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BGV General Partner Eric Buatois recently participated in the Venture Capitalist Confidence Index survey for Q4 2017.  From the report:

the pace of technology innovation and its impact on the digital transformation of the enterprise accelerates, all industry sectors will have to adapt and absorb these changes. […] Some great companies are currently being created that will become strong emerging leaders. The valuations at the seed and series A level are quite stable in the B to B space. (However,) late stage investing demands very strong financial valuation discipline to anticipate the public market correction to come.”

 

The Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Confidence IndexTM for the fourth quarter of 2017, based on a December 2017 survey of 29 San Francisco Bay Area venture capitalists, registered 3.66 on a 5-point scale (with 5 indicating high confidence and 1 indicating low confidence). This quarterly survey and research report provides unique quantitative and qualitative trend data and analysis on the high-growth entrepreneurial environment in the Bay Area.  Mark Cannice, department chair and professor of entrepreneurship and innovation with the USF School of Management, authors the research study each quarter, surveying venture capitalists from more than 25 Silicon Valley firms.


More on Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Confidence Index here.

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Benhamou Global Ventures Founder and General Partner Eric Benhamou will speak at the BPI France Capital Invest 2018 conference on February 8th in Paris.




The event will be held at la Maison de la Mutualité starting at 2:30pm.  Eric will be joined by Bernard Liautaud, Managing Director of Balderton Capital, and Nicolas Dufourcq, General Director of BPI France, for the last panel session, “L’attractivité française: illustration d’une réalité” before the closing.

Register for the event here.
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Acquisition Expands KPMG’s Enterprise Security Capabilities and Helps Firm to Meet Emerging Digital Consumer Identity Demand

January 3, 2018, New York, USA


 

KPMG LLP has agreed to acquire the Identity and Access Management business of Silicon Valley-based Cyberinc, which provides cyber security solutions globally.  Cyberinc, the largest independent identity and access management (IAM) technology provider in the world, will enhance KPMG’s existing capabilities as a leader in information security consulting services* and expand the firm’s ability to provide clients with emerging and more agile IAM solutions. The transaction also bolsters KPMG’s talent and resources in the rapidly growing area of digital consumer identity and privileged user management, which are evolving security-focused capabilities to enhance important elements of customer-engagement.

“Cyber security remains a top risk to organizations as threats grow in scale and cyber criminals develop new ways to access protected information,” said Lynne Doughtie, U.S. Chairman and CEO of KPMG LLP. “KPMG’s identity and access management solutions team can assist clients, across all industries, protect their information and enable their digital strategies and growth plans.”

Cyberinc’s IAM business is a 190-person global team with significant presence in the U.S., India, Australia, and the U.K., and extensive experience providing advisory, strategy, implementation services, and managed services for organizations that need to transform their enterprise or consumer identity capabilities.

“Over the last decade, Cyberinc’s IAM business has risen to industry leadership position on the strength of some of the largest IAM deployments globally, investments in IP and an array of premium partnerships. I am very pleased that Cyberinc’s truly world class team will continue this journey with KPMG,” said Samir Shah, CEO, Cyberinc. “Cyber threats continue to accelerate and remain a top business risk. This transaction will allow us to sharply focus on Isla – our industry leading Malware Isolation Platform.”

KPMG’s strong position with existing information security alliance partners Oracle and Sailpoint, along with KPMG’s recently announced alliance with Ping Identity, will be further enhanced by the transaction with Cyberinc to better enable information protection for large enterprises while pursuing new digital interactions and business transformations.

“As organizations innovate and transform their back, middle and front offices, identity and access management solutions that effectively bridge the gap between risk mitigation and customer experience are key to driving sustainable growth,” said Tony Buffomante, U.S. Leader of KPMG’s Cyber Security Services practice. “The addition of the Cyberinc team and capabilities is yet another example of how KPMG is investing in cyber security and helping clients succeed on their digital journey.”

Cyberinc is a subsidiary of Aurionpro Solutions Limited – a global technology product and solution provider, headquartered in Mumbai, India and San Ramon, California. The Cyberinc transaction is KPMG’s second acquisition in this area, following the October 2014 acquisition of certain assets of Qubera Solutions, a privately-held Redwood City, C.A. – based cyber security firm that provides IAM services.

*according to The Forrester WaveTM, Information Security Consulting Services, Q3 2017

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Source: https://cyberinc.com/news/kpmg-to-acquire-global-iam-business-of-cyberinc/

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BGV General Partner Eric Buatois will serve as a panelist at the French Tech Hub CES 2018.  The event will be held in Las Vegas from January 10th to the 12th.

