Veil seeks private equity and real assets managers ("GPs"...funds, fundless sponsors, corporations...but not early stage venture)
GPs are anonymous--e.g. a Boston-based $300 million buyout private equity firm becomes "Eastern US Lower MM Buyout."
Meanwhile, LPs are free.
We do not profile many GPs, and LPs may view them in a dashboard containing only groups that fit their investment philosophy.
When viewing an interesting GP profile, LPs use a button to ask the GP's permission (the "unveil request") to communicate.
Only if a GP accepts an unveil request, Veil connects the two and tries to get out of the picture.
The GP contact is the person listed by Veil's contact--whether that's an in-house marketing designee, the managing member, or a placement agent--we aim to avoid circumvention.
LPs are also anonymous.
We're glad you asked. We think that Veil is to databases as Angie's List is to the yellow pages. If you seek a good service provider, where would you turn first: a list of everyone, or a curated one?
Veil has also been described--at different times--as "the [insert your favorite app] of finding GPs," "the slow food vs chain restaurant of LP/GP networks," and "Jim's magnum dopus" (spelling intended).
Online database-driven networks allow all-comers on the GP side. We think these are best-used for creating comparables. Our view is that LPs using them do not know enough about a GP...making outreach calls rare or too hit-and-miss. We think that LPs actually need in-house staff or a service like Veil to sift through all of the stuff on these databases (alas, it's usually a poor analyst or less-poor senior person wasting bundles of time).
Veil: Veil is seeking the best GPs--which means that we do have some inherent and perhaps myopic views on quality--views stemming from real-world experience as seasoned LPs...not as sales people or software professionals. Our aim is that Veil LPs are able to see less clutter and a higher percentage of GPs that are worth the time to connect. For GPs on the network, we believe this makes each connection on Veil far more valuable than with databases (and cold-calling). A beautiful thing is that we should have positive network effects (an intentional "virtuous cycle"), and we have seen it in action.
Competitors: similar uses of time (vs Veil) come in three flavors: (1) databases, (2) placement agents, and (3) conferences. All may be valuable when used well. 1. We believe GPs have a difficult time differentiating themselves on large databases, adding to the challenge of finding a good partner (as stated above). 1. Through our experience, placement agents are best for GPs with large scale distribution needs or a bit more of a story to tell. We believe that some boutique placement agents play a valuable role, as they have the ability to focus on both their GPs and a select group of LPs where they have strong relationships. In fact, we've developed an ad-hoc/confederation of sorts with a number of these placement agent groups. We believe Veil is competitive with larger placement agents, if what they do is target GPs with strong historical track records who simply want more efficient access to new institutional investors--i.e. they do not need capital...they want to choose the right capital. 1. We believe conferences can theoretically be a good place to find the most active LPs and GPs. They charge a fixed cost, and some provide 1-on-1 meeting services, where they claim that they pre-screen both sides. We've heard mixed results, and again, these may be useful as part of an LP's or GP's holistic strategy to research the other side. Because we recognize the potential face-to-face value in conferences, we have partnered with the Institutional Limited Partners Association ("ILPA") to create what we believe is a unique meta-analysis web application for every global LP-relevant conference that we could find. If interested, it is here: www.ilpacalendar.org.
Veil: Veil believes in demonstrating value first. There is low or no fixed cost to GPs. Like a placement agent, Jim Hardin (Veil founder) is a registered representative of Emerson Equity LLC (Registered Broker-Dealer), which makes a contingent-on-investing fee possible (A personal affiliation with a Broker-Dealer is required to accept a contingent fee).
Competitors: databases appear to architect their service around the notion that LPs have a "bucket" to fill (geography, size, strategy, etc.). Within that bucket, we think LP users are trying to find the "best of"--which Veil believes leads to the "best of the okay" (to be politically correct). When these database providers tout "private equity performance," the metrics they provide are nearly useless, in our opinion. "Compare to similar GPs?" What's similar? Over what time period? How do you tease out beta? "Compare using IRR" or "DPI?" Just use the collective amount of hair on the GPs' heads--we think that's nearly as helpful.
