Saturday, January 27, 2018 by John Sharp (Hatcher+) 3,519 Views
Two days from now, the world's first early-stage, globally-focused, exchange-tradable VC fund will be open for business - I'm talking of course about our very own Hatcher+ H2 fund, which will list on the Euronext (Amsterdam) and Wiener Bourse exchanges this coming week. Obviously we're excited about this for ourselves and our investors, but not nearly as excited as we are in terms of what this means for our industry. Because we believe this new model - let's call it the "Hatcher+ Venture ETF Model" for want of a better descriptor - is a game-changer.
Why is it a game-changer? Not many family offices currently invest in VC - most are put off by the incredibly long lockup periods - which as the Adams Street chart above shows, can range to 20 years, or even longer (eagle-eyed readers will note that 46% of funds on this chart have not liquidated prior to the 15 year point.) Knowing this, many high net worths also bypass VC funds entirely and go straight to the source - and invest directly in startups.
Both these ideas are bad - the family offices guys that aren't investing in VC are missing out on possibly the best returns in the financial markets. And the HNW guys that invest directly, in our experience, are not seeing nearly enough startups, not applying rigour to their selection process, and not building portfolios that have anywhere near the level of diversity that is required to win big in this asset class.
Worse, they often find themselves tapped in ways they didn't expect - for more (and often much larger) funding amounts, help recruiting (and sometimes selling!), and sometimes - as has been my experience - building databases and code, leading the next round of funding, coaching the CEO on governance, and basic accounting. And while some of this can be fun to do one time, as a single-resource angel, you can quickly find multiple needy investments to be taxing in the extreme.
We've spent more than two years researching this space, talking with family offices and angel investors, and brain-storming approaches that would enable more capital to flow into the ecosystem, and better returns to flow out to investors - in time-periods that better suit the investor's mandates. The model we've came up with - the exchange-tradable venture fund, or Venture ETF - took many months to structure, but now that it's done, it does everything we wanted it to: it enables qualifying investors to allocate to a fund as much capital as they wish (in USD1,000 units via an additional holding structure entity that acts as trustee for the fund units), invest in hundreds of companies, - and then a year or two (or three) down the line, liquidate those holdings via an OTC trade on one of several well-regulated exchanges (Euronext and Wiener Bourse are the first two exchanges that you'll see on our Bloomberg and Reuters pages, but we're in negotiations with two other exchanges in other parts of the world as well, with a target of listing there in Q2.)
We believe this new type of fund structure will accomplish something quite powerful: We think it can change the way that family offices and high net worth individuals think about venture capital investment. We think it will lead to an industry-wide re-examination of age-old venture fund structures, and (currently non-existent) methods of indexing returns, and improving transparency. We think it will disrupt the status quo in ways that our peers will come to respect.
Best of all, we think we can, by promoting this model, enable a greater flow of capital into the startup ecosystem, and a more timely flow of capital back to investors.
If you're a traditionally-structured VC or investor, and you're Interested in learning more about our model, just call us. We'd be happy to take you through the structure. Because while our AI-based early-stage investment algorithms are secret, nothing about this structure is secret or proprietary - any VC fund can do what we've just done with a little work (ok, quite a bit of work - around a year), some good lawyers, and a willingness to change.
John is a Partner at Hatcher Plus, the leading data-driven venture capital investment firm. John has extensive commercial experience at the senior management level, having been the Chief Executive Officer of Authentium, Inc. the Managing Director, Asia, of WorldSpace, and CEO of Hatcher, the precursor company to Hatcher+. A tenacious and driven executive with longstanding board-level and C-suite level management experience within high-growth companies, John also brings a strong history of capital raising from an extensive network of investors globally. As Chairman and CEO of cybersecurity pioneer Authentium (acquired by CYREN in 2010), John co-authored three US patents and developed and sold cybersecurity solutions to some the largest organizations in the world, including the US Department of Commerce, NASA, AOL, British Telecom, Comcast, Cox Communications, Google, McAfee, Microsoft, Symantec, and Telstra. As CTO at Hatcher+, DocDoc, Heardable, and ThoughtRiver, John has designed and developed several highly-innovative technology platforms using cutting-edge approaches to data processing, user interface design, and workflow optimization. John is a frequent blogger and an in-demand speaker at venture events globally, and has extensive experience implementing ESG solutions as Chairman and/or board member of numerous start-ups, including director roles at trade finance provider ASYX and payment aggregator Mozido, and roles as Chairman of MENA-based financial services pioneer Telr, and the leading Cambridge-based legal services technology company, ThoughtRiver.
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