Letters and Opinion

Future Fund's start is not so slow

January 9, 2010

In response to your Dec. 21 article labeling the Indiana Future Fund as “off to slow start,” I believe some additional historical perspective is warranted. Our firm, Spring Mill Venture Partners, a recipient of funding from the IFF, has invested in 10 seed and early-stage companies. Of those, 70 percent are Indiana-based companies.

The premise of the IFF, launched in 2004, was to:

• foster the creation and growth of life sciences companies in Indiana,

• encourage the growth of a vibrant Indiana-based venture capital community, and

• facilitate public and private partnerships within the state.

Venture capital as an engine for economic growth has no equal. Although it remains a relatively small asset class, in 2008 venture capital-backed companies employed more than 12 million people and generated nearly $3 trillion in revenue. Respectfully, these figures accounted for 11 percent of private-sector employment and represented the equivalent of 21 percent of U.S. gross domestic product during that same year (NVCA Venture Impact Study, 2009).

The median age of a venture-backed company at the time of its initial public offering has increased from 4.5 years in 1998 to 9.6 years as of year-end 2008. The median company age at the time of a mergers and acquisitions exit has increased to 6.5 years over the same time frame.

Based on a typical five-year investment cycle, the median age of our portfolio companies is less than 4 years old, shorter than the typical exit horizon for an early-stage investment. In fact, it would be a surprise if seed and early-stage investments were creating significant exits at this point.

In summary, I believe your portrayal deserves further explanation in order to provide a complete picture of the scenario. I hope I have provided more of that for your readers.

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David Mann

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