Lessons for Investors and Entrepreneurs

May, 2019

Abe and Alan shared some key observations on investing in startups and funds over the last few decades years. They have spent 15+ years leading Vintage towards managing $1.8M+ as Israel’s largest secondary fund, fund of funds and co-investment funds so we were certain they would have a lot to say. Here are some of the biggest takeaways along with the full transcript from the podcast:

You can listen to the episode by searching ‘Vintage Voices’ wherever you get your podcasts or clicking the link below. Here are links to some of the highlights from the conversation:
Characteristics that define a good entrepreneur

Building a VC vs Building a startup

Three core lessons for investors

Venture capital requires long-term thinking

Full Transcript

Evan:                     All right, you’re listening to the Vintage Voices podcast series, episode two. On our podcast, we touch upon the topics that most affect you as a venture capitalist, as a startup founder, or even someone who’s interested in the global tech industry. I’m Evan Chesir, your host.

Evan:                     Last episode, we discussed VC funds, and specifically, emerging funds, how they can best pitch themselves and make themselves stand out. We discussed how a fund can create a community and bring value to a portfolio. One of the guests, our very own Abe Finkelstein, General Partner here at Vintage brought up reflections on evaluating funds, and we realized you have quite a few years under your belt, evaluating and analyzing the tech industry, both startups and funds. In that light, and with the turn of 2019 upon us, I invited Abe back …

Abe:                      Thank you. Thank you very much.

Evan:                     Welcome back.

Abe:                      I appreciate it.

Evan:                     … To reflect on 20 plus years, right?

Abe:                      Yup.

Evan:                     … Of investing into tech and not only that, but I also have co-founder and Managing Partner, Alan Feld. Hi Alan.

Alan:                      Hi. How are you, Evan?

Evan:                     I’m doing great. Thanks for coming.

Alan:                      My pleasure.

Evan:                     Brief background. Alan founded Vintage back in 2002 after the dot com bust, and has led the firm up to today, where we manage $1.8 billion. Vintage has really carved out its place as a technology investor, driver of a venture capital ecosystem, and a major player invested in an ecosystem of thousands of technology startups.

Evan:                     Let’s have a conversation about the last few decades. I’ll start with you. What are the biggest changes that you’ve seen in the entrepreneurs of 2018 versus 2008, 1998? I don’t know if you can go back to 1988.

Alan:                      The entrepreneurs, actually the best entrepreneurs I tend to see come into the market when the market is down. If you look at some of the best companies that were ever created, they were created, actually, in down markets, when it’s difficult to raise money, when getting customers is a challenge. Those guys, who will fight in the difficult times to build the business, in many cases, turn out to be some of the best entrepreneurs.

Alan:                      The best companies I saw were in, actually, 1988, which was after the 1987 crash or after the 2001 crash. Or the guys who started companies in 2002 and 2003, or in 2009, ’10 when raising venture capital was a real challenge. The cream comes to the top, especially when it’s a challenge.

Evan:                     Any examples that you could share, specific on that?

Alan:                      Well, I’m going back a long time. I mean, became a very large company, but if you look at what Tom Siebel did when he created Siebel Systems, I mean, going back a long, long time. There’s the famous legend around him, which was actually true. Around him not having enough money to buy desks. They used to take doors that people had thrown away and put them on brackets, and those were people’s desks.

Alan:                      I mean, it’s that grit, that tough approach that, “Hey, we don’t necessarily need the pool table in the office in order to attract people, but we’re going to build really something significant and we’re going to do it right.” Those are, I think, the great entrepreneurs.

Abe:                      By the way, I don’t think I can go back to 1988, but I think I might be my lemonade stand or paper route or something as an entrepreneur. I’d say one of the changes that I’m also seeing is that, I think kind of going back even to ’98 and ’08, a lot of what venture was, was like tech. There was some consumer in there.

