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Category Archives: Finance

Exploring Evergreen Funds with a VC Investor Who Raised One

This post was written by Alex Graham, Finance Expert for Toptal.

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

What Are Open-ended and Evergreen Funds?
How Are These Funds Different from “Traditional” Funds?
What Is Some Advice from Someone Who Has Raised and Operated an Open-ended VC Fund?

 

Earlier in 2018, through Toptal, I worked with Rodrigo Sanchez Servitje from B37 Ventures on a project related to its open-ended VC fund. Such funds are still a relatively unknown and misunderstood type of funding vehicle, with a dearth of “in the trenches” information out there about how they operate. With this article, I am looking to correct that.

As someone who has raised and operated an open-ended VC fund, throughout the piece, I will refer to Rodrigo for invaluable insight regarding B37 Ventures’ experiences.

What Are Open-ended and Evergreen Funds?

In venture capital fundraising, as the adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For years, funds have toed this line by raising capital through closed-ended vehicles. This refers to a management company raising a set amount from external investors via a limited partnership legal structure for a fixed number of years (typically ten). After this process, the doors close, money is put to work and, at the end date, the fund is wound up and repaid.

Despite investing in disruptive and innovative industries, the landscape of VC fund structures has largely remained unchanged.

The most obvious alternative would be the inverse of a closed-ended fund: an open-ended one. In these such funds, capital is invested directly into an LLC on an ongoing basis with no termination date. It is essentially investing preferred equity into a company. Investors buy units of a fund with a yield attached (the hurdle rate) and they can buy more, or sell, whenever they wish.

This type of fund is also liberally referred to as a permanent capital vehicle or evergreen fund. The ethos between the names is largely the same, in that it’s referring to structures with no end date or fixed capital quotas. A core distinction is that an evergreen fund can recycle returned capital while open-ended funds (like B37 Ventures) distribute to investors. Read more of this post

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Estimating WACC for Private Company Valuation: A Tutorial

This post was written by David Turney, Finance Expert for Toptal.

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

Common Roadblocks in Estimating Private Company Discount Rates and How to Overcome Them
Discount Rate Estimation of a Privately-Held Company – Quick Example
Why Would You Need a Discount Rate for Private Company Valuation?

Introduction

Nowadays, an increasing number of companies are opting to stay private for longer, bypassing regulations and public stakeholders. While the total number of US companies continues to grow, the number of those traded on stock exchanges has fallen 45% since peaking 20 years ago. As reported by The Economist in 2017, the number of publicly listed companies was 3,671, down from 7,322 in 1996. Thus, private company valuation has risen to the forefront, especially since it is required for anything from potential acquisitions to corporate restructuring and financial reporting. Understanding how discount rates are estimated and their role in financial decisions is important to both private business owners/operators and investors/valuation professionals. Unlike public company valuation, private company valuation often lacks publicly available data. However, both types of valuation have something in common: usage of the discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis, which requires (1) estimation of future cash flows and (2) a discount rate.

This article focuses on best practices for estimating private company discount rates, or the weighted average cost of capital (WACC), drawing on my 12 years of experience performing private company valuations and various editions of Cost of Capital: Applications and Examples. The discussion begins with an overview of the DCF analysis and the WACC, followed by detailed instruction around the components of the WACC. While this article will cover WACC as taught in accounting classes and the CFA program, it will also demonstrate how best to handle challenges encountered in practice. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of classroom rules break down in the real world. And, since variables for estimating WACC are not simply pulled from a database, much analysis and judgment is required. Read more of this post

Advanced Financial Modeling Best Practices: Hacks for Intelligent, Error-Free Modeling

This post was written by Alberto Mihelcic Bazzana, Finance Expert for Toptal.

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

What Are Recommended Strategies for Building Financial Models?
The Top Tricks and Tips for User-Friendly, Smart, Error-Free Modeling
How Can a Finance Expert Help You/Your Company?

Introduction: A Financial Model

Financial models are an indispensable part of every company’s finance toolkit. They are spreadsheets that detail the historical financial data of a given business, forecast its future financial performance, and assess its risks and returns profile. Financial models are typically structured around the three financial statements of accounting—namely: income statementbalance sheet, and cash flow statement. The management of most corporations rely, at least in part, on the details, assumptions, and outputs of financial models, all of which are critical to said companies’ strategic and capital decision-making processes.

This article serves as a step-by-step guide for the novice and intermediate finance professional looking to follow expert best-practices when building financial models. For the advanced financial modeler, this article will also showcase a selection of expert-level tips and hacks to optimize time, output, and modeling effectiveness. Let’s begin. Read more of this post

The Statistical Edge: Enhance Your Metrics with the Actuarial Valuation Method

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Authored by Dani Freidus, Finance Expert for Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

What Is an Actuary?
The Power of the Actuarial Valuation Method
How Can an Actuary Help to Enhance Business Metrics?
How You Can Start to Implement This Now

Beyond Insurance: The Changing Role and Perception of Actuaries

I often hear the question “What is an actuary?” Well, actuaries are unique in that they have a deep understanding of both business and statistics. Traditionally, an actuary’s differentiator was their ability to make financial sense of extremely long-term horizons—typically those associated with the lifespan of human beings. This naturally lent itself to actuaries working in the age-old fields of life insurance and pensions

However, it is not just an actuary’s grasp of the long term which is unique but also their ability to harness a broad range of academic fields and apply them in a business context. To this end, the Actuaries Institute defines actuaries as professionals who: Read more of this post

Considerations for Raising Your Own Private Equity Fund

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Authored by Martin Kemeny, Finance Expert for Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

Raising a private equity fund is a natural progression for ambitious investment managers.
The strategy and operations of a fund should be thoroughly planned in advance.
Be well aware in advance of the securities laws that must be adhered to.

There’s a time in many investment managers’ careers when the next logical step is starting a private investment fund on their own. Either the manager has been working for others as an employee and now wants to go solo, has been investing their own money and wants to raise outside capital, or has been investing with others’ capital on a one-off basis and wants to scale. Whatever the reason, in many cases, the right answer is to set up a fund. A fund can stabilize an investment business and help the manager grow assets under management and create a valuable investment platform.

Whether co-mingled or from a single investor, a fund has many distinct advantages over one-off capital raising: Read more of this post

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