Fund performance: Distributions from Union Square and Spark spiked last year

Distributions from Union Square Ventures’ debut 2004 fund and Spark Capital’s initial 2005 fund spiked last year, perhaps not surprisingly, according to a recent Washington State Investment Board portfolio report.

Both firms were investors in Tumblr, which Yahoo acquired last summer, and both put money in Twitter, which went public after the cutoff for the portfolio report and suggests more distributions are on the way.

Pension manager Washington State similarly benefited last year from performance gains at New Enterprise Associates, Canaan Partners and Insight Venture Partners, lifting overall portfolio results, according to a report on its Pathway and Invesco portfolios updating returns to September 2013.

The Pathway and Invesco portfolios hold 12 now maturing venture funds with vintages of 2003 to 2005. Together they have delivered strong results, with 10 of the funds sporting IRRs in positive territory and only two stuck in the red.

The portfolios include holdings in top name firms Union Square and Spark as well as Battery Ventures, Technology Crossover Ventures and Essex Woodlands Health Ventures.

Last year was an upbeat period for performance. Returns at nine of the funds advanced, several of them impressively. New Enterprise Associates 11, a 2004 vintage fund, climbed to an IRR of 14.87% from 8.37% in June 2012. Canaan VII, a 2005 vintage fund, had an IRR of 18.04% as of September.

Another fund showing improvement was Insight Venture Partners V Coinvestment 2005, which saw its IRR advance to 26.06%.

Still the hands-down leader for the three vintage years was Union Square Ventures 2004. The fund’s 65.72% IRR slipped slightly, but distributions jumped to $35.3 million from $18.7 million in June 2012.

Spark Capital’s 2005 fund almost doubled its distributions as well. Washington State received a total of $14.4 million in distributions as of September, up from $7.3 million in June 2012.

At the bottom of the portfolios are Three Arch Partners IV, with an IRR of -1.45%, and El Dorado Ventures VII, with an IRR of -5.3%.

The accompanying table lists the funds for the three vintage years with their commitments, distributions and IRRs.