Eric will participate in the workshop ‘How to raise funding to accelerate your U.S. expansion?’ on January 11th from 9am to 10am.  Panelists include:

  • Moderator: Sylvia Gallusser, Go-to-market & Fundraising Advisor, French Tech Hub
  • Denis Barrier, Co-founder & CEO, Cathay Innovation
  • Eric Buatois, General Partner, Benhamou Global Ventures
  • Guillaume de La Tour, Founder & CEO, Bluefox.io
  • Vincent Diallo, Venture Capital Investor, Bleu Capital
  • Yvan-Michel Ehkirch, Partner, Cap Decisif
  • Julien Signes. Founder & CEO, Envivio


Registration for CES can be found here.
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The University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering recently featured BGV Principal Yashwanth ‘Yash’ Hemaraj as a distinguished alum in an interview:



UMD Degree: M.S. ’07, Electrical and Computer Engineering 

Yashwanth (Yash) Hemaraj is a venture capital investor at Benhamou Global Ventures. Prior to BGV, Yash was one of the first engineers and product manager at SpiderCloud Wireless, a venture-backed bay area startup building indoor wireless systems. At BGV, his focus areas are technologies that drive the digital transformation of enterprises – ranging from cloud technologies, customer centric applications, cyber security, industrial IoT, to blockchain and advanced analytics solutions. His investments include companies such as Totango, 6d bytes and OneMob. He regularly advises entrepreneurs on multiple aspects of startups, including fundraising, go-to market strategy and product development and is a mentor at various accelerators. He graduated with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, and MS in Electrical Engineering from University of Maryland.

Please describe a typical day or week for you as a Venture Capital Investor for Benhamou Global Ventures
As an early stage investor, we typically spend time in 4 high level areas – deal sourcing, due diligence on high priority deals, working with portfolio companies and working on the firm’s operations. In a typical week, I spend time across all these areas.

A typical week will consist of meeting about 8-10 companies on average. Once we are past the initial screening, we dig into the company details – financials, customer calls, competition, bottom-up market analysis etc. This due diligence is done only for the high-priority deals and can last several weeks. Typically, we invest in about 1-2% of the deals that we see. So, this is a very time intensive process.

Making an investment is actually the easier part in venture. Creating enough value post-investment is tough. At BGV, we approach this as a team. All BGV partners come with deep operational backgrounds, having built companies. We are continuously engaged with our portfolio companies, helping the founding teams with the challenges they are facing – sometimes it could be planning for the next round of financing, or it could be around scaling up the team or a marketing related exercise.

Running a VC firm typically involves a lot of backend operations – raising money, reporting our financials to our LPs (our investors), accounting and audits, marketing and positioning our firm. These activities consume a fair amount of time as well.

In addition to these activities, we need to spend enough time outside the office meeting with entrepreneurs, other investors and industry experts. This usually consumes most evenings. In between all this, we also spend time on understanding new technological advancements, reviewing analyst opinions, and refining our investment themes.

What was your career path that led you to your current position?
It had its roots in UMD. During my M.S. at the A. James Clark School of Engineering, I applied for a job posting made by another UMD Alum for an internship at Flarion Technologies (a NJ based startup acquired by Qualcomm.) That internship put me in the company of the people that were involved in building the team at SpiderCloud Wireless. The same alum who mentored me during my internship hired me as one of the first engineers at SpiderCloud. Being in a startup right from the early days gave me the understanding of how companies are built from the ground up. It really shaped the way I think about building teams, markets and the process of scaling up, and the challenges that come with each stage. It was truly an amazing time, we built some pretty impressive technology along the way.

After spending time in engineering and product management roles at SpiderCloud, I decided to get my MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. I wanted to continue to help build companies and found the role as a VC to be one where I can continue to do so across multiple startups. During my MBA, I interned with BGV and found that the team at BGV had deep operational as well as investment experience to guide me along this path. So, I joined BGV as an investor after graduation, where I have had the privilege of working with some amazing founders building innovative technologies in the enterprise space.

Why did you choose the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the A. James Clark School of Maryland?
I did my undergrad in India in Electronics and Communication, where I did a lot of work on image and speech processing. I wanted to augment that with graduate studies in signal processing. One of the key reasons for choosing the MS program at the Clark School was the research of Professors such as Prof. Rama Chellappa, who have been working on technologies such as computer vision.
I spoke to alums from the department, who had very good things to say about the program and the mentorship they received at the school. At that time, to be honest paying out-of-state tuition was a big concern for me. The students who I spoke with gave me confidence that we can find research positions as graduate students to cover our tuition expenses. I took the leap.

