I recently dug into some surprising data on first-time VC funds from several top academic researchers. Conventional wisdom holds that VC is a risky asset class. Imagine how much more risky first-time funds should be! Turns out that this isn’t the case when one looks at a broad set of VC funds throughout the past few decades.
-The average first-time VC fund historically performed better than the average venture fund overall
-The average first-time VC fund has historically outperformed the S&P
-Many people believe that only top quartile VC funds outperform the S&P, whereas the paper found that funds in the top three quartiles have beaten the S&P on average. The researchers claim to use a more accurate dataset than past studies.
This article suggests a reason why existing firms might fall behind first-time funds. (The article references buyouts, but I think this makes sense for VC too)
-The hypothesis is that first-time funds do better because “partners at successful firms may become a little less hungry, a little more risk-averse, which can lead to more modest returns.”