Abe:                      Now, I think what we’re seeing is a lot of tech enabled services and entrepreneurs who maybe don’t even come from engineering or tech backgrounds coming into the market and saying, “I want to disrupt a market that affects me directly.” I think we’re seeing that, whether it’s things like, Uber or the next dog walking service or things like that, but a lot enabled services.

Abe:                      Also, entrepreneurs these days are aiming, I think, for much, much larger outcomes than they have in the past. Some of that is because of access to capital, which we can talk about. It might not necessarily be a good thing, but I think that’s definitely also a big shift over the past decade or a couple of decades as well.

Evan:                     You’re seeing more founders not from the backgrounds of the startups that they’re starting?

Abe:                      Yeah, so there’s that, but also, that entrepreneurs are not necessarily those that have software or engineering or coding degrees. Just people from multiple types of backgrounds.

Alan:                      Yeah. I’ve seen, actually, people start off with domain expertise. I mean, I agree with Abe’s comments very much. I think what people are saying, “Look, there’s an industry that should be disrupted. Technology is the enabler to disruption. Technology is not the end in itself.”

Alan:                      What they’re saying is, “Hey, I’ve been in this industry for 5, 10, 15 years. The way it’s being done today doesn’t make sense.” Certainly, any industry where there’s an element of agency in the middle is being disrupted. Even banking, essentially, is an agent between suppliers of capital and users.

Alan:                      I mean, there’s so many industries that whatever the way you look at them, I mean, there’s an element of agency there. Almost all those industries are being disrupted by, in many cases, not always, but in many cases by, by people who actually came from the industry and know it well and decide, “Hey, I’ve got to do something here.”

Alan:                      You are seeing, however, people who came from engineering backgrounds who are saying, “You know what? I’d rather be the guy doing the disruption rather than the guy providing tools to do the disruption.”

Alan:                      I think certainly in Israel, that’s a change, where we were much more players in providing tools to disrupters rather than being the disrupters ourselves. You see a far larger number, certainly in Israel, for example. One change here we’ve seen of people wanting to own the customer, not being the one who was providing the information to the guy who owns the customer. Sorry.

Evan:                     Interesting. Two things that come to mind based on what you said. One is, you talked about the grit you needed to start a company. You started a fund. Was it the same skillset, the same scenario of, did you have desks here that you have to hammer together type of thing? Or …

Alan:                      Yeah. I mean, Vintage at the time … Abe joined after the first close, getting to a first close was not trivial then. It was, started working on it in 2002. Raising money in 2002 after the crash was not simple. People had just lost 80% of … the NASDAQ index had gone down 80%.

Alan:                      You’re saying to people, “Hey, do you want to invest in tech?” They said, “I just lost 80% of my money in tech.” Like, “Are you serious?” It was a challenge. It took us a good year and a half to build it. When I did the first close, Abe joined, and the rest is history.

Abe:                      By the way, speaking of, what Alan said, I think that Alan started the firm, and in my conversations with him about it, it was clear that just like an entrepreneur in a tech company, saw a hole in the market, he saw something that wasn’t being done efficiently in a great way that he could tap into.

Abe:                      The vision was for Alan, and again, from many conversations, that you wanted to start your own firm, that you wanted to build something that would be here for the next decades upon decades.

Alan:                      We’ve had all the challenges that every startup has, which is, “How do you manage growth? Building a culture. Making sure you’re retaining your great people. Making some hard decisions, periodically, about people, and making our customers, which are our investors, happy.”

Alan:                      It’s, again, it’s not just returns, it’s service, it’s all these other things. Yeah, in many ways there are similarities but, of course, it’s something different, which … I have huge respect …

Alan:                      I think one of the problems in our, in the venture industry is that I don’t think some of, enough investors who have never been entrepreneurs themselves show the respect to entrepreneurs that entrepreneurs deserve. It is really hard, and it’s often lonely being an entrepreneur. Everybody makes mistakes. They’ll make mistakes, but you know what? It’s one thing to provide, hopefully, constructive criticism. It’s another thing to beat up on somebody, especially when you haven’t been in their shoes.

