Has Persistence Persisted in Private Equity? Evidence from Buyout and Venture Capital Funds.
Robert S. Harris, Tim Jenkinson, Steven N. Kaplan, Rüdiger Stucke
The conventional wisdom for investors in private equity funds is to invest in partnerships that have performed well in the past. This is based on the belief that performance in private equity persists across funds of the same partnership. We present new evidence on the persistence of U.S. private equity (buyout and venture capital) funds using a research-quality dataset from Burgiss, sourced from over 200 institutional investors. Relying on detailed cash-flow data for funds, we study the persistence of buyout and venture capital fund performance of the same general partners across different funds.
We pay particular attention to persistence pre- and post-2000. Previous research, studying largely pre-2000 data, has found strong persistence for both buyout and venture capital firms. We confirm the previous findings on persistence in pre-2000 funds. There is persistence for buyout funds and, particularly, for venture funds. Post-2000, we find little evidence of persistence for buyout funds, except at the lower end of the performance distribution. When funds are sorted by the quartile of performance of their previous funds, performance of the current fund is statistically indistinguishable regardless of quartile. Performance for partnerships in all previous fund quartiles exceeds those of public markets as measured by the S&P 500. Regression results confirm the absence of persistence post-2000 except for funds in the lower end of the performance distribution. Post-2000, we find that performance in venture capital funds remains as persistent as pre-2000. Partnerships whose previous venture capital funds are below the median for their vintage year subsequently tend to be below median and have returns below those of the public markets (S&P 500). Partnerships in the top two quartiles tend to stay above the median and their returns exceed those of the public markets.