Usually, venture capital firms have funds that last for ten years, and so by and large they are immune from the mess on Wall Street. That’s good for technology start-ups, who count on VC firms to back them.
However, large financial institutions, many of them in Wall Street, are among those that provide venture capital firms their money. And if those investors get hurt, so could their commitments to the venture firms.
Take an extreme case, FTVentures. Founded in 1998, FTVentures is a venture capital firm that invests solely into technologies that serve the financial industry.
But it also relies on 40 banks and pension funds to supply its entire capital (see partial list here).
In April, we reported how the firm, with offices in San Francisco and New York, finished raising a fresh $512 million in new funds from those financial investors. However, those funds weren’t deposited immediately into FTVentures’ accounts. The funds typically remain with the investors until FTVentures calls down the money, which means the funds may be evaporating in many cases as banks like Lehman Brothers and WaMu go under.
FT has now got to be sweating pretty badly, because among its investors are not only WaMu and Lehman, but other failed or struggling institutions, such as AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Goldman Sachs, Wachovia and National City.
Once a certain number of LPs don’t meet their calls, the fund could be endangered.
I reached the firm’s managing director Karren Gilbert for comment. She said the firm had managed to draw down a “significant” portion of the funds. She said negotiations continue with the troubled banks, and that she’s hopeful that Barclays (which bought parts of Lehman) and JP Morgan (which bought parts of WaMu) might make good on the commitments to FTVentures. She said it was too early to know the exact impact on the firm, but did say that she felt it is diversified enough — with investments from places like the State of New York — that it will do just fine. “We don’t anticipate any defaults,” she said. She provided few other details.
To some degree the fund might be cushioned by those public pension funds brought in for the new fund – but they might be in bad shape too, and unwilling to meet their calls — and quite happy to tip the balance over the line in terms of the fund needing to shut, if it came to that. Also, not all LPs invest the same amount, i.e, one bank might have invested $30 million and another only $5 million – but its hard to know whether this works for or against FT at this stage.
For now, though, the firm insists it’s not in trouble.
As for FTVentures’ own investments into companies, they include OpenSpan, Mu Sigma and Welton Street and many more.
The full list of FTVentures investors is after the jump.
AIG Global Investment Corp. (United States), AIG Private Equity AG (SWX:APEN), Allianz SE (DB:ALV), American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG), Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC), Barclays Global Investors, BNP Paribas (ENXTPA:BNP), Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE:COF), Charles Schwab Corp. (NasdaqGS:SCHW), CIBC Capital Partners, Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), Credit Suisse Group (VIRTX:CSGN), DBS Bank Ltd., Deutsche Bank AG (DB:DBK), Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM), Fidelity National Financial Inc., Asset Management Arm, Fifth Third Holdings Funding, LLC, First Republic Investment Management, Inc., Gemini Investors, General Electric Capital Corp., Goldman Sachs Asset Management, L.P., HSBC Bank Malta plc (MTSE:HSBC), Hsbc Bank Plc, Asset Management Arm, ING Bank N.V., Asset Management Arm, Internet Capital Group Inc. (NasdaqGM:ICGE), JPMorgan Chase & Co, Investment Arm, Kamehameha Schools Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY), Lehman Brothers Inc., Investment Arm, Lexington Partners, Liberty Mutual Holding Company, Inc, Lloyds TSB Group plc, Investment Arm, Morning Star Investment Management Ltd, Nation City Corp, National City Corporation (NYSE:NCC), National City Equity Partners, LLC, New York City Retirement Systems, New York State Common Retirement Fund, Nomura Holdings, Investment Arm, Nordea Bank AB. (OM:NDA SEK), PartnerRe Ltd. (NYSE:PRE), PNC Bank N.A, Investment Arm, RBC Funds Inc., RBC Technology Ventures Inc., SEB Strategic Investments, Sigma Partners, Skandia Asset Management, Skandia Insurance Company Ltd., Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (OM:SEB A), Standard Chartered Bank, New York, SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE:STI), SVB Strategic Investors LLC, The Hartford Funds, Traveler Corp., ESOP, U.S. Bancorp Equipment Finance Inc., Investment Arm, Visa Marketplace, Inc., Wachovia Investors Inc., Wamu Asset Acceptance Corp., Wells Fargo Equity Capital, Inc., Deutsche Banc Alex.Brown Inc., Richmond Brokerage Office (Prior), RHM Plc (Prior)