How did your education in ECE at UMD help to advance you in your career?
The school was instrumental in developing my core skills across not just the theoretical aspects of signal processing and wireless communication, but also practical aspects around hardware software co-design. My research assistantship at the joint program between the UMM school and the ECE department gave me additional practical experience in designing systems. These experiences were critical in my growth at SpiderCloud, where we architected new paradigm of indoor wireless communication.
To be honest, at the end of the day, your success is highly correlated with the people you build good relationships with. I was lucky to have met with a great group of UMD alums, who have been with me across multiple stages of my career.


What are the benefits of attending UMD?
I think the location of UMD is underappreciated. The school is surrounded by great companies, government research organizations and is well-connected to Washington DC. The school has a long history of research advancements that few other schools in the country can match. I am equally excited about the new initiatives the school is undertaking around innovation and entrepreneurship. I think with greater collaboration between the different departments, such as computer science, ECE, aeronautical, business, we have an opportunity to foster innovation at a faster pace.


What was your favorite memory of your time at UMD?
My favorite memory was when our research group at Accelign won the Annual Startup competition at UMD. Our research group, led by Prof. Raj Shekar, was working on a hardware-software component that accelerated image registration to fuse CT Scans with MRI scans to aid better diagnosis of cancer. We presented this technology at the annual competition and were able to beat several other great companies to win the $50K prize.


What advice do you have for current ECE Terps?
My advice to Terps is to take adequate risks in their professional careers as they graduate from school. This is the time where students can experiment by starting new businesses, trying out new concepts and exploring. Only through exploration do you learn. These experiences will definitely help you later down the lane.
I also advise them to make use of internships with the companies around DC, both during the school year and summers. This will provide them practical experience in real-life settings that will make classroom learning more meaningful. I am sure the school runs a lot of internship programs to facilitate this.
Finally, I advise students while at school to spend a lot of time building great relationships with fellow students and faculty. This is a long-term investment in you and your network.

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Source: http://ece.umd.edu/news/news_story.php?id=11026

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BGV recently moderated a panel hosted by Marcus Evans on the challenges faced by LPs in constructing an alternative asset portfolio around the Venture Capital asset class.  The panel members included Matt Stepan with CFM, a financial advisory firm with $11Bn AUM, and Freeman Wood with Mercer Sentinel, a leading investment advisory consulting firm.  The full webinar can be accessed at:

https://vimeo.com/marcusevans/review/233650620/3d1129d2c3.


This entry is the second and final part of the blog focusing on the topic of sustaining returns in the Venture Capital asset class over time.

 

Context & Key Trends


One of the myths about Private Equity is that private equity does well in good markets and does worse in bad markets. The data below shows that private equity performance has outperformed public markets in both good and bad markets.

     











 




As we look into the venture capital asset class, we find a similar story.  Since the recovery from early 1999-2000s the venture capital asset class has outperformed the S&P 500, with a constant increase in IRR and multiples across recent vintages (see charts below).



                    



The chart below from Cambridge compares gains in their cohort of top 100 investments. They concluded that “success comes in all sizes”, meaning the group of top performers includes both large and small funds – ranging from small funds- less than 250M, to mid-size funds, and to larger funds – funds more than 750M. In recent years, funds of less than $250M have accounted for a good portion of value creation.

 



Cambridge has also looked into the performance of top quartile US venture capital funds by vintage years across new funds, developing funds (funds that are in their 3rd or 4th fund), and well-established funds. The cohort of top quartile venture funds contains a good mix of new, developing, and well-established funds.




This data runs contrary to the common notion that only well-established billion dollar funds provide good returns to investors. As investors look to deploy into this asset class, there is an argument to be made in having a basket of investments across big and large, new and established funds.  

 

Q&A


The topic we are going to discuss is the best practices our panelists and their clients have used to sustain returns in the venture asset class after they have made the manager selection decision.  

