500 Startups, the startup accelerator co-founded by entrepreneur-turned-investor Dave McClure, upended an industry precedent when it revealed detailed return data of the three funds the firm has raised since 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
Return data is a core business secret carefully kept at many venture capital firms, but McClure’ firm decided to make its earning results public simply because they are good, he told the newspaper. Or perhaps, it’s a marketing ploy to attract new limited partners to the fund, the reporter speculates.
500 Startups’ latest fund, a $85 million Fund III, has achieved an internal rate of return of 20.3 percent as of the end of 2015, significantly outperforming industry peers, according to data from investment advisor Cambridge Associates.
The accelerator is now raising its fourth fund, aiming at $150 million to $200 million and has already raised $50 million, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
500 Startups differs from its peers in more ways than just financial transparency. Unlike traditional firms that believe in concentrating capital and human resources in a handful of potential high-return companies, McClure believes that venture capital firms can operate at a larger scale. The underlying logic is a that a small number of massive exits, like IPOs, can return a large portfolio at a relatively low risk. “If I have 250 companies, I can see five (big exits),” he said to the Wall Street Journal.
500 Startups currently invests in 1,500 companies in 60 countries. About one-third of the companies are located outside the United States. The strong focus on international markets is to differentiate itself from similar-scale competitors like Y Combinator, McClure said at Startupfest In Montreal last week.