Tag Archives: venture capital fund

Rule 203(l)-1 – Definition of Venture Capital Fund

SEC Proposed Rule 203(l)-1 under Investment Advisers Act

The SEC has proposed certain new rules as well as amendments to existing rules under the Investment Advisers Act as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act. New Advisers Act Section 203(l) provides an exemption from registration with the SEC to those groups who only advise “venture capital funds,” without regard to the number of such funds advised by the adviser or the size of such funds.  The following proposed new rule 203(l)-1 essentially creates a definition of “venture capital fund” for the purposes of the new section.  The proposed rule also provides a grandfathering provision for certain presently existing venture capital funds.

For the purposes of Section 203(l)-1, the term “venture capital fund” will generally mean any private fund that:

  1. Represents it is a venture capital funds;
  2. Invests in only equity securities of a portfolio company and 80% of such securities must have been acquired directly from the portfolio company;
  3. Has a management company which provides guidance to the portfolio company regarding management and operations of the portfolio levitra mail no prescription company or the fund must control the portfolio company;
  4. Uses less than 15% leverage which may only be short term; and
  5. Provides fund investors with no withdrawal rights except in extraordinary circumstances.

The full proposed rule is reprinted below.


§ 275.203(l)-1 Venture capital fund defined.

(a) Venture capital fund defined. For purposes of section 203(l) of the Act (15 U.S.C. 80b-3(l)), a venture capital fund is any private fund that:

(1) Represents to investors and potential investors that it is a venture capital fund;

(2) Owns solely:

(i) Equity securities issued by one or more qualifying portfolio companies, and at least 80 percent of the equity securities of each qualifying portfolio company owned by the fund was acquired directly from the qualifying portfolio company; and

(ii) Cash and cash equivalents, as defined in § 270.2a51-1(b)(7)(i), and U.S. Treasuries with a remaining maturity of 60 days or less;

(3) With respect to each qualifying portfolio company, either directly or indirectly through each investment adviser not registered under the Act in reliance on section 203(l) thereof:

(i) Has an arrangement whereby the fund or the investment adviser offers to provide, and if accepted, does so provide, significant guidance and counsel concerning the management, operations or business objectives and policies of the qualifying portfolio company; or

(ii) Controls the qualifying portfolio company;

(4) Does not borrow, issue debt obligations, provide guarantees or otherwise incur leverage, in excess of 15 percent of the private fund’s aggregate capital contributions and uncalled committed capital, and any such borrowing, indebtedness, guarantee or leverage is for a non-renewable term of no longer than 120 calendar days;

(5) Only issues securities the terms of which do not provide a holder with any right, except in extraordinary circumstances, to withdraw, redeem or require the repurchase of such securities but may entitle holders to receive distributions made to all holders pro rata; and

(6) Is not registered under section 8 of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a-8), and has not elected to be treated as a business development company pursuant to section 54 of that Act (15 U.S.C. 80a-53).

(b) Certain pre-existing venture capital funds. For purposes of section 203(l) of the Act (15 U.S.C. 80b-3(l)) and in addition to any venture capital fund as set forth in paragraph (a), a venture capital fund also includes any private fund that:

(1) Has represented to investors and potential investors at the time of the offering of the private fund’s securities that it is a venture capital fund;

(2) Prior to December 31, 2010, has sold securities to one or more investors that are not related persons, as defined in § 275.204-2(d)(7), of any investment adviser of the private fund; and

(3) Does not sell any securities to (including accepting any committed capital from) any person after July 21, 2011.

(c) Definitions. For purposes of this section,

(1) Committed capital means any commitment pursuant to which a person is obligated to acquire an interest in, or make capital contributions to, the private fund.

(2) Equity securities has the same meaning as in section 3(a)(11) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(11)) and § 240.3a11-1 of this chapter.

(3) Publicly traded means, with respect to a company, being subject to the reporting requirements under section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78m or 78o(d)), or having a security listed or traded on any exchange or organized market operating in a foreign jurisdiction.

(4) Qualifying portfolio company means any company that:

(i) At the time of any investment by the private fund, is not publicly traded and does not control, is not controlled by or under common control with another company, directly or indirectly, that is publicly traded;

(ii) Does not borrow or issue debt obligations, directly or indirectly, in connection with the private fund’s investment in such company;

(iii) Does not redeem, exchange or repurchase any securities of the company, or distribute to pre-existing security holders cash or other company assets, directly or indirectly, in connection with the private fund’s investment in such company; and

(iv) Is not an investment company, a private fund, an issuer that would be an investment company but for the exemption provided by § 270.3a-7, or a commodity pool.


