Credit crunch conquerors: Revising 2009 vintage VC funds

They say it pays to take risks when others are running for the exits.

If that logic holds true, then one might expect venture funds of the 2009 vintage, at the peak of the credit crisis, would be posting standout returns.

Given the typical 10-year-plus time horizons of venture investors, it’s too early to tell which venture funds from that era will prevail. However early data does indicate a few stand-out funds that have benefitted from high-multiple exits or big up rounds for portfolio companies.

Here are three of the top-performing funds for which returns data is publicly available, according to alternative assets data provider Bison.

Trinity Ventures

Fund: Trinity Ventures X

Size: $307 million

Strategy: Early-stage tech investor focused on cloud, mobile, SaaS, digital media, social and mobile commerce.

Key investments: Zulily (IPO in November), TubeMogul (IPO in July), ServiceMax and Act-On Software.

Performance: 30.6% IRR, 2x multiple, as of March 31, 2014

LP Source: Indiana PRS

Khosla Ventures

Fund: Khosla Ventures III

Size: $1 billion

Strategy: Early-stage through late-stage tech and cleantech deals.

Key investments: Climate Corp. (sold to Monsanto for $930 million), YuMe (IPO in August, 2013) and View (formerly Soladyme, has raised $300 million to date).

Performance: IRR of 17.6% and multiple of 1.7x, as of March 31, 2014.

LP Sources: Indiana PRS, Texas County & District RS

Upfront Ventures


Size: $178 million

Strategy: Early-stage tech, retail and digital media.

Key investments: Maker Studios (sold to Disney for up to $950 million), Burstly (sold to Apple in February) and TrueCar (went public in May, recently valued at $1.8 billion).

Performance: 12.2% IRR, 1.42x multiple as of 2013 year-end.

LP Source: Golden State Investment Fund

Of course, not every 2009 fund has turned in top-notch performance. Following are a couple that have so far posted lower IRRs, according to Bison.


Fund: DFJ Gotham Venture Fund II

Size: $41 million

Strategy: Early-stage technology companies in digital media and other sectors

Key investments: Jibe and Medialets.

Performance: Return multiple of 0.85x, as of March 31, 2014

LP Source: New York State Common Retirement Fund

Azure Capital

Fund: Azure Capital Partners III (fund first filed to raise capital in 2009, but had follow-on filing in 2011)

Fund size: Not available

Strategy: Early-stage tech companies

Key investments: Coraid, Yik Yak, Load Dynamix, Breaktime Studios and Chairish

Performance: 0.96x – 0.90x, as of March 31, 2014

LP Sources: Macquarie HiTIP Fund and Hawaii ERS