Who Gets Better Returns, Professional VCs or Angel Investors?

Early stage venture capitalist John Frankel (@john_frankel) has compiled some very rich data on the returns of early stage and venture investing.  Some key points:

  • Venture capital funds, in aggregate, managed an anemic 4.4% end-to-end pooled return over the last 10 years
  • As one Kauffman Foundation report sums it up, “since 1997, less cash has been returned to investors than has been invested in VC.”
  •  A typical firm now makes two-thirds of its revenue from annual management fees rather than performance-based carried interest.  The larger the fund, the more likely it is that income is tied to fund size rather than performance. The incentive becomes raising larger funds rather than generating stronger returns.
  • Angel groups, on the other hand, have done exceptionally well.  Every large angel return study has mean angel IRRs ranging from 18 percent to 38 percent.  Amongst angels, top performers conduct more due diligence before investing and are subsequently more actively involved with ventures.

You can see the detailed charts of returns here.