Yesterday I got sucked down the rabbit hole of SEC registration documents – the lengthy questionnaires that venture capital and private equity firms are now required to file with the SEC, per Dodd-Frank. Actually, "rabbit hole" is not the right phrase here, because what Alice found on the other side was actually interesting. "Time suck" would be more appropriate.
There was tons of information, but very little of it was stuff that couldn't be found on a basic Google search (or on a firm's website).
In fact, the only interesting items were in the section titled "Direct Owners and Executive Officers." That's where we learned who really owns certain firms. For example, Greylock Partners only lists Bill Helman, David Sze, Aneel Bhusri and chief administrative officer Donald Sullivan. In other words, no Reid Hoffman, James Slaver, John Lilly, etc. Similar situation at Accel Partners, where high-profile names like Rich Wong, Kevin Efrusy and Theresa Gouw Ranzetta were missing.
I was hoping for a bit of scandal in the section about civil or criminal charges against firm employees (excluding support staff), but came up empty (save for some well-known class action lawsuits involving portfolio companies).
So my general reaction to VC/PE registration is similar to my feelings before the policy actually went into effect: Much ado about very little.
Surely they are time-consuming to compile, but not terribly difficult and unlikely to disclose any sensitive proprietary information. And, in kind, there isn't much disclosed information of value to the SEC or general public. The only exception to the latter would be if a firm finds itself in regulatory hot water, the SEC would know who to call/charge.
Let's not speak of this again…
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