Why not put capital to work when it’s actually worth something?
One easy complaint to make when it comes to venture capital is that it’s mostly not. Venture-ous, that is. It’s definitely capital.
During the last decade, for example, a huge portion of venture capital investment went into software-as-a-service companies, some of the least risky private technology companies out there. Sure, some fail, but the SaaS model tends to be durable, and its performance trackable to the point that anyone with a pencil can model out future growth and come to a valuation conclusion.
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Where are the venturesome gambles on space factories, superfoods and the like? Sorry — you got DocuSign instead.
But not all funds are timid, even if we find the present lack of material wagers on mega-projects disappointing. No, some funds are bucking the downturn by raising new, huge venture vehicles to invest in markets that don’t appear healthy from an outsider’s perspective. In a sense, this is actual venture capital activity, as the investors are taking their money on an adventure into parts — and market conditions — unknown.
That makes recent funds from Sequoia Capital China and a16z all the more interesting to talk about. And why their returns could be all the sweeter.
Zagging while others zig
Briefly, the news: Sequoia Capital China is raising a huge new fund. That means that the Sequoia crew is gearing up to spend a bank’s worth of cash in the country. Welcome news, assuredly, to the beleaguered Chinese technology ecosystem that has seen slowing growth and increasing layoffs. But why now? One reason could be that the Chinese tech market is just that: beleaguered.
Next up: a16z’s massive new crypto fund. Worth some $4.5 billion, it’s the company’s biggest yet, and, like the Sequoia fund, it could represent a material portion of the upcoming venture funding for its chosen market, namely web3.
As China’s venture capital market and technology industry suffer and the crypto industry endures rapid climate change from NFT Summer to Meltdown Winter, investors with a thesis about both areas of investment are raising new, huge funds.
Why do the opposite of the market? Because that’s — potentially, at least — where the money is.