A LinkedIn for Private Equity Fundraising?

Yesterday I spent some time on the phone with Alex Bangash and Jonathan LaCrosse, who recently launched a new online private equity marketplace called Trusted Insight. The idea is to serve as a sort of LinkedIn for institutional investors, in which they can anonymously offer to buy or sell alternative investment funds and portfolio companies.

Here’s how it might work: Imagine I’m an endowment manager looking for some exposure to an early-stage VC fund focused on Brazil. I become a member (after being verified), and type in my parameters. If any such funds are being offered in the system, they will pop up with as much information as the seller wants to disclose. I then “contact” the seller (whose identity I still do not know), who then chooses whether or not to reply (if the seller replies, it would identify itself).

In other words, the company is more about matchmaking than consummation (it’s officially listed as a “passive bulletin board”).

I played around a bit in the system yesterday, and found all sorts of interesting direct and secondary opportunities. It also includes the early stages of a qualitative fund manager comment section (kind of like TheFunded, except from LP perspective rather than portfolio company perspective).

Will it work? I honestly have no idea, but would err on the side of optimism.

Trusted Insight so far has around 500 institutional investors signed up, most of whom are gratis. The paying customers are expected to be fund managers and placement agents, who would be required to shell out either $500 or $1,000 per year (based on number of allowed contacts). LaCrosse – a onetime alternatives manager with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – says that around $1.5 billion of transactions have been “introduced” via Trusted Insight, although he does not yet know how many of those deals have closed.

The company also has raised a $765k seed round from RRE Ventures, The Entrepreneur’s Fund and a group of angels that include Geoff Clark (CV Starr), John Taysom (ex-Reuters), Kenneth Whitney (Blackstone), Virginia Turezyn (ex-ACAS), Mark Goines (Mint chairman) and Roger Krakoff (ex-Sigma Partners).