In 2004, Peter Thiel made a now legendary $500,000 angel investment in Facebook which has been called by some the most lucrative angel investment ever made. And while Thiel continues to make individual angel investments to this day, the PayPal co-founder has gone on to become a prominent venture capitalist starting not just one venture capital fund but three separate venture capital funds – all of which are currently active. In addition to three VCs, Thiel also has found time to start hedge fund, Clarium Capital Management, which at its peak had assets under management (AUM) of $7.2 billion but which according to Bloomberg saw AUM shrink by 90%. He’s also involved with the Thiel Fellowship which provides financial support to young geniuses to pursue entrepreneurship (in lieu of regular universities). Yes – he is a busy man.
On the venture capital front, Thiel co-founded Founders Fund shortly after his Facebook Investment in 2005. In addition, within the last two years, Thiel unveiled a $32M investment fund named Valar Ventures and Mithril Capital Management which closed its $540M growth stage fund in October 2013 (targeting $1B). In Valar, Thiel invested alongside NZVIF, the New Zealand government’s VC and seed co-investment arm, as well as several private New Zealand investors including Rangatira, a Wellington-based investment management company. Mithril is a growth stage venture fund that per the firm aims to invest in “companies that have moved beyond the traditional venture-backed stage and prefer to remain private as they mature.”
Because it’s generally uncommon for an individual to be associated with, much less start, so many different VC firms, we wanted to dig in to some high-level data around Thiel’s investment arms. Specifically, how has Thiel’s oldest VC, Founders Fund, fared recently and whether the firm has slowed its deal pace in the wake of Thiel’s new firms.
On the exit front, Founders Fund has notched a dozen portfolio M&A or IPO exits since the start of 2012. The firm has seen just one exit in 2013 with a disclosed valuation over $100M (Climate Corp.’s $930M acquisition by Monsanto). The chart below highlights Founders Fund exits with disclosed valuations since 2007. While Founders Fund has seen fewer large exits as of late, its important to note that its active portfolio includes several firms on the current Tech IPO Pipeline including AirBnB, Palantir Technologies and ZocDoc.
On the financing front, Founders Fund investment pace has continued to be steady. In fact, Thiel’s launch of Valar and Mithril in 2012 came in the same year that Founders Fund completed its highest amount of financing deals in four years. In the first nine months of 2013, Founder’s Fund and its seed-stage fund FF Angel have already participated in over 30 deals suggesting that Thiel’s new investment vehicles haven’t impacted Founders Fund investment pace.
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