Alan:                      One of the things that I think has maybe actually been a positive thing that I’ve seen over the years is VCs now have understood the centrality of entrepreneurs and react accordingly.

Alan:                      We did some research here, for example, on all the exits since 2008 above 150 million, and well over 75% of the companies in M&A, and it’s over 90% in IPO, the person who ran the company at the time of exit was the entrepreneur.

Alan:                      We, as both investors when we invest in later stage companies but also, I think, things we want to see in our funds is … If you don’t believe in the entrepreneur and if you don’t think the entrepreneur can scale, don’t invest. To be successful, it has to be a genuine partnership.

Alan:                      Today even, if you look at who’s running the most successful companies in the last two decades, that were started in the last couple of decades, whether it’s Facebook, it’s the entrepreneur running it. Google, it’s the entrepreneur in the back running it. You see this repeatedly. It’s the …

Alan:                      They’re the ones who have got the long-term vision. They’re ones who no matter what, with scratching their nails on whatever they have to do to keep the business alive and keeping it innovative, they’re crucial. Hopefully, there’s an alignment now between great entrepreneurs but also people who respect those entrepreneurs.

Evan:                     Yean, so on that point, what do you think is the biggest … Is that the biggest lesson that investors into startups should take looking forward? When you reflect on the last 30 years, what’s the number one thing that investors should keep in mind?

Abe:                      Yeah, so I mean, looking over the last, let’s say 20 or so years.

Evan:                     20 years is still a long time.

Abe:                      I appreciate it. I think a lot of it around, at least what I’ve learned, is two things. Is that really in venture, in our business, is that you really have to be in the market through cycles. Meaning that you can’t go in and then come out, and go in and come out. Some of that is around timing in the market.

Abe:                      There’s no doubt you need to kind of calibrate the pace of your investments. For example, we always talk about it all the time. We made a lot of investments in 2008, 2009, but we sure as hell wish we would’ve done a lot more. That’s really, really important is that, again, it’s kind of very simplistic and kind of classic investing, but it’s buy low, sell high.

Abe:                      With that being said, within venture, you don’t want to kind of pick and choose by, let’s say, the Vintage year, as we called it, when a fund is established or when the fund itself is investing to say, “Oh, I’m out of the market. The market isn’t going well.” Or, “The market’s too high. I’m not going to invest in anything.” It’s more about calibrating the pace. I would say that’s probably my biggest lesson over the years, investing in companies.

Alan:                      I probably have three core lessons. One is, venture’s all about the entrepreneur. When I look at a direct investment, my principle focus is on the entrepreneur. Because in the 30 years I’ve done this, I’ve met probably several hundred, but probably now well over the thousands of seed companies.

Alan:                      I’ve never seen a seed company that they built a business exactly the way, with a product and with a strategy that they presented in their first meeting. In other words, the company ended up becoming far different. The great entrepreneurs are the ones who are prepared to constantly question themselves, constantly question their strategy, and adjust and work to find that product market fit.

Alan:                      Because the likelihood that your initial hypothesis of where the product market fit is, it’s probably a 99.9% chance that it’s not there, that you will evolve it over time. The guys who aren’t prepared to understand the market, to listen to the market, to really understand where the world is going, but are trying to impose their vision of the world should be going, those guys don’t tend to be particularly successful.

Alan:                      The second thing … I look as a direct investor, certainly, my focus is on the entrepreneurs, but as an investor in funds, I’m looking for funds who are going to attract the best entrepreneurs, who are a magnet for the best entrepreneurs. Certainly, those who can attract great entrepreneurs, whether they’re first time or second time or third time entrepreneurs, are going to provide, by far, the best returns.

Alan:                      Second thing is you can over-fund a company. There seems to be, there’s a tendency today, and I saw this again, I saw this in 2000, in 1990 and 2000. I saw it again in the early ’90s, that people start investing based on how much money they have available to invest, and not based on how much the company needs.