Bart Mallon, Esq. is a hedge fund attorney and works with a variety of managers to hedge funds, private equity funds and venture capital funds.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Proposed Hedge Fund Registration Bill Now Excludes VC Funds

Venture Capital Funds May Not Have to Register with Hedge Funds

While hedge funds have reluctantly resigned to the likely fate of SEC registration (see MFA Supports Registration), the venture capital community has been fighting hard to remain unregistered.  On this front, the VC community enjoyed a victory last week as Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA) proposed an amendment to the Obama administration’s Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009 (“PFIARA”).  The new proposed bill provides an exemption from registration for certain managers to “venture capital funds” as that term will be defined by the SEC.  The following section provides the full wording of the new exemption and I end this posts with some of my thoughts on this exemption.

Venture Capital Fund Registration Exemption

The following section has replaced the previous section 6 (which now becomes section 7).  Besides this change the PFIARA remains the same.


Section 203 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-3) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

‘‘(l) EXEMPTION OF AND REPORTING BY VENTURE  CAPITAL FUND ADVISERS.—The Commission shall identify and define the term ‘venture capital fund’ and shall provide an adviser to such a fund an exemption from the registration requirements under this section. The Commission shall require such advisers to maintain such records and provide to the Commission such annual or other reports as the Commission determines necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.’’.

Discussion of the Exemption

From a political perspective, I am actually pretty surprised that this was added to the bill.  First, I find it interesting that a bill named the “Private Fund” registration act (not “Hedge Fund” registration act) would then exempt certain private funds.  Second, it is curious that the drafter left it to the SEC to create a definition of “venture capital fund” – it will be interesting to see how the SEC interprets this Congressional mandate.  Finally, it is also curious that VC funds are specifically exempted and potentially not private equity funds.  Generally VC funds are regarded as a type of private equity fund – presumably the SEC could fix this by creating a very broad definition for “venture capital funds” which would also include private equity.  Unfortunately this puts the SEC in a difficult position as they will now have to deal with the politics of creating definitions.

We will keep you up to date on this and other bills. Please also remember that this current version of the bill is subject to future change.

For the full proposed bill, please see: Hedge Fund Registration Bill – No VC Registration


10/1/09: Kanjorski Releases Financial Reform Drafts on Investor Protection, Private Advisor Registration

Capital Markets Chairman Addresses Key Pieces of Financial Regulatory Reform Through Comprehensive Bills and Administration Input

WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, today released discussion drafts of three pieces of legislation aimed at tackling key parts of reforming the regulatory structure of the U.S. financial services industry.  The draft bills include the Investor Protection Act, the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act, and the Federal Insurance Office Act.

Chairman Kanjorski introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this year and in the last Congress to create a federal insurance office, which was backed by the Obama Administration and included in its proposals for financial services regulatory reform.  Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, joined as an original co-sponsor of the 2009 bill when it was first introduced.  Chairman Kanjorski also worked to revise and significantly enhance the Investor Protection Act and the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act proposed by the Obama Administration this summer.

“Today, we take another step forward in overhauling the regulatory structure of the financial services industry,” said Chairman Kanjorski.  “With these three bills we will address many of the shortcomings and loopholes laid bare by the current financial crisis.  The Investor Protection Act will better protect investors and increase the funding and enforcement powers of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  We must ensure that investor confidence continues to increase for the betterment of our financial system.

“Additionally, we need to ensure that everyone who swims in our capital markets has an annual pool pass.  The Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act will force many more financial providers to register with the SEC.  Many financial firms skirt government oversight and get away like bandits, but now the advisers to hedge funds, private equity firms, and other private pools of capital would become subject to more scrutiny by the SEC.

“Finally, bipartisan legislation which I first introduced in the last Congress to create a federal insurance office to fill a gap in the federal government’s knowledge base on financial activities.  For several years, including in this Congress, I have worked to advance bipartisan legislation to address this issue, and I am pleased that the Administration also understands the need for this office and welcome the refinements they suggested to my bill.”

Summaries of the three legislative discussion drafts follow:

Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act

Everyone Registers. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. By mandating the registration of private advisers to hedge funds and other private pools of capital, regulators will better understand exactly how those entities operate and whether their actions pose a threat to the financial system as a whole.

Better Regulatory Information. New recordkeeping and disclosure requirements for private advisers will give regulators the information needed to evaluate both individual firms and entire market segments that have until this time largely escaped any meaningful regulation, without posing undue burdens on those industries.

