Insight Venture Partners, a New York-based growth fund that’s backed Tumblr and Twitter, just raised $2.57 billion in what is likely one of the largest raises for a venture fund ever.
This is their eighth fund since managing director Jeff Horing co-founded the firm out of business school in 1995. In their most recent fund before this, they had raised $1.5 billion for a fund plus a $500 million co-investment vehicle. To date, they’ve raised a collective $7.6 billion — a large uptake considering that Horing’s first fund was $16 million more than 15 years ago.
The sheer size of the new fund will let Insight write checks that are up to $300 million in size.
To be clear, Insight is a little bit different than other late-stage firms; they behave in some ways like a private equity firm as well with deals like the one to take BMC Software private for $6.9 billion earlier this month.
“We are tech focused and are definitely one of the larger tech funds around,” Horing said. “But we have a hybrid strategy, which includes some buyout and growth equity.”
They’ve also done some more unconventional deals like one to invest in Zumba, the Latin dance fitness program. They also invested in the last round for Tumblr, which sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. Some recent IPOs out of the portfolio include Shutterstock and Solarwinds.
Insight’s big fund comes as the venture industry is splitting into a sea of haves and have-nots. The very best-known firms like Andreessen Horowitz have been able to pull progressively larger rounds. Andreessen Horowitz raised $1.5 billion last year for a single fund while Sequoia raised $1 billion for four funds.
Horing, of course, isn’t daunted by the prospect of returning a more than $2.5 billion fund. He clearly raised that money for a reason.
“This fund is not that much bigger than prior funds. It’s 20 percent or so larger than the last time,” he said. “We can’t make seed investing work, but we’ll selectively do it if it’s really an outlier.”
Insight has more than 50 people with nine general partners. They reach and track about 30,000 companies per year and Horing says that Insight’s value-add beyond sheer capital is in operations.
“We have a lot of ex-McKinsey type consultants and operating executives who have worked in technology in sales and marketing. As opposed to CEO-level board advice, we have people who can work on projects from growth opportunities to sales optimization,” he said.
While about 40 percent of their investments are overseas, the firm has a one-office culture: everyone is based in New York. They do send people out to cover the European and South American markets regularly though.
“Walls are coming down every day for being able to start a company from anywhere,” he said.