Veil: Veil approaches the LP's search for GPs as "let's try to find the best investors who we believe are the best partners too." This means that GPs can have any strategy and do not necessarily have to manage a fund. In our experience, there are so many strategies and nuances--and probably only a few "never-ever"s--that finding who we believe to be the best investors first and then learning what they do and how they're structured is a better approach. When an LP has a "bucket" and also finds a great investor--fantastic, everyone wins. We do allow for the same kind of bucket targeting, but it's just not our focus.
Competitors: It appears that databases take whomever pays, within reason. Consultants represent LPs. Placement agents represent GPs. They each provide a useful service when used for the right goal. As mentioned above, we curate and recommend placement agents for GPs who are not a good fit for Veil (or vice versa) on http://gp.fundveil.com/agentcurate.
Veil: We believe there is a very powerful virtuous cycle in providing features for both LPs and GPs. We've only ever been investors, and that hat stays on. This isn't BS to try to "play" both sides. For example, providing GPs anonymity means that the more private, spam-hating GPs should have lower barriers to joining Veil. Lower barriers to entry for GPs hopefully means more of the great ones on our network. GPs pay because, well, LPs are cheap (we understand)! And our business model is meant to attract skeptical, value-oriented GPs.
Competitors: databases appear to focus on taxonomy--i.e. the location, size, etc. of a GP. They also provide the GP's name, contact, and often a nifty logo. We do not believe that they enable LPs to answer, "is this a GP that I should spend more time getting to know?"
Veil: GP information is where we take pride. Far and away, our "nose sniffing" cautionary observations are LP members' favorite feature. Where else does someone who may be paid by a GP tell you "here are the 3-5 things we think are possible flags or weaker attributes of this GP?" Veil also enables LPs to pass/unveil GPs based on their quality--not things found using Google or LinkedIn. We look at net performance relative to public benchmarks--relevant ones. We show multiple of capital, and we also look at mIRR, not the more problematic IRR. We analyze individual investment attribution, and we take it much further. Without giving away the secret sauce, we consider various types of "change" (turnover, size growth) when thinking about the potential persistence of performance. Yes, we've read the literature around the lack of PE persistence, and we think we have an edge there. Lastly, Veil actually looks at alignment and governance (we're fans of ILPA's best practices).
Veil does not allow advertisers to solicit its members. GPs may not solicit LPs, and if LPs solicit GPs, they can be turned down anonymously.
In addition to our answers found in "How does Veil 'work'?" and "What makes Veil different?"...the very first thing that LPs can do is use Veil as another source of what we hope are good ideas. Even if LPs never "use" the www.fundveil.com web application, they can redirect GPs our way--we're discrete and usually helpful in some form. We think you as LPs will not be embarrassed by how we operate.
We know that LPs have their own professional and personal networks, experience, portfolio manager referrals, placement agent relationships, etc. As former LPs, we sifted through hundreds of PPMs a year--if not thousands. With Veil, LPs provide a name and email, and we assess their suitability for what we do. We check which GPs may fit, and then the new LP member is up and running.
We believe that GPs have massive downside and little upside to providing misleading information on Veil. This is a natural question, as the providers of information may initially believe that they have an incentive to look as good as possible. In our experience, that's also just the world they live in--always having to highlight what they do.
We review PPMs and LPAs when available. We also look at models--we may certainly miss something, but there are examples of GPs raising funds who show misleading information (not always diliberate), and we've found it and passed.
"Self-regulation."" LPs will typically require a data download after a successful connection. Word travels fast--LPs will inform peers about bad actors, and we encourage them to report a misleading GP to Veil for investigation and potential removal.
To hopefully save money and time--IF GPs don't have a fundraise completely locked-up or the desired diversification of LPs. In addition to our answers found in "How does Veil 'work'?" and "What makes Veil different?"...the next reason GPs would work with Veil is that they will not be lost in the unwieldy pile of all-comers--each has a chance to stand out. With lower overhead and more flexibility than a full-service placement agent, we can be useful even when not "marketing." Veil is more often an "and" not an "or" decision when looking at third parties who may help with LP introductions.
We believe that a huge factor for GPs when considering anyone is the number of quality LPs. That is why we hear negative anecdotes about databases and some conferences--GPs join/attend--and either the LP numbers were inflated, or the quality on both sides is diluted. Our hypothesis is that knowing that Veil was created by an LP, will stay small, with no cost to LPs, and we believe with more relevant information than databases--should create network effects. We have 112 LP members (including 50 endowments and foundations), of which 30 are fairly active. We are always building and bolstering the LP side.
The final reason is anonymity. Some GPs don't care about it, but we believe a GP who is not discerning about its LPs is probably not a good fit. So, we think there is positive self-selection.
We believe that double-blind anonymity may be the magic that makes Veil work. Most agree that LPs should be anonymous--or at least that in order to have high quality, discrete LPs on a network--one needs to allow them to make first contact. After all, they have the capital.
But...in our experience, the best GPs are in just as much demand. They too do not want to be pestered. Therefore, the intersection between great GPs and selective GPs (desiring just a few new LPs) is theoretically best hit when GPs can have more control over the process. Anonymity is a big ingredient in that recipe.
With anonymity, GPs can pre-select LP types or names to exclude or include, and they can reject requests from anyone, for any reason...without the risk of damaging their reputation or coming across as "jerks." To be clear, we do not tell them who is on Veil--they either cross out names from a massive list or provide their own.
First, we do not replace much of what placement agents do. There's a decent academic paper about the value of placement agents, and it lists seven services. We provide two of those and partially provide two more. What are they? Like placement agents, we help a fundraise wrap up faster, and we provide access to a broad and diverse set of LPs (with feedback from some who decline). We also perform light diligence and provide feedback on fund terms. We do none of the rest--although we do provide a marketability assessment and a consult through the lens of an endowment investor, which can be very helpful to those starting their fund marketing. With anonymity, placement agents may list an anonymous client fund and be the point of contact.
Next, Veil may provide tremendous value to boutique placement agents by extending their reach--whether it's finding LPs they do not know, or reaching into more remote areas that just don't make the priority list. For the most part, Veil's value to placement agents is that we provide inbound communication. If using Veil results in interest from an LP "prospect" who typically never returns emails, calls, or is otherwise way down the list--that can be very valuable to a placement agent.
Finally, Veil is 100% owned by employees.
Consultants are considered LPs in our system. They are undertaking the GP diligence and making recommendations, and they benefit as much as an internally managed LP team by having Veil do an initial screen.
GPs pay nothing for a quick read, through the lens of a former endowment-style investor. They pay Emerson Equity LLC, Registered Broker-Dealer, only if capital is committed to the GP's vehicle (and potentially for more involved consulting). Veil founder Jim Hardin is a registered representative of Emerson Equity LLC. Regarding adverse selection, we understand that some GPs need zero assistance when meeting new LPs...these will never use Veil (even if the only cost is time). That said, we believe that plenty of GPs want to add a few more LPs, have a great--but not lengthy--track record, or want to diversify their LPs. We think we're highly efficient and good value for those GPs. We also believe that most if not all LPs can benefit from a quick screen of the "80/20" eyeball test that we provide.
Please see our Compliance Agreement. All LPs are qualified at the time Veil admits them. All are either large institutions meeting the qualified institutional buyer ("QIB") $100 million asset thresholds or, in rare cases, the qualified purchaser ("QP") $5 million asset threshold. Particularly because a commitment or investment may happen months or years after an introduction, any GP or its placement agent is still responsible for reasonable efforts to assess the suitability of any LP.