Fund performance: San Francisco LP sees impressive start to recent venture funds

Unlike many LPs, especially public pension investors, the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System has remained an active player in the venture asset class.

The pension fund manager has invested in 22 venture capital funds since 2008, committing almost $500 million.

Most of these funds are too young to know how they will perform over time, but several are out of the blocks with a start, including funds from Polaris Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures and New Enterprise Associates, according to a recent portfolio report.

Another three funds—one from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and two funds of funds from Weathergage Venture Capital and Knightsbridge Advisors—are looking smart.

SFERS favors large and mid-sized funds. It has positions in a pair of NEA funds from the period and two large Institutional Venture Partners funds. It bought into Bain Capital Venture Fund 2012 and Canaan Fund IX.

Mid-sized funds include those from Trinity, Mayfield Fund, Menlo Ventures, DCM, Sofinnova Ventures, Polaris and DFJ.

The funds are in formative stages and therefore too early to judge. Those with investment multiples below one just barely outnumber those with multiples above one. Five are too young to even have multiples. In the final six months of 2012, 11 saw performance improvements and four didn’t. Not a bad record given their age.

Several of the funds have noteworthy performance. Polaris Venture Partners VI made real progress from June to December last year and had an investment multiple of 1.58x as of December, according to the SFERS portfolio report. Trinity Ventures X also gained ground and is a close second in the portfolio with an investment multiple of 1.42x.

New Enterprise Associates 13 improved as well and boasted an investment multiple of 1.32x.

The DFJ fund – Draper Fisher Jurvetson Fund X – posted an investment multiple of 1.11x as of December, almost identical to the multiples of the Weathergage and Knightsbridge funds of funds.

The money manager’s latest additions to its portfolio include funds from Trinity, Mayfield, IVP and Knightsbridge. Many hadn’t yet called capital as of December and don’t yet have investment multiples. We will be sure to update you when they do.

In the accompanying table is a list of the funds with their commitments, capital calls and investment multiples from December and June of last year.