In this 50-minute podcast, Michael Larsen, managing director focused on venture capital at Cambridge Associates, explains how Cambridge works with its global institutional clients (e.g., endowments, foundations, family offices, pensions) in building and implementing VC programs and shares some colorful insight into his career path. He explains Cambridge’s approach to manager due diligence, his views on the current stage of the VC cycle and opportunities in the asset class, the increasingly complex and ever-changing taxonomy, and waves of innovation that he anticipates in the coming decade.
“[After grad school] I thought CA was about data. I began to learn more about the firm… CA is an investment firm, they build portfolios, they are particularly strong in building these alternative asset portfolios with private funds.”
Larsen articulates Cambridge’s process and approach to working with clients in discretionary and non-discretionary ways, meeting them where they need to be met, sometimes serving as the defacto head of private investments. He helps clients design, construct and oversee the portfolio in order to be successful for the next 10 years.
Regarding cultivating and building manager relationships, Larsen explains Cambridge’s rigorous due diligence process and ongoing relationship management when engaging new, emerging, and established managers to ensure alignment with his clients’ interests and to ensure there is a sustainable strategy within the fund and its executives for long-term success. The manager evaluation process “ultimately comes down to the people, the process, and the performance,” he says.
“It’s very rare that an investment committee will hire us for expertise and hire us with confidence and then shoot down our recommendations.”
Origins is a podcast “about Limited Partners, the firms and institutions that invest in venture capital funds.” Through a series of interviews, partners at Notation Capital explore “what has historically been an opaque corner of the startup ecosystem and learn how the people behind the capital make decisions.” View Larsen’s podcast and others here.