Tech Industry

Market malaise hurting VC returns

As the economic slump continues, investors in venture capital funds are seeing lackluster returns, according to a joint report from the venture capital industry.

As the economic slump continues, investors in venture capital funds are seeing lackluster returns, according to a joint report by a venture capital research firm and venture capital association.

An anemic market for initial public offerings and a slow pace for mergers and acquisitions have tempered distributions to limited partners in venture capital funds, according to a joint report Tuesday by Thomson Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Association.

"What is...troubling is that the longer 20-year performance for the entire private equity industry is now less than 15 percent, which albeit is higher by a significant amount than public equities, but barely meets the 15 (percent) to 20 percent expected returns that limited partners had when making these investments," Jesse Reyes, vice president of Thomson Venture Economics, said in a statement.

Venture funds, which tend to have a life of 10 to 12 years, have seen the return on their limited partners' investments fallen of late. A fund started in 1996, for example, would have returned roughly $1.17 on every dollar originally invested after three years. But funds started in 1999 would have returned only 67 cents on every original dollar invested after three years, according to the report.

"It will likely take several years for short-term private equity performance to return back to normal levels, as it will take sometime for company valuations to rise and the IPO and M&A markets to recover," Mark Heesen, National Venture Capital Association president, said in a statement.

In the third quarter, meanwhile, venture capital returns fell 22.3 percent year over year for the period ending Sept. 30. That was a slight improvement over a 28 percent drop in the second quarter compared with the previous year's.