Peakview, a U.S. LP as soon as solely backed by a Chinese language agency, additional diversifies its investor base


Within the aftermath of Sequoia Capital’s massive reveal earlier this week that its China- and India-based associates are spinning off into unbiased entities, we reached out yesterday to somebody who we thought may need an opinion on the event. Erik Lassila is a former VC whose Silicon Valley-based fund of funds enterprise, Peakview Capital, was — once we final spoke with him in 2016 — backed fully by a Chinese language funding agency that wished to park a few of its personal cash with enterprise managers within the U.S.

Lassila took a go on analyzing Sequoia’s choice, however he tell us that in April, eight-year-old Peakview closed its fourth fund with $150 million in capital commitments — with none from mainland China — even whereas he insisted that Washington’s more and more strained relationship with the Chinese language authorities isn’t the explanation why.

Though we don’t fully imagine him, we loved reconnecting with Lassila, whose agency now has $600 million in property below administration and whose latest bets, per a dependable supply, embody stakes in funds run by Andreessen Horowitz and Lightspeed Capital Companions. Lassila declined to reveal any details about his portfolio managers throughout our dialog this week, but it surely’s price noting that years in the past, he informed us that Peakview has additionally wired checks to Menlo Ventures, Institutional Enterprise Companions, and Basis Capital.

Extra from that chat under:

TC: The final time we talked, you have been funded fully by a Chinese language firm that wished you to put money into U.S. enterprise funds on its behalf.

EL: Our funding technique has been the identical since I based the agency in 2015. We’re primarily a fund of funds that invests in a really small variety of what we expect are the top-performing VCs within the nation. We additionally do some direct VC investing in fintech and different enterprise tech on the Collection B, C, and D stage, although we do only a few of those offers.

What enterprise companies meet your standards? Is there a threshold when it comes to fund dimension?

We put money into extra mature VCs sometimes who’ve a powerful market presence and a powerful skilled staff and hopefully generational institutional data. We attempt to present our buyers with very excessive danger adjusted returns, that means decrease danger and decrease volatility however a really sturdy return, and we do this by specializing in a really small variety of what we see as top-tier VCs.

Together with which of them?

A few of these companies are extra delicate than others about utilizing their identify and having their identify come up so we don’t disclose these.

What number of fund managers are in your portfolio?

About 10 in our earlier fund. That might be true, too, of the fund we simply closed. Our technique is fairly concentrated.

A variety of essentially the most “mature” funds within the business ballooned in dimension over the previous couple of years. Additionally they got here again to their restricted companions quicker than ever. Did you pressured to maintain re-upping?

We’re very totally different from different individuals who do what we do in that we’re enterprise capitalists by background; we all know the VCs as colleagues and mates and so I believe we’re fortunate to have a bit extra flexibility. So throughout the growth occasions, actually, we made a acutely aware effort to take a position much less throughout that point as a result of I’ve seen this film earlier than — twice. And when funds are investing a lot capital so shortly, from a finance supervisor viewpoint, that could be a recipe for weak vintages, so we went gentle on the 2020, 2021 period funds.

So it wasn’t a case of, ‘Write a verify otherwise you’re out of the membership’?

It’s virtually sort of a dance, however by and huge, no, we didn’t. These teams know that we’re long run backers and so they didn’t have a tough time elevating capital; there was some huge cash getting thrown at them. So we have been in a position to ease up slightly bit.

Let’s circle again to who’s funding you. I used to be informed Shengjing Group is now not your sole LP.

On the outset, we had a single investor, so our very earliest funds have been invested particularly with Chinese language capital. Beginning in 2018, with our third fund, we made a acutely aware effort to diversify our LP base. And partly that’s an element of, you don’t wish to simply depend on one single investor, but in addition we wished to have extra of a worldwide LP base. So if you happen to have a look at each of our fund three and the fourth fund that we simply raised, nearly all of the capital is from U.S. buyers, with slightly little bit of it coming from Hong Kong buyers slightly coming from backers in Europe.

What in regards to the Center East? What about Saudi Arabia?

No, we don’t fundraise there.

You wished to diversify, however you have to have been frightened, too, about rising geopolitical tensions between the usand China.

Politics ebbs and flows, so we didn’t make that call primarily based on the geopolitical atmosphere. We wished to diversify our buyer base. We do suppose that this present day, having the world’s largest economies, just like the U.S. and China and others, cooperating and collaborating can and ought to be a constructive factor. I’m very involved in regards to the regulatory panorama round AI, for instance. That is expertise that you just don’t wish to fall into the palms of dangerous actors. And I imagine that that is essentially the most essential time since perhaps since World Warfare II or the Chilly Warfare for the world’s expertise leaders to collaborate on regulatory options and requirements, which is actually going to take a multilateral effort, together with dialogue between the U.S. and China.

Are you able to remind me of the way it got here to go that you just have been as soon as backed fully by Shengjing Group?

It’s one of many largest Chinese language fund of funds focusing solely on VC. I had gotten to know the administration; I knew that they have been making an attempt to put money into the U.S. and so they weren’t in a position to put money into what I’d name the ‘management tier’ of companies. In the meantime, I wished to get Peakview began straight away and have a supply of capital and it was a great partnership and people funds have completed very effectively.

You typically make direct investments into corporations. Do you, or would you, additionally put money into a sleeve of enterprise capital stakes on the secondary market, that means from one other establishment that’s in search of some liquidity? 

Teams like foundations and endowments and others not often promote their positions. On occasion, you’ll have a bunch that claims, ‘Okay, we wish to cut back our our enterprise publicity.’ In order that that may occur. However within the prime quality funds, you don’t see a lot exercise. We are getting so many emails each week like, ‘Hey, are you shopping for something? Are you promoting something?’ There’s an lively market on the market and it’s going to be much more lively quickly as a result of individuals will need liquidity on their personal holdings.

Should you did determine in some unspecified time in the future to promote some chunk of your enterprise holdings, would it’s a must to obtain buy-in from all your fund managers?

No. We do have the power, but it surely’s not what we do. We’re on this long-term-hold sort of enterprise, plus actually, if you happen to’re promoting an LP stake, you virtually at all times must take a reduction to the market worth. So we expect the very best long-term outcomes come from holding on to these positions.

Do you would like that a number of the VCs who raised their largest funds ever would think about giving again some capital, given the market has modified so dramatically?

The sort of companies that we put money into, individuals have been taking a really prudent method to creating new investments. And so definitely, the brand new funding cycles are stretching out. And the restricted partnership agreements for these funds are at all times written to offer the VCs some flexibility to take a position extra slowly, when market situations make {that a} smarter method. So I believe these current funds will simply take for much longer to take a position than individuals may need suspected once they have been shaped, and we’re okay with that. I don’t suppose that within the companies that we put money into, there’s not going to be quite a lot of stress to cut back fund sizes.

Might you maybe be much less diplomatic?

[Laughs.] But it surely’s actually true. They’re simply investing extra slowly.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here