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Why VCs are the New Investment Bankers

On Friday, Jessica wrote about how special purpose vehicles, SPVs, are good for VCs and for companies looking to maximize valuations.

I think there’s another interesting angle that’s been coming up in discussions of late: how technology, coupled with the intersection of Sarbanes-Oxley and the JOBS Act, is turning VCs shopping SPVs into investment bankers.

As the son of a 30-year veteran TMT banker, and as someone who has helped put together a few SPVs, this is a pretty interesting and personal realization for me.

In the IPO heyday of the 1980s and 1990s, investment bankers marketed IPOs of early-to-growth stage companies to accredited investors to raise tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Now VCs, via SPVs are doing exactly the same thing—at a similar scale and with similar dynamics.

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When you adjust for the risk associated with the fact SPVs target earlier-stage companies, the actual economics of IPOs versus SPVs are pretty similar.