Alan:                      You’re not going to shorten the product development cycle. There’s a point at which additional money won’t shorten the product development cycle. All it will do is, it keeps the company from being hungry and aggressive. Having too much money can change, negatively, the culture in a startup. I’m seeing, I’ve seen entrepreneurs saying, “Hey, I desperately need a unicorn valuation. You know what? I’ll take that 100 or $200 million.”

Alan:                      Now that may all work when the market’s going up. Somebody who’s been through four down markets in my career since 1986, that’s not a good place to be, because that preference stack falls right on top of you when the markets start going down and you have to raise additional capital and-

Evan:                     Are there any specific examples you could point to?

Alan:                      Unfortunately, I invested in a whole bunch of them, so I’ll save you the pain. [crosstalk 00:14:51] I’ll save you the pain. The third thing that I think is crucial is there’s sometimes a tendency that people define themselves as category leaders. The problem is, they’re defining the category about one inch wide.

Alan:                      I think, and Abe alluded to this before, I think people have to start thinking, “Okay, what do I want this company to be five years from now?” Of course, it’s going to change but, “What’s the general vision? How do I build a broad …” Certainly, you see this, it should be the case in the B2B space.

Alan:                      “How do I build a broad solution that’s going to address where the market’s going?” A lot of startups think about, “Okay, well how do I partner with other companies? How do I connect to them?” I think they’ve got to start thinking about, “How do I make sure that in five years from now, everybody’s connecting to me?” There isn’t enough, there aren’t a lot of entrepreneurs who are thinking in those terms.

Alan:                      Again, we’re looking for, as investors, people who are thinking of, “How do I build a really genuinely big business?” Who think of not, “How do I own a category? How do I expand the category? How do I expand … How do I take other categories and put it into one much larger category?” Those are, I think, the differences between the decent entrepreneurs and the truly great entrepreneurs.

Evan:                     It sounds a little bit like a catch 22 though. Because from what you’re saying, on the one hand you have to have a vision for how you, as a company, will be at the middle point that everyone will come to. On the other hand, your business plan is going to shift and your strategy is going to need a shift. Is that a conflict? Or …

Alan:                      Not really, because I think … Look, initially you will be partnering with other people, but that can’t be the end game. There has to be, essentially, an interim step to get to the end game. The end game is having a broad solution in a very large market.

Alan:                      If you look at, and this is true, now, actually, when I think about it, not only in B2B, it’s also true in B2C. If you look at some of the VC companies that have been going … They’re, aside just providing a service, they’re providing unique ways for payments. They’re providing data to their customers. They’re providing all sorts of additional services well beyond the core service.

Alan:                      The guys who have figured that out, A, lock themselves in much more significantly, into their customer, or at least part of their customer base, and also find additional sources of revenue.

Alan:                      One of the interesting things that maybe is different now, when I look back in 2000, the penetration of the Internet was not nearly where it is today. The fact that we have this kind of penetration means that you can … You see this now with marketplaces and network effects.

Alan:                      It was really, it was almost impossible to have a network effects related company 20 years ago. There just wasn’t enough users. Now, that penetration means you can build, if you do it well, you could build a network effects business incredibly quickly.

Alan:                      If you look at how fast Airbnb has grown and taken market share away from companies that have been in business for 50, 100, 200 years, that’s unprecedented. You see this, the Israeli Waze. At the end of the day, once they cracked, “How do you get 1% of the cars in one area?” They did it through gamification, but getting 1% of the companies within an area using Waze, it was almost impossible then to replicate that model, because you had this base. That’s now enabled in a way that we never saw in 2000.

Alan:                      The entrepreneurs who are really smart, raising the right amount of money, who are thinking about, “How do I change a gigantic area?” For example, transportation. Those are clearly the guys who are going to be the ones building the big companies of the future. We’re looking for those kinds of guys, or we’re looking for guys who invest in those kinds of companies.

Abe:                      By the way, that’s what we talked in the beginning around kind of the tech enabled services. Again, I think Alan’s totally right on the partnership. I think entrepreneurs 10, 20 years ago said, “Okay, I want to go to market. I need to have a partner. There’s already a big player in the market. I’m going to go via that partner.”

