Slideshow: IRRs From CalPERS’ Brand Name Venture Funds Underwhelm (Part I)

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System recently updated the online posting of its venture holdings, and there are several interesting takeaways worth reporting.

First, it should be noted that CalPERS, the nation’s largest public pension fund, owns stakes in about 217 venture capital funds, nine percent of its private equity portfolio.

Like many pension managers, it has shown recent apprehension about the asset class. The fund made 24 venture investments in 2008, but bought into only seven new funds in 2009 and four in 2010, according to a peHUB analysis of the data, which is updated through December 2010.

What’s more, the IRRs from many of its brand name venture funds appear to underwhelm, illustrating the difficult times firms have manage through in the past decade.

Unfortunately, CalPERS doesn’t offer overall returns for its venture portfolio in the recent data. But it reports that its venture holdings have a value of $2.6 billion and unfunded commitments of $1.76 billion, for a total exposure of $4.36 billion. Its contributions, on the other hand, add up to a larger $4.4 billion.

In the following two weeks, we will offer a variety of slideshows dissecting the portfolio in a variety of ways. We will highlight top funds, point to recent investments and examine returns by vintage year.

Today we offer the first of a two-part look at a selection of CalPERS’ brand name funds, starting with those dating from 2005 and before. Part II in coming days will zero in on brand names from 2006 and later.

I think it is fair to say many of these top pedigree funds have less impressive returns than might be imagined (order is alphabetical). Decide for yourself:


  • Interesting to see an article on peHub focusing on IRR instead of multiple of cash for a change. Maybe if the various residents of VC land weren’t so focused on multiples, they could generate a decent IRR.

  • I guess it’s more a reflection of the market in general. To put those numbers (mostly 1999-2001) in perspective: The pooled IRR benchmarks (State Street) for those 3 vintage years are -0.8%, 0.6% and 2.3% respectively.

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