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Fund performance: Gains in venture performance lift University of California portfolio

A maturing slice of the University of California’s venture portfolio is benefiting from the venture industry’s performance gains of the past year.

The majority of the 20 funds the university holds with vintages of 2003 to 2006 advanced smartly in 2013 and 17 now have positive IRRs. Only three don’t. That’s noticeably a better performance than in 2012.

Several of the funds recorded substantial gains, including those from The Column Group, GGV Capital, Canaan Partners and BlueRun Ventures, according to the most recent portfolio report from the university’s Board of Regents. Also improving were funds from Domain Associates and DCM.

Through September of last year, 1-year venture returns rose industry wide to 15.1 percent, according to Cambridge Associates. One-year performance was 7.2 percent at the end of 2012. The gains reflect both a better economic environment and a more vibrant IPO market.

And they translated into improving IRRs at the university. A total of 15 of the funds from the four vintage years saw their IRRs rise during the nine months ended September 2013, the latest period for which data is available. Most are reaching the point in the lifespan where their current IRRs are indicative of final performance.

Advancing the most was The Column Group’s 2005 fund, which ended September with an IRR of 12.2 percent, up from 0 at the end of 2012. GGV’s Granite Global Ventures III also rose nicely to an IRR of 17.5 percent and the 2005 Canaan Equity Partners VII climbed to 18.3 percent.

BlueRun Ventures, from 2005, saw its IRR advance to 6.3 percent.

Despite the gains, the top two funds in the portfolio are Insight Venture Partners V and V Coinvestment Fund, which have IRRs of 20.8 percent and 26.3 percent, respectively.

Funds needing more work include Claremont Creek Ventures, with an IRR of -15 percent, and Palomar Ventures III, with an IRR of -7.6 percent.

The accompanying table shows 20 funds with their investment multiples and IRRs from September 2013 and December 2012.