted in services, and when that sector got hit our
fund got smashed," says Gary Rieschel, executive managing director of
Softbank Venture Capital. "We were also overweighted in Internet
consumer and business-to-business, rather than core technologies."
Still, Rieschel pledges, "we'll have a few nice pops and even a couple of
home runs." He's already told the fund's limited partners they can expect
a return of 150 percent to 200 percent. That might sound like a good
payoff, but funds typically have a 10-year life span. Doing even the
more optimistic math means this comes to about 7 percent a year, which
is barely better than a regular money-market account, despite the

enormous risk inherent to venture investments during an economic
Perhaps the biggest disappointment comes from Benchmark, a firm
whose towering reputation gives it that much further to fall. The firm's
success with Ariba and eBay sealed its reputation as one of the most
successful VC firms of the late '90s. How, then, does it get lumped
together with Hummer and Draper when insiders mention troubled VC
Mainly because of the performance of Benchmark III, the firm's third
fund. The fund raised $149 million in the second half of 1998, and then
spent all that cash in nine months, a fraction of the three-year average
before 1998. In all its other funds, Benchmark has invested in 21
networking-equipment and semiconductor startups, 10 software
companies and another six firms in the wireless market - but fund III has
only one investment in any of these categories: Collabra, a software
company. The fund has three investments in networking services
According to Lisson's data on Benchmark III, the partners invested in
24 startups, including Epinions.com and Living.com. By last fall,
though, the fund was down to a portfolio of 18, half of which were in
online retailing, with another three in the business-to-business sector.
Four others have since gone out of business, including Great
Entertaining and CharitableWay.com, representing more than $20
million in losses. Of the remaining companies, five have struggled with
cutbacks and layoffs.
Benchmark partner Kevin Harvey denies that Benchmark III is
performing poorly: "I feel confident that fund three will perform at the
top of its class." He also says that Benchmark IV - raised in 1999 - is
already proving a success with two public offerings.
Benchmark had always defined itself strictly as an early-stage investor,
but when it invested $19 million in 1-800-Flowers, the partners rolled
the dice on a "mezzanine" investment - an investment in a company
poised to go public. That proved costly. 1-800-Flowers is the one
company in the fund that has gone public. But by September 30, 2000 it
had racked up a loss exceedig $10 million for the fund, according to
InsiderVC.com. After publication of this story, Benchmark said that loss
has fallen to $2 million.
Compounding its bad bets, Benchmark failed to hold back enough of its
reserves for further financing. VCs usually reserve about half of a fund's
cash to make later investments in its most promising companies. Within
the venture world, it's generally frowned upon to pull money out of a
new fund to salvage a company funded by a previous one. According to
its contract with limited partners, Benchmark is permitted to crosspollinate
between funds, but doing so, experienced VCs say, raises the
question of whether you're trying to cover for old mistakes with new

In general, VCs try to avoid such cross-fund investments. "It's
something you should do very rarely and only when you have complete
confidence in a company," says Geoff Yang, a 16-year VC veteran.
"Otherwise, there are huge opportunities to get second-guessed by your
limited partners, who might think you're using one fund's money to prop
up the investment of another." On at least three occasions, Benchmark
has dipped into fund IV to invest in fund III companies, including a $3
million investment in the now-defunct Living.com.
Still, Benchmark remains confident in fund III's long-term performance.
Despite the carnage so far, the firm is convinced at least five of the
surviving companies could single-handedly provide a $1.5 billion return.
VCs by nature are an optimistic bunch, but the boys of Benchmark may
be an extreme example of the breed. The world around them has
changed dramatically, yet they still believe that a $1 million investment
in fund III will eventually return $150 million to investors.
That would take quite a turnaround. Until then, Benchmark, like other
VC firms with hangover funds, can try again with newer funds, for
which they've so far had little problems raising money. The question is,
will their reputations recover as easily?
Kathi Black, Diana Moore, Katie Motta and Jeff Palfini contributed to
this report.
An earlier version of this article should have stated that Benchmark
Capital's third venture fund has invested in a software company,
Collabra. Also, due to an editing error, the story should have stated that
Benchmark III has no investments in networking equipment, and that
the $10 million loss the fund faced on an investment in 1-800-Flowers
was as of Sept. 30, 2000.
Earlier stories from TheStandard.com:
Floyd Kvamme: The Emissary
Dado Banatao: The Adventure Capitalist
The Retreat of the VCs
Money Watch
Venture Buzz: Putting Its Billion to Work
Copyright © 2001 The Industry Standard. All rights reserved.



