It is hardly a revelation to state that the Internet is an astonishing resource. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Internet is the incredible amount of information it makes available at the click of a mouse. Blogging has undoubtedly escalated the amount of information being shared but, far more so, the dissemination of government mandated information via the web has created huge pockets of searchable information that otherwise required pretty significant resources to unearth. And for individuals focused on business, there is an unending amount of interesting information available in filings with the SEC.
One such snippet of information about the Venture Capital industry was recently published in a registration statement for Tumbleweed Communications. Tumbleweed purchased a Sequoia Capital backed company called Corvigo. In connection with that acquisition, Tumbleweed registered about five million shares of stock in the name of Sequoia's various limited partners (known as "LPs") -- specifically, the investors in Sequoia Capital's tenth fund (Sequoia Capital X). While the names of the investors in a venture capital firms are generally not public information, in this instance they are a matter of public record (a complete list of Sequoia's LPs -- give or take a few really small cats and dogs -- can be found on page 14 of the Tumbleweed registration statement). Sequoia has a fairly typical mix of investors: Universities (e.g., Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc.), Foundations (e.g., Carnegie Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, etc.), Fund-of-Funds (e.g., HarbourVest, Knightsbridge, etc.), and high profile individuals (e.g., Andy Bechtolsheim, Wu-Fu Chen, Ed Kozel, Ram Shriram, Jerry Yang, etc.).
Noticeably absent from Sequoia's LPs are public pension funds like CalPERS. Much has been written about the impact of recent lawsuits requiring public pension funds to disclose venture capital firm results under the Freedom of Information Act. We've pointed to Tim Oren's excellent discussion of the topic in the past. As Tim rightfully points out, the result of requiring public pension funds to reveal venture returns is that the best funds will simply not accept public pension funds as investors. The proof would appear to be in Sequoia's LP list -- just one of the many interesting facts to be discovered by scouring the SEC filings.
NB: As PE Week Wire rightly points out, while there are no public pension funds, there is still one public university (University of California). Mea culpa. Nonetheless, I still strongly believe that forced disclosure will result in funds like August and Sequoia avoiding investment from public institutions like calPERS and the University of California. I guess we'll have to wait a few years before we get a registration statement that will answer that question with respect to Sequoia's latest fund.