A couple weeks ago, Dan Primack of PE Hub blogged a list of venture capital firms he termed the “VC Walking Dead” — firms that by all indication appear to still be in business but lack the cash to bring new investments on board. This got us thinking. While Dan’s list included 14 firms, there had to be a lot more out there. Maybe they wouldn’t be big ones, or marquee names, but surely more firms petered out, either during the dot-com crash or soon after.
Here’s what we did: We got two big lists from the National Venture Capital Association, one with firms that had successfully raised money in 2000 and 2001, and one with firms that had survived to raise funds between 2002 and the present. We compared them side by side, determining which firms had failed to rope further funding in the last eight years. Some of these firms may not exist anymore — they’re just dead. But a surprising number, many more than PE Hub indicated, have kept the lights on somehow.
Take a look at the Docstoc file below, and you’ll see our full list of the walking dead, highlighted in yello — there’s a huge number of them. Those unhighlighted were able to raise funds in subsequent years.
To highlight a few, one that we found that didn’t make Dan’s list is Walden International. Chairman Lip-Bu Tan told us a while back that he planned to scale back his own involvement in the firm to focus on his role as chief executive of semiconductor company Cadence, but other than that the firm hasn’t commented on its reduced activity. Crescendo Ventures is another firm that may not make it. Managing general partner David Spreng says he still hasn’t given up on raising a fresh fund, but he’s been actively trying for three years now. Hope is slipping out of his hands….so for now, he’s among the walking dead.
There is one other caveat with this list. Due to some incomplete data for 2009, we might have come up with a few false positives. Please let us know if you find one and we’ll make a correction. For example, our methodology had indicated that Bain Capital (which was listed misleadingly as a separate entity from Bain Capital Ventures) was a zombie firm, but we knew it just landed $475 million for its new fund in mid-February, and corrected the record.
[Update: Warburg Pincus LLC has been taken off the list of the walking dead. The data did not reflect the $15 billion fund it closed last April. Walden International has now also been taken off the list. According to chairman Lip-Bu Tan, the firm raised a $285 million fund in August 2006 with a four-year investment period. VentureSource did not capture this news because Walden is a cross border fund, Tan says. Adams Capital Management has also been removed from the list, having raised $115 million last year, according to general partner Bill Frezza. Draper Richards has been removed from the list for slightly different reasons. The firm has never taken outside money because its general partners are its limited partners, financing it from the inside. It is still alive, though it did not appear to be according to our data. Grandbanks Capital has been removed from the list. It had a first close on its new fund of $85 million last month. KT Venture Group has been removed from the list, not because it doesn't fit our criteria -- it last raised a fund in 2000 -- but because it is the venture arm of KLA-Tencor and is therefore an evergreen fund. Nexit Ventures has also been removed, having raised a $110 million fund last year that did not appear in our data. CommonAngels has also been stricken from the list because -- as James Geshwiler comments -- it raised a fund that was not evident in our data in 2005. Azure Capital Partners has been removed from the list, having raised its second fund in 2006. Catalyst Investors has also been removed from the list because it raised a fund in 2006, so it appears that we had some incomplete data for that year.]
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