Financial investors? Us? pierces the VC industry's verbal fog.

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 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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