Abe:                      Today, they don’t need to do that. In fact, I need to check what company it was, I believe it was PayPal. They were talking about how somebody came into PayPal and the first thing that they did, this was very early on, said, “We’re cutting off all of our partnerships because we don’t know the customer directly. We need to learn the customer directly. We need to be connected,” and we can do that today.

Abe:                      All these partnerships, we’re hearing it from more and more companies, “Are almost a waste of time for us.” I think, again, that’s why we’re seeing these companies being able to scale dramatically in ways that they haven’t scaled in the past.

Evan:                     Cool. Now, looking ahead instead of behind. Looking 10, 20, 30 years ahead, where would you put your money? Abe.

Abe:                      Well, in Vintage. Look, we’re invested in venture capital and like I said, we’re not going in and out of the market. I do think there’s two things. I think one of the missed stories of 2018 or maybe one of the underplayed stories that I think will persist over the next five years is Europe and venture capital.

Abe:                      Europe performed very, very well this year. We hit, we saw the IPO of Spotify, of Adyen, of Farfetch. These are multi-billion companies that actually went public and made venture capitalists money. I think we’re going to see Europe, as a whole, produce similar companies over the next 5 to 10 years. Very, very large companies. In fact, again, I think it’s a very much an under-reported story.

Abe:                      The other thing is, venture capital, in general, is going through a pretty dramatic shift. I think we talked about it on the last podcast, with new emerging managers. In some cases, these are single GPs. I wouldn’t be surprised if that continues, that we see a whole new breed of managers that become the next Benchmark, that become the next Sequoia, that become the next Lightspeed over the next 5 to 10 years.

Abe:                      The next 20 to 30 years, I’ll I’ll leave it to Alan to reference. Those are two of the things that I think though, that’s where I would be putting, that’s where we’re putting our money as well.

Alan:                      I agree with every word that Abe said, all very important and insightful comments. In venture, I look at 10 year horizons. Again, having been doing this or being in the investment area since ’86 and having seen ups and downs, you can’t look at this investment as anything less than … “What’s it going to look like in 20 years?”

Alan:                      What I mean by that is I know that there are going to be … The great venture managers will always have at least one fund in a cycle. They won’t turn out great. The trick is to think, first of all, in very long terms. This is very much a marathon and not a sprint.

Alan:                      We’re looking for the people who are going to have, A, the ability to weather the storm. Because it’s a fairly reasonable assumption that the course of the next 5 to 10 years, there’s going to be some downturn in the market, it may happen earlier rather than later.

Alan:                      We want the groups that are not tourists in the space. We want the guys who are committed long-term to the space. Because we’re committed long-term to the space. This is all we do. We don’t, we’re not going to wake up tomorrow morning and because the tech markets are down, start investing in trees. What we do is we invest in funds and companies that are trying to create innovation.

Alan:                      In fact, down markets for us is … It’s very conceivable that over the next 10 years, we’re going to see pretty significant down markets. For us, it’s an opportunity to increase our allocation in the funds we want to be in, and double down.

Alan:                      As Abe said, this business is getting in at the bottom. For us, being a long-term, and being perceived as a long-term partner for venture funds and for companies, by the way, is crucial.

Alan:                      That’s one comment. The other thing I think that’s going to be crucial is, again, I think the time to be incredibly aggressive in venture is especially when there’s a down market. Because I’ll tell the entrepreneurs, as I say, as I said at the beginning, who come out, in many cases, are some of the best entrepreneurs you will see. The ones who decide to be entrepreneurs when it’s really tough to raise money.

Alan:                      The second thing is, it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur because building your team is a lot cheaper. You don’t have 50 competitors doing the same thing as you are tomorrow morning. The opportunity to, if you’re thinking in broad terms, that you can pick up and acquire other companies that aren’t getting funded and really build that broad solution. Not only internally, but actually acquire some of that talent to build it much more broadly, it’s a great opportunity.