Level the Playing Field. The advisers to hedge funds, private equity firms, single-family offices, and other private pools of capital will have to obey some basic ground rules in order to continue to play in our capital markets. Regulators will have authority to examine the records of these previously secretive investment advisers.




Washington D.C., October 1, 2009 —

The following statement is attributed to Mark G. Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association:

“The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) applauds the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act proposal announced today by Representative Paul Kanjorski (DPA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee. We are extremely appreciative of the work done in drafting this legislation by the Subcommittee and Members of the full Committee under the leadership of Chairman Barney Frank (DMA). This proposal recognizes that venture capital firms do not pose systemic financial risk and that requiring them to register under the Advisers Act would place an undue burden on the venture industry and the entrepreneurial community. The venture capital industry supports a level of transparency which gives policy makers ongoing comfort in assessing risk. The NVCA is committed to working with Congress, the SEC and the Administration on the most effective implementation of this proposal.

We look forward to sharing specific thoughts with Members of the Committee on Tuesday, October 6 when NVCA Chairman Terry McGuire is scheduled to testify at the hearing, “Capital Markets Regulatory Reform: Strengthening Investor Protection, Enhancing Oversight of Private Pools of Capital, and Creating a National Insurance Office.” The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) represents more than 400 venture capital firms in the United States. NVCA’s mission is to foster greater understanding of the importance of venture capital to the U.S. economy and support entrepreneurial activity and innovation. According to a 2009 Global Insight study, venture-backed companies accounted for 12.1 million jobs and $2.9 trillion in revenue in the United States in 2006.

The NVCA represents the public policy interests of the venture capital community, strives to maintain high professional standards, provides reliable industry data, sponsors professional development, and facilitates interaction among its members. For more information about the NVCA, please visit www.nvca.org.



Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP helps hedge fund managers to register as investment advisors with the SEC or the state securities divisions.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or register as an investment advisor, please contact us or call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.  Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Obama Moves Forward with Hedge Fund Registration Legislation

Bart Mallon, Esq.

Treasury Announces New “Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009”

After much discussion in the press over the last 8 to 10 months abut the possibility for hedge fund registration, the Treasury today announced the Obama Administration’s bill which requires managers to “private funds” to register with the SEC.  This registration requirement would apply to managers of all funds relying on the Section 3(c)(1) or Section 3(c)(7) which includes managers to private equity and venture capital funds.  Additionally, all registered managers would need to provide the SEC with certain reports on the funds which they manage.

The Treasury release is below and can be found here.  We will post the text of the new act shortly.  [Update: we have just published the text of the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009.]


Fact Sheet: Administration’s Regulatory Reform Agenda Moves Forward: Legislation for the Registration of Hedge Funds Delivered to Capitol Hill

Continuing its push to establish new rules of the road and make the financial system more fair across the board, the Administration today delivered proposed legislation to Capitol Hill to require all advisers to hedge funds and other private pools of capital, including private equity and venture capital funds, to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In recent years, the United States has seen explosive growth in a variety of privately-owned investment funds, including hedge funds, private equity funds, and venture capital funds. At various points in the financial crisis, de-leveraging by such funds contributed to the strain on financial markets.  Because these funds were not required to register with regulators, the government lacked the reliable, comprehensive data necessary to monitor funds’ activity and assess potential risks in the market.  The Administration’s legislation would help protect investors from fraud and abuse, provide increased transparency, and provide the information necessary to assess whether risks in the aggregate or risks in any particular fund pose a threat to our overall financial stability.

Protect Investors From Fraud And Abuse

Require Advisers To Private Investment Funds to Register With The SEC.  Although some advisers to hedge funds and other private investment funds are required to register with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and some register voluntarily with the SEC, current law generally does not require private fund advisers to register with any federal financial regulator. The Administration’s legislation would, for the first time, require that all investment advisers with more than $30 million of assets under management to register with the SEC.  Once registered with the SEC, investment advisers to private funds will be subject to important requirements such as:

  • Substantial regulatory reporting requirements with respect to the assets, leverage, and off-balance sheet exposure of their advised private funds
  • Disclosure requirements to investors, creditors, and counterparties of their advised private funds
  • Strong conflict-of-interest and anti-fraud prohibitions
  • Robust SEC examination and enforcement authority and recordkeeping requirements
  • Requirements to establish a comprehensive compliance program

Require Increased Disclosure Requirements. The Administration’s legislation would require that all investment funds advised by an SEC-registered investment adviser be subject to recordkeeping requirements; requirements with respect to disclosures to investors, creditors, and counterparties; and regulatory reporting requirements.