  1. Matt, at CFM what has been your experience with key variables that led to sustaining performance over time with your VC fund investments?
  2. We have seen a few patterns that contribute to persistence of returns over time. These include: a) Relatively modest fund size – Smaller funds focused on a fewer number of portfolio companies with a thoughtful approach to how they deploy their capital.  Larger funds tend to become less nimble.  It is important to be nimble in the VC world because the startups are often going at a sprint and firms need to be able to react to that while being thoughtful; b) We have also seen consistent success from funds where the teams are focused within markets or sectors where they have a deep understanding of the trends transforming them.  Our prototypical funds are ones with 3 GP’s, a team size of 10-15 people, a fund size greater than $100M but sub $300M with a focus on 3-4 sectors that the team knows well; c) From a portfolio construction basis, funds that have a mix of companies that are both solutions oriented and disruptive do well.  Solution oriented portfolio companies with a good operational track record can often get to good M&A exits on an all cash basis.  We have found that a balanced portfolio between disruptive IPO track startups and solutions oriented startups leads to a persistence of returns over time; d) Finally we believe that the personal character of the VC’s is also a determinant.  Often times when companies begin not to perform to expectations, sometimes VCs step away too early instead of taking corrective action.  While it makes sense to spend time with winners, we also believe that fund managers should be thoughtful in sticking with what they have invested in by taking corrective action instead of settling for a suboptimal outcome.

 

  1. Freeman, what are some of the best practices around risk control to protect the sustainability of returns over time that you suggest to your clients when they invest in Venture Capital?
  2. We have a strong belief that establishing transparency is important – in what is being invested in by the managers as well as how those investments are performing over time. Sometimes our clients fall into the trap of a “set it and forget it” mind set because they are dealing with committed capital but we believe that being proactively involved is critical after making the investment allocation.  We advise our clients to perform on-site diligence as frequently as they are comfortable (at least once every 12 or 18 months) to see how the manager is controlling their risks and how the portfolio is performing.

 

  1. Matt, we have seen cases where investors have used various techniques to get to know the manager team using direct or co-investments. Can you comment on how CFM has scaled its venture fund relationship? Have you done direct and co-investments?
  2. We have had the opportunity to do both and have found that co-investments that are follow on investments (Series B and C) work better for us. These opportunities give us the time to get to know the company, the management team and track progress over time before making a co-investment decision.  We have led a few direct investments but we feel that this does not align as well with our expertise and that VC firms are better suited to make such investments.  Finally, we want to be viewed as a partner by VC firms and not as competitors.  For all these reasons we have found co-investments to work better for us than direct investments.

 

  1. Freeman, what is the best way for your clients to get to know a GP at a fund?
  2. It is a combination of upfront diligence before making the investment decision and post investment relationship building. Often a combination of meeting the manager, understanding their expertise/edge, ensuring that there is an alignment of incentives and getting to know the supporting teams, the key processes (beyond the GPs).

 

  1. What has been you experience with trying time investments in the venture capital asset class.
  2. CFM – While industry data over time reveals that vintage year does play a role in investment performance, we have found that a sustained effort over the long term (ten years or more) results in consistent performance. If this is done well then distributions from earlier years end up funding current and future capital commitments.  We have found the optimal strategy is to be patient, invest in the asset class for the long term and apply the best practices that have been discussed today to deliver good returns.  VC investment is a marathon even though at times the VC markets may feel like a sprint but applying a consistent framework can lead to a persistence of returns.  It is important not to get caught in the day-to-day sprint and stay focused on the long term.
  3. Mercer – I agree, timing is a double-edged sword – do it well and it can be lucrative, do it poorly and it can be very painful. Having a commitment and a process for an asset class for the long term enables LPs to smooth out timing differences and get to know the fund managers well.  This is important.  We have found that LPs who invest in different asset classes some times uncover best practices that can be leveraged to help their fund managers improve their performance.  These types of long-term relationships are a win-win for both LPs and fund managers.  
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BGV recently moderated a panel hosted by Marcus Evans on the challenges faced by LPs in constructing an alternative asset portfolio around the Venture Capital asset class.  The panel members included Matt Stepan with CFM, a financial advisory firm with $11Bn AUM, and Freeman Wood with Mercer Sentinel, a leading investment advisory consulting firm.  The full webinar can be accessed at: https://vimeo.com/marcusevans/review/233650620/3d1129d2c3.  This is the first in a two-part blog summarizing the webinar content focusing on the best practices around manager selection in the Venture Capital asset class.

 

Context & Key Trends

Since the 2008 financial downtown, there has been a steady increase in LPs committing higher allocations to alternative assets. In fact, this practice has accelerated since 2016 and is expected to continue to do so over the next 12 months.  In a recent survey by Preqin, almost 65% of the respondents said they expect to deploy more capital in the next 12 months, compared to the past 12 months (see chart below).

 

Global family offices with an estimated $4T are allocating 50% to the alternative asset class.  Within the alternative asset category, private equity (including venture, buyout and growth capital) and private debt have been the biggest benefactors of the shift in allocations.

