Author: Anna Heim

How public markets can help address venture capital’s limitations



British venture capital firm Draper Esprit recently moved its listing from the AIM to the main board in London, the LSE. The investing group also moved its secondary listing from Dublin’s Euronext Growth Market to its larger sister exchange, Euronext Dublin, which makes sense given its long connection to Irish capital.

Draper has always felt like something of an anomaly from our perspective, a generalist venture capital firm that was itself public. But this July, Forward Partners listed its shares on the AIM, and there are other venture firms in Europe that are also listed.

At first blush, the setup may seem odd; venture capital firms invest in companies that they hope to see go public one day — why would they float themselves? But Draper Esprit co-founder Stuart Chapman told TechCrunch in an interview that he finds it shocking “that venture capital backs some of the most mind-blowing tech advances in our history over the last 70 years, using the same legal structure as a 1958 property vehicle in New York.” It’s a reasonable point.

Perhaps fundraising success is part of why the venture model has not seen much disruption in recent decades, apart from rising fund sizes. But the model is not perfect. It can foist artificial time constraints on investors and force them to focus their deal flow into particular stages for fund-construction reasons. As we found out researching this piece, the public venture model highlights some of these limitations — and may be able to (Read more...)