Development Plans Slated for Innovative Line of Information Services



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Development Plans Slated for Innovative Line of Information Services

Home (/) » Browse (/library) » Magazines (/library/magazine-articles) » General Science and Technology
Magazines (/library/t3062/general-science-and-technology-magazines) » Information Today (/library/p5281
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Information Today , Vol. 6, No. 9 , October 1989
Read preview (/read/1G1-8072329
Development Plans Slated for Innovative Line of
Information Services
Additional information
Article excerpt
Development Plans Slated for Innovative Line of Information Services
Legislative Information Network Corporation (LINC), an Austin-based 9rm, has
announced plans to develop and market answer-oriented information services
designed to enable businesses, organizations and professionals to stay current with the
ever-changing legislative and regulatory fronts in any state in the nation. The
cornerstone of this effort will be a single, comprehensive database and information
retrieval system comprised of the full-text of all bills, amendments, resolutions,
committee votes, ;oor votes and the like from the legislatures in all 50 states. LINC's
system will obtain, monitor, merge, correlate and compare all existing and proposed
state law, legislation, regulations and key demographic statistics on a single or
multi-state basis. LINC will offer the opportunity for customers to have every proposal
under consideration by state legislatures and regulatory agencies electronically tracked
according to their concerns. The system will also permit cross referencing of proposed
laws and regulations and compare these proposals with existing and/or proposed
changes in other states.
"State government shapes the world we live in. From economic development to gun

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control to taxation, legislation and regulations can have far-reaching effects," said
Stephen N. Lisson, CEO. "LINC will provide businesses, professionals, government
agencies and associations with a powerful tool - the equivalent of legions of staff
reading every line of every bill every day."
LINC's entry into the estimated $21 billion information-vending industry is a response
to two key factors. The 9rst is the endless array of proposed laws and rules being
considered by state legislatures and agencies. These government actions can materially
affect the operations of businesses, organizations and governmental entities, not to
mention a company's bottom line. The second factor LINC is responding to is the lack of
a single, comprehensive, timely source of information regarding legislative and
regulatory changes. …
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Monday, March 10, 2014

Steve Lisson, March 2014

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 ...
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 ...
nofouls.com/user/17646/stevelisson‎How to find local basketball courts and pick-up basketball games in my area.
ForbesSep 10, 2001 - But venture capitalists had better keep investing, warns Steve Lisson, who runs the popular InsiderVC.com. According to data tracker ...

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 ... 
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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Saturday, November 30, 2013


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Washington Post | Steve Lisson | Stephen N. Lisson | New Enterprise Is Huge and Proud of It

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New Enterprise Is Huge and Proud of It

By Terence O'Hara

Monday, December 6, 2004; Page E01

Peter J. Barris runs the biggest stand-alone venture capital operation in the world.
His firm, New Enterprise Associates, sailed through 2002-03, the nuclear winter
of venture investing, with relative ease. Nearly every technology entrepreneur worth
his salt would put NEA near the top of his list of firms he'd most like to raise money

Yet Barris and other longtime NEA partners continue to hear criticism from within
their industry that NEA's girth is a handicap, that NEA has strayed from the one true
swashbuckling venture capital faith and become --institutional.

Barris has heard this criticism --that NEA is too big and spread out to create the
home-run investments that put managers of NEA's more romantic, smaller rivals on
the cover of business magazines. He has a well-practiced response.

"I understand the question, or the criticism, at a philosophical level," Barris said last
week. "But the empirical data don't support it. The numbers don't lie."