Alan:                      Actually, for us … This is an industry that’s manic depressant. When it goes down, everybody thinks it’s over. When it goes up-

Evan:                     Think it’s going to last forever.

Alan:                      Think it’s going to last forever. Every time I hear somebody say, “This time it’s different,” I know we’re at the edge. One of the things I’ve learned over the many years I’ve been involved in this is, if you can really, really be extremely active and be supportive of your funds and your companies when the markets are difficult, that’s where you’re going to do your best.

Abe:                      By the way, this has been a big concern of mine and ours as well, is that we’re now in an up-market for over a decade, probably the longest, I think it is the longest-

Alan:                      In a century.

Abe:                      In a century, in terms of an up-market and bull market. We have a lot of … There are a lot of funds out there and a lot of entrepreneurs out there who’ve never been through a cycle. Alan always like to say, “There’s something called gravity.”

Alan:                      Yeah.

Abe:                      That’s going to come at some point, so I see that’s going to be a big opportunity for Vintage. It’s definitely a concern of ours that there’s just a lot of people in venture capital who started after 2008.

Evan:                     One point that you mentioned, Abe, in a recent article was that the time to exit has gotten longer. I think it’s over 10 years now on average, right?

Abe:                      It depends on how you look at it, but it is long.

Evan:                     Do you think it’s going to stay that way? What do you attribute this …

Abe:                      Well, look, I think there are different views on it and I’ll start. Alan, you may have a different take. It definitely feels like, and that’s what the statistics are showing, that the average exit is taking longer. There’s a lot more money out there on the private side. We talked about the 100, 200, 300 $400 million rounds where those, back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, even probably a decade, that those were the IPOs. Entrepreneurs definitely have options now to keep their companies private longer.

Abe:                      There are opportunities to realize some capital on a secondary basis along the way as a private company. That’s also something that we do as many people know, but it’s definitely taking longer. I think that’s another key factor that, I mean, when we look at funds, for example, we want to see managers who have given some thought to that.

Abe:                      The idea being is that you have your winners and those are, whatever it is, 20% of the portfolio and maybe sometimes even less, and you have the other ones that are not your winners. We want to see managers that are very thoughtful about getting out of those companies quickly, because you can do that. You can get out of the 80% of the portfolio in a relatively shorter time period. That may even be three to six years as opposed to waiting 10 years.

Abe:                      The biggest, best companies probably will, at this point, take a decade to get out of. We want to see, for example, again, managers that are being thoughtful about those other companies. When we look at the statistics as a whole, we may not be seeing that, that there are these types of companies that you can actually turn over relatively quickly.

Alan:                      Yeah, I agree. I would, again, going back, in this case, a little bit over 20 years. I remember when I, in ’94, I had become a banker. 1994, I’m not talking ’84, not 1894.

Evan:                     I was alive.

Alan:                      Still 1994, working for a joint venture between Robertson Stephens and another group, and doing banking for Robertson Stephens in the U.S. They were called the Four Horsemen. There was Hambrecht & Quist, Robertson Stephens, Montgomery and Alex Brown.

Alan:                      You had that mid-tier group of spectacular analysts, industry focused bankers. You could take a company public with 30, 40, $50 million in revenues. Today, the threshold is easily $200 million in revenues for a B2B company and probably about $400 million revenue for a B2C company. By definition, the bar has been raised far more than it was before.

Alan:                      At the end of the day, look, one of the things that we’ve seen is people are saying, “Hey, I don’t have to IPO. I can sell stuff off on a secondary basis.” Let’s be realistic. If you invested in Uber at $60 billion, you’re not going to $100 billion of secondary activity in the private market there. It just won’t happen. These companies are still going to have to go public whether they like it or not at some point, so there’s formal liquidity in the stock and you can get out.

Alan:                      The exchanges and all that stuff, the private exchanges and all that stuff will never really be able to handle that kind of capacity, so it’s going to have to come at some point. Hopefully, the markets will last long enough for that to happen. We’ll see.

