To give a fund’s investors a 20% annual return, the firm needs to triple the money raised within a six-year period, Kopelman said. For a $400 million fund, that means returning $1.2 billion to investors. Since VCs typically don’t want the risk of holding more than 20% of the companies they invest in, they have to help build a few companies with a total of $6 billion in market value. But in the past few years only a handful of companies have sold or gone public for more than $1 billion. “You sit there and say, ‘Holy crap, that model doesn’t work,’ ” said Kopelman.
What’s a venture capitalist to do? For Kopelman and other super angels, the answer is to get small. Super angels still aim for billion-dollar exits, but their model doesn’t hinge on home runs. Instead, they can profit by hitting singles and doubles and reducing their strikeouts.