Tiger Global Quietly Amassing Giant Internet Portfolio

When listing the largest e-commerce and digital media venture investors, it’s easy to forget Tiger Global Management.

For one, although the New York-based firm has a venture and private equity arm, it is best known as a hedge fund. For another, Tiger Global goes to great lengths to keep a low profile. It has no website or Facebook page (despite having once bought 3% of the company) and makes a policy of not answering press calls.

But while its public image may be under the radar, Tiger’s investment portfolio is anything but that. In 2012, the firm invested in a surprisingly large portion of the year’s largest global e-commerce deals, participating in rounds of $30 million or more for companies spanning four continents.  This year, Tiger is off to an even bigger start, leading an $800 million debt and equity recapitalization for online survey provider SurveyMonkey at a valuation of about $1.35 billion.

For Tiger Global, big ticket transactions aren’t out of the ordinary. Last year, the firm was a backer in about a third of the largest e-commerce related rounds involving U.S.-based investors. The list includes investments this year in India-based etailer Flipkart, online home décor retailer One Kings Lane and Internet eyewear boutique Warby Parker. Tiger also previously invested in payment provider Square. It’s an active public investor in the space as well, drawing attention recently for its November purchase of 9.9% of Class A shares in Groupon.

Yet the SurveyMonkey transaction is particularly noteworthy in that it is also providing a means of exit for early investors and other stakeholders in the company. In an environment where big-ticket M&A remains muted, and IPOs are hard to pull off, it will be interesting to see if such transactions gain more traction as venture-backed companies look for alternative exit options and private equity investors look for places to put their cash.

Also noteworthy is that Tiger has among the most geographically far-flung portfolios of any later stage investor. A sample of portfolio companies funded in the fourth quarter alone includes ones with headquarters in San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Bangalore and Moscow, according to Thomson Reuters.(VCJ subscribers can see a detailed chart of Tiger’s recent investments here.)

Tiger Global Management’s private equity and venture capital business, run by Scott Shleifer, Lee Fixel, Chase Coleman and Feroz Dewan, oversees about $8  $5 billion in assets according to Reuters reports. Coleman used to be a tech analyst at Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management, one of the most successful hedge fund operators, and launched Tiger Global in 2001 with backing from Robertson.

(The story was corrected to clarify that although Tiger Global is best known as a hedge fund, it also has a venture and private equity arm. The venture and private equity arm manages approximately $5 billion, and is managed primarily by Scott Shleifer, Lee Fixel and Chase Coleman.)

image courtesy of Wikipedia.