Protect Financial System From Systemic Risk

Monitor Hedge Funds For Potential Systemic Risk. Under the Administration’s legislation, the regulatory requirements mentioned above would include confidential reporting of amount of assets under management, borrowings, off-balance sheet exposures, counterparty credit risk exposures, trading and investment positions, and other important information relevant to determining potential systemic risk and potential threats to our overall financial stability. The legislation would require the SEC to conduct regular examinations of such funds to monitor compliance with these requirements and assess potential risk. In addition, the SEC would share the disclosure reports received from funds with the Federal Reserve and the Financial Services Oversight Council. This information would help determine whether systemic risk is building up among hedge funds and other private pools of capital, and could be used if any of the funds or fund families are so large, highly leveraged, and interconnected that they pose a threat to our overall financial stability and should therefore be supervised and regulated as Tier 1 Financial Holding Companies.


Bart Mallon, Esq. runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  Mallon P.C. helps hedge fund managers to register as investment advisors with the SEC or the state securities divisions.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or register as an investment advisor, please contact us or call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.  Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Tech Royalty Starts New Venture Capital Fund

New Investment Fund Focuses on Tech Start Ups

New Trend Emerges in Silicon Valley

The first quarter of 2009 marked the lowest level of investment since 1997, according to the National Venture Capital Associates.  The Venture industry in particular has suffered as the number of IPOs and acquisitions has plummeted.   In the Silicon Valley, where some of the recessionary fog is now lifting, investors and entrepreneurs have a chance to invest in the market and take advantage of the low valuations.  With technology and software tools driving down the cost of starting a tech company by more than 100 times compared with a few decades ago, the potential for a new era of technology investment is emerging.  Marc Andreessen, recognized by the venture capital community as an entrepreneurial visionary, has announced the formation of a new fund attempting to take advantage of this new trend.

Marc Andreesen – Industry Icon

Andreessen’s fund, Andreessen Horowitz, is co-founded with Ben Horowitz, an affiliate and partner from their former venture – Netscape. Andreessen moved to Silicon Valley and co-founded Netscape with entrepreneur Jim Clark, funded by blue-chip venture fund Kleiner Perkins. Almost instantly Netscape exploded into a business with enormous profit potential, with this 1995 IPO stock offered at $28 grew up to $75 by the close of trading.  However, the glory of Netscape was short-lived, as Microsoft surfaced into the same competitive space and won the battle. Soon thereafter, the investment industry experienced the now-famous dot-com bust, which all but froze the technology industry. Andreessen continued to build his reputation in the Silicon Valley as a well-connected entrepreneur who served as an invaluable vessel of knowledge to other entrepreneurs (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook) in terms of how to build and manage a strong technology company. Now, Andreessen has joined forces with his former colleague, Horowitz, to introduce a new fund that will focus its investment strategies on a diversified portfolio of emerging startups in technology sector.

The New Fund – Strategies and Setbacks

One reason the new fund has the industry buzzing is the sheer amount of financial backing it brings in a time where investor confidence is low. Through a few institutional investors and several key industry players, Andreessen Horowitz was able to pull in approximately $300 million in funds, which amounts to less than one third the size of the biggest boom-year venture funds and qualified Andreessen Horowitz to be regarded as the most prominent fund raised in 2009.

The Andreessen Horowitz investment strategy includes  investing in 60-70 startups and having deal days meeting with at least 5-10 companies per day, offering the partners a constant vantage point to target and isolate industry shifts and evaluate what new innovations may be profitable. The fund’s strategy of investing in a myriad of startups does pose potential problems, such as truly tracking and backing the potential downfall of one or several of these many companies, and monitoring potential conflicts where the fund invests in two startup companies that eventually become direct competitors of one another (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).  In response to how he plans to guard against such potential setbacks, Andreessen says that he will extensively research and disclose all potential conflicts and take measures to protect confidential information.

What this Means for the Investment Industry

As Andreessen attempts to restore investor confidence by capitalizing on the new rapid emergence of startup technology companies, the hope of generating large, ‘Netscape-esque’ returns sets a new optimistic tone for an otherwise risk-averse financial community.  If successful, the new fund could potentially lift the cloud of doubt that looms over the investment industry by employing a strategy that both embraces cutting-edge innovation and provides even the smallest industry players the opportunity to have their ideas seen and heard by renowned industry veterans.


Please contact us if you have any questions or are interested in starting a hedge fund.  Other related hedge fund law articles include: