In 2009, a 23-year-old analyst at Insight Partners walked out of the private equity and venture capital firm’s New York headquarters for the last time—with heaps of proprietary data in tow. The junior deal maker had downloaded information from Insight’s database of private company information dating back to its 1995 founding, hoping it would give him an edge at his next gig as an analyst at Tiger Global Management, according to three people familiar with the incident.
Although the heist was an immediate failure—Tiger management quickly found out about it and fired their new analyst—the episode became lore at Insight. Current and former employees cite it as evidence of the power of Insight’s 25-year-old database, the vast logs its partners use to find pre-IPO investments in technology companies such as Twitter, Alibaba, Shopify and JD.com. These and other less well-known deals have underpinned its 20% average returns, after fees, since its founding.
That payout has convinced limited partners to back Insight’s increasingly large funds—even while the firm has kept such a low profile that entrepreneurs have regularly confused it with the similarly named firms Index Ventures and IVP, previously known as Institutional Venture Partners.