State to VCs: Time for a Paycut

Matt Bowman · July 13, 2009 · Short URL:

CA Controller says VCs may need to reduce their fees to get CalPERS investment dollars.

At a Churchill Club meeting in Mountain View on Thursday, Michael Moritz (Sequoia Capital, two-time Forbes’ Midas List overall winner) had California controller John Chiang in the hotseat for an hour to grill him on the state's finances.  When Moritz asked about pension funds, Chiang hinted that venture capital could see even less money than might be hoped from CalPERS and CalSTRS, two of the biggest limited-partner sugar daddies that fuel the Valley's VC firms.

In what appeared to be a bit of on-stage negotiating, Chiang intimated that many “alternative investments” were not “high quality,” and that the standard 2-and-20 fees typically doled out to fund managers (2% of the overall fund value plus 20% of the profits) would have to be re-evaluated.

In other words, if VCs, who as an asset class have performed poorly in the last decade, want a piece of California’s shrinking public funds, they’re going to have to take a serious paycut.

For just a moment, it looked like Moritz, not Chiang, was in the hotseat.

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