Barris, who is based in Reston, became the Baltimore firm's sole managing general
partner in 1999 after serving three years as part of a management troika. Since then,
NEA has indeed performed better than the vast majority of venture capital firms,
although not at the level of the highest-performing firms that manage much smaller
amounts of money.

"I would argue that size is an advantage," he said. "We have a superior network of
entrepreneurs that have done business with us for years. We have the capital to see
an investment all the way through. We have the domain knowledge to match any
fund. And we have a presence on both coasts."

"And," he said, "we perform."

NEA has 11 venture funds, three of them raised since 1999. None of the three funds was in the black at
mid-year. According to the California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers), which invested in the
1999 fund NEA IX and 2000's NEA X, those funds had an annualized internal rate of return of minus 24
percent and minus 0.9 percent, respectively, on June 30. Those numbers may not prove much, however: It's a  rare fund from those years that has a positive return, and there is ample time in which to realize a profit,
which could be substantial. It takes up to 10 years to determine a venture fund's final rate of return.

NEA IX is far and away NEA's worst performer. "Not our most proud fund," Barris said. NEA IX had 90
percent of its capital in technology firms, mostly telecom-related investments, Barris said. For early-stage
1999 funds like NEA IX, break-even is considered excellent.

NEA X, the firm' s biggest, is performing substantially better than 75 percent of all other funds raised in 2000.
Barris said that since June 30, it has moved into positive territory.

Discussions with NEA limited partners --institutions and rich people who invest in NEA's funds --and others in the industry who follow NEA closely reveal a common theme: NEA has become a better-than-average
venture shop, and is now big enough so that description means real money. On average, its portfolio
companies have a better chance of returning money to NEA's investors than portfolio companies of other
firms. On average, it's as good a bet as any for an investor who wants to play in venture capital. And for
institutional investors such as Calpers and other big money managers, that's as good as it gets. They've thrown money at NEA in the past four years.

"Their structure enables them to handle large amounts of money," said Edward J. Mathias, a managing
director in Carlyle Group's venture capital business who helped NEA's founders when they started the firm
in 1978. "An institutional investor wanting to invest $25 million can do so with NEA with some assurance
that they can have above-average --not hugely above-average --but above-average returns. They have a high batting average. They hit a lot of doubles instead of a few home runs."

That may sound like feint praise, but Mathias is a staunch admirer of NEA and its people. Hitting a lot of
doubles in venture capital is no easy feat, he said.

Not everyone is as big a fan. Steve Lisson, the editor of InsiderVC.com, takes a dim view of NEA's size.

"Larger funds can't produce the kinds of returns of smaller funds," said Lisson, whose company provides
analysis of and statistics on venture fund performance and management practices. "Returns vary inversely
with money under management, because the larger the fund, the less impact one monster hit will have on its

NEA X is the largest VC fund ever. It raised $2.3 billion from its limited partners in 2000. The firm's latest
fund, NEA XI, stopped raising money a year ago at $1.1 billion. Most of the largest non-NEA early-stage
venture funds max out at $350 million, and some more prominent venture capital firms would not know what
to do with that much. Novak Biddle Venture Partners, a Bethesda firm that has probably had the most
successful run of any local venture firm in 2004, raised a $150 million fund this year, then turned investors
away. Novak Biddle Partners III, a relatively small fund raised at roughly the same time as NEA X, was up
about 6 percent as of Sept. 30.

Managers of funds the size of NEA's, Lisson said, inevitably have to do more later-stage and follow-on deals
because the universe of the best early-stage deals, which provide the biggest risk-return, is necessarily finite.
The most profitable funds are the ones that focus solely on the earliest-stage companies, and spend lots of
time and money on those companies at their birth, Lisson said. If NEA invested all of the $1.1 billion in NEA
XI in such small, time-consuming investments, it would need a heck of a lot more people than the 37
partners, venture partners and principals it has now.

To take an extreme example, think of Google Inc., whose early venture backers made billions of dollars when the company went public this year. NEA has financed more than 370 companies, and has a lot of big winners
in its huge portfolio, but none would compare with Google.