Alan:                      The other thing that I think, on the other hand, while the bar has been raised, which means it takes longer to start a company, the time to first customer has gotten shorter. Because you’ve got, technology today, in many ways, almost like you’d build a marketplace out of a box kind of thing and you could build a SAS, the technology portion … Or the infrastructure portion, I should say, not the technology portion … The infrastructure portion of a SAS business out of a box.

Alan:                      Frankly, you can rent it from Amazon and build your application on top of the Amazon infrastructure. I mean that, once, you had to build all that infrastructure. It cost you a lot of money to build your own storage, your own servers, your own platforms, and so the time to first customer is certainly much faster.

Alan:                      At the end of the day, we have seen companies that have become very substantial companies within a decade. It wasn’t so easy to be companies of that size within a decade 20, 30 years ago. On the one hand, the bar’s been raised but on the other hand, if you look at the growth patterns of a lot of the companies today, as I say, they’re getting to first customer much faster, but they’re growing in ways that I don’t recall companies growing 20, 30 years ago.

Alan:                      That’s what actually, frankly, makes me long-term optimistic. Which is, I don’t know where the markets are going to be. I think there’s going to be probably, at best, choppiness but more likely sometime during the next 5 to 10 years, some significant … Whether it’s politically caused or otherwise, some fairly challenging periods.

Evan:                     Challenging …

Alan:                      The combination of the opportunity for disruption, the relatively quick way you can get … Relatively low cost way you can get the first customer. Assuming, again, that not everybody and their grandmother is starting a company tomorrow morning, you may be able to build some unbelievably fantastic, gigantic companies in the next decade.

Alan:                      Again, we’re looking for those entrepreneurs who want to do that, and more important … Also, well actually, no less importantly, we’re looking to invest in the funds that want to do that.

Evan:                     Sounds very optimistic. Thank you, both. I have many more questions, but time is up. In two sentences, where do you see Vintage over the next 5, 10 years in this?

Alan:                      Probably more of the same. The reason I mentioned, as I mentioned before, this is an industry where you got to look in 20 year horizons. We’ve been, fortunately, growing well, including, by the way, in 2008 and ’09 when things were challenging, our investors stood behind us and we raised a new fund, the funds, for example, in 2009 when most people weren’t able to raise.

Alan:                      Proud of the team that we were able to do that, and also honored by the trust the investors showed us in doing that. We, as I say, as I keep saying, as I’ve said repeatedly in this conversation, I think over the next 5, 10 years it’ll be some winter storm. That’s going to be our opportunity to really double down, triple down on core relationships.

Alan:                      The idea is really to continue to build this out. We are today, active as a fund-to-fund, secondary and late stage co-investor in Israel and Europe. We’re mostly fund-to-funds in the U.S. At some point, probably we’ll do more and more secondary stuff in the U.S. We’re starting already.

Alan:                      I expect, maybe at some point when everybody heads for the hills, there’s going to be also some co-investment opportunities in the U.S. as well. It’s going to be a lot of the same, maybe some further international expansion.

Alan:                      Also, for me, when I look at Vintage, and this has been a driving point for me. Fortunately, there’s two of us in the partner level in their 50s, there’s two in the 40s and there’s two 30, maybe just turned 40. We want to build this business as a long-term business.

Alan:                      One of the things that I’m particularly proud of is we’ve got a phenomenal group of people who give me great comfort that maybe in, I don’t know, 10 or 15 years when it will be more challenging for me …

Abe:                      30, 30 years.

Alan:                      I’m 57.

Evan:                     Not so quick.

Alan:                      57, so like when it will be, Vintage is going to be, at that point, in great hands. One of the things I’ve learned about succession from the guys who did it well is it’s something you don’t start because the investors tell you to do it, and you don’t start the day before. It’s something you start 10, 12 years before. Fortunately, if I look at the team, I’m proud every day.

Evan:                     Thank you very, very much, Alan and Abe.

Alan:                      Thank you.

Abe:                      Thank you, Evan.




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