The rocky state of venture’s chattiest cohort
Entrepreneur Ankur Nagpal raised a $70 million venture fund last year, called Vibe Capital, from over 200 investors. But now, as the market shifts and LPs are less interested in venture capital, the Ocho founder is shrinking the fund side by roughly 43%, canceling capital calls, and, ultimately, sending back money that had already been wired to the fund.
The contraction, Nagpal told TechCrunch, occurred because he’s busy building his own startup and the funding environment has shifted to more realistic expectations: “What looked like a $10 billion outcome is now a $1 billion dollar outcome.” As a result, he says he’s more confident on returning a higher multiple if he’s investing from a smaller fund size.
His LPs were surprised but “super happy” to get the capital back, Nagpal said. Since announcing the cut, the founder says that five different solo GPs have messaged him asking for introductions to LPS who just got capital back. “I think the reality is a lot of these people who are getting money back are actually not going to allocate it to venture anymore.” One of Nagpal’s biggest investors is Tiger Global, which has become notorious for retreating from venture fund bets. His other investors, namely venture funds, will likely use the capital to bet on new startups out of their own fund, he said.
In Nagpal’s case, the move will let him put 90% of his time into his new startup. But he says others in the solo GP world are going through a rough time. Many are shrinking fund goals, extending fundraising timelines, teaming up with investors to avoid team risk or even going toward placement agents, once taboo in the world of fundraising, to help them close investors in exchange for a fee. “Even the ones who are taking it seriously are actually now trying to build a firm, so you’re kind of becoming the thing that you were trying to replace,” he said.
It’s a shift from the fund of fund mentality that felt commonplace last year, in which investment firms cut checks to early-stage, experimental investors to de-risk and even lead first checks into a generation of new startups. At the time, Tiger announced its $1 billion fund to back other funds but has since reneged. Alexis Ohanian and Katelin Holloway’s fund, 776, dedicated $10 million of its $500 million set of funds to back emerging fund managers. (The firm did not respond to requests for comment on an update of the fund allocation.) Other efforts, like Spearhead, a platform to turn founders into angel investors built by AngelList’s Naval Ravikant and Accomplice’s Jeff Fagnan, appear to no longer be active.
The history of solo GPs
Before solo GPs were in the spotlight, they were set aside. LPs weren’t giving lone venture capitalists meaningful capital, but as entrepreneurs with massive networks sought to formalize some of their angel investing operations, the deal sweetened. Add in the fact that platforms like AngelList made it easier and cheaper to set up a fund and handle all associated admin fees, and the jokes started rolling: Anyone with opinions and a following on Tech Twitter could start a fund.