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Investing Between the Coasts and Beyond the Valley: SPVs Across the U.S.

Oct 17, 2022 10:00:00 AM | Assure Analytics

 

Towards the beginning of this year, Assure released the State of the SPV report, exploring SPV use across all Assure deals and offering novel insight into what’s “typical” when it comes to SPV size, investor participation, management fees, deployment speed, and more. 

While market-wide data is always helpful – especially in the age of Zoom and remote investing – SPV use does vary quite a bit by region. Regardless of where the underlying asset is located, deals being done by organizers in the Bay Area tend to be influenced by the typical practices of their Bay Area peers, whereas deals being done by organizers in Chicago will be shaped by their Chicago peers.

In our market-wide report, we looked at some geographic differences depending on the state of the SPV organizer, but the scope was limited and offered minimal details for the various markets between California and New York. This is the beginning of a series of articles exploring geographic variation in SPV use. Here, we’ll take the Coasts vs Between the Coasts framework and unpack differences in SPV activity. Future articles will dive deeper into select U.S. markets.

This analysis looks at nearly 4K SPVs formed through Assure since the beginning of 2018, focused on those organized by U.S.-based individuals, VC firms, family offices, syndicate funds, and other organizing entities.


How It Breaks Down

As expected, the coasts dominate SPV count. In a typical period, organizers between the coasts account for just 10% to 20% of SPVs formed. This is hardly a novel finding given the dominance of California and New York in the financial markets.  

Over time, the SPV pool has been trending towards the East Coast over the West, driven largely by New York City but supported by other ecosystems like DC, Boston, and Atlanta. In 2021, more than half of SPVs were set up by East Coast organizers. 

Interestingly, SPVs between the coasts have had an outlier first half of 2022, accounting for more than a third of the SPV count

SPVs by Geo- Time Trends SPV Count

SPVs by Geo - Map of SPV Count

Capital Raised

Perhaps counterintuitively, SPVs between the coasts often account for a larger portion of total capital raised than they do for SPV count – although there’s quite a bit more fluctuation period to period.

There was a particularly notable spike in the proportion of capital being raised between the coasts in the first half of 2021, when nearly 40% of SPV capital went to this region. This stands in stark contrast to typical geographic distributions of capital in the financial markets; for instance, the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City alone typically garner half of the assets invested in startups.

But despite an outsized 1H 2021, the share of SPV capital between the coasts dropped drastically in the first half of 2022, to a record-low of 6%. In this period, SPV capital shifted dramatically towards the West Coast, despite SPV count leaning more heavily between the coasts. Together, this implies a few outsized deals accounted for much of the West Coasts’ capital haul.

SPVsGeo-TimeTrendsSPVCapital

SPVsGeo-MapSPVCapital

SPV Characteristics

The following analysis looks at SPVs formed between January 1, 2018 and June 30, 2022.

The typical SPV between the coasts raises $260K, a norm that’s considerably smaller than on the East and West coasts, where the medians are $562K and $446K, respectively.

However, there are certainly large outlier SPVs between the coasts, given the average SPV size between the coasts is actually larger than the average on the East Coast (where SPVs evidently cluster around the $500K to $1M mark). The average SPV between the coasts raises $2.2M, compared to $1.8M on the East Coast and $2.4M on the West Coast.

SPVs by Geo- SPV Size East Coast West Coast

SPVs between the coasts also tend to have fewer participating investors than SPVs elsewhere. Between the coasts, the median SPV raises from 10 investors and the average from 15. This contrasts with a median of 12-13 on the coasts, and an average of 20-30.

SPVsGeo-InvestorCount

The median SPV between the coasts collects $26K per investor, compared to $41K on the East Coast and $27K on the West Coast. The average sits quite a bit higher at $162K between the coasts, versus $166K for the East Coast, but much lower than the $595K average for the West Coast.

 

Bar Chart of SPVs and Management Fees by Location

SPVs between the coasts are less likely than those on the East or West coast to charge a management fee: just 3% of SPVs formed between the coasts since 2018 have charged a management fee. On the coasts, about 9% to 10% of SPVs have charged a management fee.

SPVsGeo-MgmtFees


In coming articles, we’ll explore SPVs between the coasts more closely, unpacking differences in SPV use for vehicles in the Midwest, Mountain, South, and Great Lakes regions. We’ll look at SPV deployment speed, investment minimums, management fees, and more. Subscribe to find out when each of those pieces is published, along with other data-driven and editorial content from Assure Analytics.

 

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