This is the eighth in our series of ten frequently asked questions from investors in venture capital partnerships.
Question: What happens if an LP wants to exit a VC fund? What are their rights?
Answer: The options here are limited, and they are (1) the LP can try to sell their interest, including the obligation to fund future capital calls, to a fund that acquires secondary interests. The good news is that a robust market exists for such interests in venture capital partnerships today; or (2) default. If you do wish to sell, the GP needs to approve the transfer, and the standard partnership agreement language leaves this decision in the “sole discretion” of the GP. There is no free lunch if you change your mind several years into a 10-year-plus partnership participation. And there shouldn’t be, which also means that either the secondary market buyer will take their pound of flesh by buying the LP’s interest at a substantial discount, or the GP will by offering the interest and its economic value on a discounted basis to the other LP’s. It is far less disruptive to the GP and to the GP-LP relationship for the exiting partner to sell to a secondary buyer, but these buyers are totally financially driven and are going to get the best deal possible for themselves.