VC 101: Private Equity vs. Venture Capital

We explain the differences between two key alternative asset classes

Written by

Luke Antal

Published on


2 min

Do you know the difference between private equity and venture capital? In this episode of VC 101, Chief Community Officer Luke Antal discusses the key differences between these alternative asset classes.

Private equity and venture capital are alternative assets that can help accredited investors diversify their portfolios from public markets. In this video, Chief Community Officer Luke Antal explains some of the key difference between these key asset classes.

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Differences Between VC & PE: The Power Law and More

Private equity and venture capital are alternative assets that can help accredited investors diversify their portfolios from public markets. An important distinction between these asset classes is how investors build their portfolios to increase the potential for outsized returns, specifically regarding the Power Law.

The Power Law argues that a small number of investments provide the majority of returns, and therefore, investors should build large, diversified portfolios to increase the potential of investing in successful companies.

In private equity, the Power Law isn’t really a factor. PE firms typically make larger investments in a smaller number of mature, distressed companies with favorable growth prospects. After a period of several years or longer, they look to sell the company at a higher price.

On the other hand, venture capital is a Power Law asset class. VC firms usually make many smaller investments in a large number of private, emerging technology companies. The goal is to build a well-positioned portfolio that earns most if its returns from a small number of successful exits, typically through M&A or IPO.

Below are other differences between the two asset classes:

Private Equity

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    Target Companies

    Fewer investments in mature companies across industries that are often distressed or restructuring, but still have favorable growth prospects
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    Deal Size & Terms

    Relatively large deals of $100+ million, funded through a combination of equity and debt
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    Investor Involvement

    Control of the company is usually assumed by the acquiring PE firm, which often oversees management changes and financial engineering

Venture Capital

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    Target Companies

    A larger volume of private, emerging technology investments, ranging from small startups to large, pre-IPO companies
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    Deal Size & Terms

    Multi-investor rounds of anywhere from $100,000+ to $10+ million, invested from funds of pooled private capital
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    Investor Involvement

    Founders typically retain control of the company, while VC firms receive equity and often serve in an advisory capacity

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