It’s a years-long trend with no end in sight: venture firms are raising record amounts, owing to growing and sustained fascination from endowments, pension funds, family offices and others who see the sweeping, tech-driven changes all around — from self-driving cars, to new plant-based foods, to far more targeted drugs — and want to be part of that evolution.
The latest beneficiary of the trend: Canaan Partners, a 30-year-old firm that originally spun out of General Electric Capital, and today announced that it has closed on $800 million in commitments for its eleventh fund.
That’s a big leap from the $675 million fund it closed in 2014, as well as the $600 million it raised for its eighth fund in 2012. In fact, Canaan was quick to note, this new fund is its biggest ever.
No doubt, limited partners that are betting on the firm — including longtime Canaan investor HarbourVest Partners — are pleased with its results, which include the sale of gaming company Kabam last December to South Korea’s Netmarble Games for a reported $700 million to $800 million.
Canaan was also an early backer of LendingClub, which went public in 2014. (Unfortunately for investors, LendingClub famously ran into trouble six months later, and it has yet to fully recover. Though it was valued at $9 billion at the time of its IPO, its market cap is currently $2 billion.)
Yet limited partners and the venture firms they back are taking another trend into account, too, when negotiating fundraising in 2017: the fact that it seemingly takes longer than ever for venture-backed companies to exit, and that startups are accruing much of their value as privately held companies.
Famously, Amazon, now valued at roughly $500 billion, had a market cap of $300 million when it went public in 1997, three years after it was founded. Conversely, Uber, which is reportedly valued at between $50 billion and $70 billion, was founded eight years ago and has never discussed a timeline for an IPO.
Maha Ibrahim, one of Canaan’s eight managing directors, spoke on an investor panel hosted by TechCrunch in May that touched on some of these trends.
As it happens, the topic of what happens if Uber never gets its big exit also came up in the discussion, which you can catch below: