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Management Fees in Venture Capital: How VCs Get Paid, What Is a 2-and-20 Structure, and How to Negotiate Fees as a Fund Manager

Management fees in venture capital are fees charged to the limited partners by the venture capital firm to cover its operating expenses. These fees are typically calculated as a percentage of the total committed capital to the venture fund.

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Generally, management fees range from 1-3% of the total capital and are usually paid quarterly or annually.

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Management fees are an important part of the venture capital model, as they help to cover the costs of operating and managing a venture fund. However, some investors view these fees as a cost of doing business and believe they should be minimized as much as possible. As a result, some venture capitalists may choose to lower their management fees in order to attract more capital and be more competitive in the market.

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In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the role of management fees in venture capital and explore some of the key considerations for investors and fund managers.

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β€˜To learn more about other terms commonly used in venture capital,Β check out our complete VC Glossary.

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Table of Contents

How do VCs typically get paid?

Venture capital funds make money through two methods: management fees and carried interest.

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Management fees are charged to investors for managing the fund, usually set at 2% of the fund’s value annually. The fee is used to cover salaries, accounting, taxes, and other expenses associated with running the fund. The management fee is reduced each year after the active investment period, dropping usually by 20 basis points until the fund is closed.

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Carried interest is a percentage of the fund’s profits that the VC firm receives as part of its agreement with a startup. Most funds start at 20% carried interest, but a successful firm may negotiate for a higher carry. Carried interest becomes more lucrative when the fund’s investments are distributed back to investors.

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In a hypothetical $100 million fund, a 20% carry would result in a $20 million gain after the initial $100 million is distributed. Partners usually split a larger percentage of the carry, while other employees receive a smaller percentage. This encourages good decision-making and helps funds incentivize participation.

The Different Types of Venture Capital Management Fees

Venture capital management fees are typically categorized into three types: fund expenses for the organization and ongoing administration and legal fees, fund management fees, and carried interest. Each type of fee has its own structure and payment terms.

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Fund Management Fees

There are two types of management fees in venture capital firms: fund organization which includes administration and legal fees, and fund management fees.

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Fund organization, administration, and legal fees include the fees associated with creating a legal structure for the fund, such as filing fees and attorney fees. Ongoing legal fees related to side letter negotiations, amendments to the fund’s operative documents, and other expenses that require legal expertise are also included in this category. Fund administrative fees, such as the preparation of financial statements and annual tax preparation services, are also part of this category.

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Fund management fees refer to the annual fee paid by the fund to the GP to compensate the General Partner for their work and to cover certain expenses related to operating the fund, such as salaries, insurance, and travel. Management fees usually range from 2% to 2.5% of committed capital and are typically charged every year the fund is in operation. The size of the management fee often depends on the size of the fund, and it can be paid on a straight-line basis or on a “step-down” basis.

Carried Interest

Carried interest is a kind of fee that venture capitalists get if their investments make money. It is extra money they get to help cover the costs of running a venture fund.

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The rate of this fee is determined based on the performance of the portfolio investments. It can vary depending on how successful the investments are.

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Carried interest helps venture capitalists cover costs that other management fees like administration, legal, and exit fees do not. This extra money is necessary to help them stay in business and continue to make more investments.

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What is a 2 and 20 fee structure?

Two and twenty” is a standard fee arrangement in the hedge fund, venture capital, and private equity industries.

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The “two” refers to a 2% annual management fee charged by the fund for managing assets, while the “twenty” refers to a performance fee of 20% of profits made by the fund above a certain benchmark.

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The 2% fee is paid regardless of the fund’s performance, while the 20% fee is charged only if the fund achieves a certain level of performance.

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Some funds may also have a high watermark policy to ensure that the fund manager is only paid a percentage of profits if the fund’s net value exceeds its previous highest value. This fee structure has come under scrutiny from investors and politicians in recent years, despite its ability to make many fund managers extremely wealthy.

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What Is the Typical Lifetime of a VC Fund?

Most venture capital funds have a 10-year time period to invest all of their capital and return the profits to the investors.

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There are some exceptions, but a 10-year life cycle is standard. Many 10-year funds will end up extending by another 2-3 years to clean up and distribute the final holdings.

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Management Fees Example

Management fees are an important part of the venture capital model and play out in various ways. For example, a venture capitalist may charge a 2% annual management fee to cover their costs for running the fund. This is usually a percentage of the total money that is invested in the fund and helps pay for things like staff, legal costs, and other analyses.

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Other types of management fees can also be charged depending on the size of the fund or the amount of capital being provided. These fees help cover costs such as exit fees when a portfolio company is sold or taken public, which can range between 1-5% of the proceeds.

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Additionally, carried interest is another type of incentive fee that is paid to venture capitalists based on profits from their investments. The rate of this fee is dependent on how successful the investments are, and it helps to cover expenses that other management fees do not account for.

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Overall, these kinds of fees are essential to help cover costs associated with running a venture fund, but some people think they should be kept as low as possible so more investments can be made. Some investors may choose to lower their management fees in order to attract more capital and be more competitive in the market while still maximizing returns for their investors and minimizing expenses.

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Negotiating Management Fees as a Fund Manager

As a fund manager, it is possible to negotiate management fees in order to optimize returns for investors and minimize expenses. Negotiations around the management fee should consider the size of the fund, the amount of capital being provided, the performance of portfolio investments, and any other associated costs. It is important that a fund manager understands all components of the management fee.

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Bottom Line

In short, management fees are paid to the general partner of a venture capital fund in order to cover the costs associated with running the business. They are typically around 2% of the total amount raised and are a standard part of the venture capital ecosystem, and serve an important purpose for investors and VC firms.

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