 

Despite the recent run up in public markets, this sector is becoming structurally less attractive to LPs.  These LPs are responding by raising their allocation to private markets.  Some rotate out of hedge funds into multi-asset funds.  Even Sovereign wealth funds, and pension funds as well, which comprise 5-6% of the allocation to private equity, are expected to go to 10-11% allocation. Within the alternative asset classes, investor appetite for venture capital has significantly increased over the past 12 months, ranging from Family Offices, to Sovereign wealth funds, to Endowments and Foundations. This data is fairly consistent across all geographies.

 

 

Challenges – Manager Selection

While growth in the number of funds has increased- assets under managements and even distributions have increased- this development presents a unique set of challenges. In order to increase their allocation to alternatives, investors must find the right managers and investment strategies to put that capital to work.

 

There is a wide dispersion in the returns from the private equity asset class, heavily dependent on the fund managers.  We believe that manager selection significantly influences the net returns.



Furthermore, a stark difference exists between top quartile vs. bottom quartile managers in terms of fund performance – measured in net IRR. The chart below shows that the net IRR range over a 10-year horizon is between 16-17%. The median is about 6-8%. However, when you look at the bottom quartile performance, difference is more distinct.


Thus, the challenge for institutional investors is to find top quartile fund managers. There is no guarantee that one can generally invest in this asset class and get the type of the returns they target.

 

Q&A

In our discussion, the first topic we are going to discuss is the best practices our panelists and their clients have used to go about manager selection successfully.

 

  1. Matt, from a CFM perspective, what are the top two to three criteria that you have used successfully to select high performing managers?
  2. We tend to look at three criteria to evaluate and identify top quartile fund managers. These include: a) Top quality leadership – GP’s at the firm; b) A differentiated approach to investing in the markets they focus on; c) Early stage focus – to enable us to take advantage of the equity valuation increase that comes from investing in innovative companies at this stage.

 

  1. Freeman, what do you recommend to your clients around due diligence best practices to evaluate fund managers?
  2. We tend to advise our clients to diligence the fund’s governance and infrastructure to identify and make investments and also on how they manage the investments over time. Our emphasis is on ensuring there are sound, robust and repeatable processes to manage investments over time and not just identify investments.  We also tend to look for transparency in the processes.

 

  1. Matt, you see a high number of pitches from fund managers, how do you diligence the quality of the team?
  2. We tend to look for specific characteristics in the individual GP’s including: a) Strong operating and investment backgrounds; b) Their ability to relate well to an entrepreneur – the journey that an entrepreneur takes from startup to exit is a unique and difficult one to navigate.; b) A track record of consistent success and their ability add value beyond the capital be it as a coach, a trusted advisor and/or a productive board member. At the team level, we look for teams that have worked together successfully before – this ensures that they have worked out how they make decisions and work as a team.  

 

  1. Freeman, could you give us a few examples of robust repeatable processes that you look for when evaluating fund managers?
  2. We look for teams with demonstrated expertise in the areas of investment and operational focus. For example, we like to see a clear segregation of responsibilities and processes in areas such as making investments (i.e. investment committee etc.), finance/back office operations, management of portfolio companies and portfolio exit/dissolution.  We like to see that processes are well documented and have been implemented consistently over time.

 

In our next blog, we will summarize the best practices around sustaining returns over time once LPs have made the manager selection for investment in the VC asset class. 

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BGV General Partner Eric Buatois will serve on the panel “Crossing Border to Create World Leader” at the SuperVenture conference, part of the SuperReturn International series, on February 27, 2018 in Berlin.

Panelists will address the following questions:

  • Do startups need to make the jump to Silicon Valley early on to become a global leader?
  • At what point should companies access other growth markets such as China, India and Southeast Asia?

Eric Buatois will be joined by Dick Kramlich (New Enterprise Associates), Yinglan Tan (INSIGNIA Venture Partners), and Sudhir Sethi (IDG Ventures India), with moderator Martin Haemmig (CeTIM, GLORAD).  The panel is scheduled for the second day of the event, February 27th, from 11:10 to noon at the Hotel Palace Berlin.

Registration and more information about SuperVenture located here.
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BGV Founder Eric Benhamou will speak at the SuperReturn US West conference in San Francisco, February 12-14 2018. Panels hosted are “Raise and repeat: common challenges of raising the second and third fund” (February 12th, 2:15pm)  and “Succession planning in private equity” (February 14th, 12pm). Eric Benhamou will also discuss opportunity funds at SuperReturn West’s “Opportunity funds in the spotlight” fireside chat (February 13th, 3:45pm). Register to attend SuperReturn US West 2018 to hear Eric Benhamou and other industry leaders share their insights. Event details located here.
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