Barris disputes the notion that NEA is forced to do more later-stage, less-profitable deals. "As our funds have increased in size, the percentage of early-stage, start-up deals as a percent of our total has grown, not shrunk," he said.

Institutional investors are more than comfortable putting money into NEA. Its performance, they say, is not
tied to one deal, and the firm's track record over more than two decades speaks for itself. NEA's first eight
funds, the last of which closed in 1998, have made huge amounts of money. NEA VIII, a $560 million fund,
earned an annualized internal rate of return of 168 percent.

Barris said NEA's cost structure is distinctive in several ways. Most venture capital fund managers charge a percentage of the fund's size to cover their expenses, typically 2 percent of a fund's capital. NEA doesn't do
that; instead, it a budget of expenses expected to cover the costs of running the fund, including salaries, that
are then approved by a representative board of limited partners. For a large fund, that sharply reduces the
costs to the limited partners.

"Limited partners love this," Mathias said.

Calpers, one of the most active investors in private equity funds, committed $75 million to NEA X, one of the 10 largest investments it has made in a single venture fund.

Most venture funds split the profits of a fund, the most typical split being 80 percent going to limited partners
and 20 percent going to the fund's managers. NEA, Barris said, makes the split 70-30.

Inside the firm, profits from a deal are spread out across the partnership; no one partner takes more than
another in a single deal. That promotes a team atmosphere that is necessary in running a big fund, Barris said.
In most funds, a partner who leads a successful deal gets a bigger cut of the profits than other partners.

The result, Mathias said, is less the amalgam of egotists seen at many venture capital firms than a consortium
of super-smart people trying to make a lot of money. "It's not a superstar kind of firm," he said.

Although NEA has more money under management than any other stand-alone venture capital firm --some
Wall Street private equity firms that do venture investing have bigger funds, but tend to engage as well in
leveraged buyouts and hedge investing --Barris said there's no prospect for his firm becoming dominant in
the venture capital world.

"The industry has just gotten more competitive, not less," Barris said. "Even with our huge funds, we still
have only 2 percent of the total amount of VC funds under management. In this business, it's not who has the
most money but who has the most expertise that matters."

And is NEA an "institution," that staid word that makes many small venture capital firms shudder?

"I don't know what the definition of institutional is," Barris said. "I think we've gone farther than most firms
in institutionalizing what has been a cottage industry. We employ some professional management techniques
and policies. But because we started the firm on both coasts, we've had those things from the beginning. So I
don't think we've changed much as we've gotten bigger."

Terence O'Hara's e-mail address is oharat@washpost.com.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

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Friday, November 29, 2013


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What Goes Up:
After soaring, this year's IPOs have returned to earth

By Jack Willoughby

Page 35
(Copyright (c) 2000, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
Much of the cleanup remains to be done. Many famous venture capital firms are stuck with huge amounts of devalued stock. "Most of those triple-digit returns that venture-capital firms are so fond of reporting will never materialize because they are not based on reality," contends Stephen N. (Steve) Lisson, Austin-based editor of InsiderVC.com, which tracks performance. "Sure, the dot.com fallout has been gruesome, but much of its effect still remains hidden. Even today many VC funds are still reluctant to write down their investments because they want to keep attracting new capital."
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Matrix Edges Kleiner

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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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V I R G I N I A :
John Marshall Courts Building
400 North Ninth Street
STEPHEN N. LISSON,                                                                               )
Petitioner,                  )
v.                                                                                 )   Case No.: HQ-2029-4
VIRGINIA RETIREMENT SYSTEM                      )
and                                                                             )
WILLIAM H. LEIGHTY,                                            )
Respondents.           )
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:     /     /
We Ask For This:
Larry A. Pochucha, Esquire
Attorney for Stephen N. Lisson
VSB No. 15674
5206 Markel Road
P.O. Box 11787
Richmond, Virginia  23230
(804) 285-7000
Facsimile: (804) 285-2849
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

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
Telefax (804) 648-4450
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