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A Video Conversation with Ashton Newhall, Managing Partner of Greenspring Associates- Part 3- On Funding

Click here for Part 1, Part 2 Building a billion-dollar investment firm by putting trust and relationships first ashton-newhallAshton Newhall is the co-founder and co-managing partner of Greenspring Associates. Founded in 2000, Greenspring is a leading global investment firm that today manages over $3.5 billion in capital commitments worldwide. Greenspring acts primarily as a fund of funds, backing a host of dynamic venture capital firms, including Greycroft Partners, Revolution, and Volition Capital. Additionally, Greenspring has been involved with private companies such as GrubHub, FanDuel, and Alibaba Group. Before starting Greenspring, Ashton Newhall was an associate at T. Rowe Price, where he held the distinction of being one of youngest marketers of the firm’s investment management services. What about VC investment—which types of funds do you target? ASHTON NEWHALL: I guess the question is how do we go about fund selection, and what is it that causes us to back one fund versus another. I think, generically speaking, we found that there’s a very small number of firms that have been disproportionately responsible for the returns of the industry. So, what we try to do from a fund investment perspective, is really take a rifle shot approach to fund investing, where we believe we’re partnering with the managers that can in fact create those disproportionate returns. Fundamentally, that comes down to a handful of characteristics, one of which is proprietary deal sourcing. In many cases, some of the funds that we’re partnering with are more seed and early stage oriented, so they’re very skilled at getting involved in these companies at a very early stage. They’re typically taking higher ownership stakes. Then the second question is once they’ve made an investment and deployed that capital, can they impact the outcome for the positive through strategic connections, partnerships, introductions—anything and everything they can do to add value. I would say that there’s a large number of venture firms in the world that pay lip service to being able to deliver on that, and there’s a very small number of firms that have proven, over long periods of time, that they can actually deliver on that promise, and that’s where we tend to focus. How do you decide when and how to invest in local companies? I think in general the question relates to how do we select firms, I guess generically, and then more specifically, how do we decide to partner with a local firm? I think from our perspective, it has less to do with the geographical location of the firm and more with whether or not we believe they can deliver risk-adjusted return in up, down, and sideways markets. Fortunately, some of those groups have happened to be local. What is Greenspring’s goal as an investment firm? Our goal was never to be the biggest. Our goal is really to be one of the best at the three pillars that we are prosecuting: primary fund commitments, secondary investing, and direct investing. And so we’re trying to build a team that really can stand the test of time, that’s multigenerational. At Greenspring we’re trying to practice the art of venture capital in a way that’s unique and differentiated, and that allows us to deliver outlier results. We’re really trying to create a culture that can stand the test of time. Tell us about what you invest in outside of the job. As a family, we’ve been a significant supporter of the Baltimore Museum of Art. That is a passion of my father’s, serving as chairman of some of the campaigns that they’ve had in the past. From a personal point of view, I’m very involved with my alma mater, which is Elon University. I’m also on the board of Garrison Forest School, where I have three daughters that are very involved—ages 7, 9, and 15—and so that has been a personal interest of mine to hopefully be a force for good, and hoping that Garrison will be one of the preeminent institutions not only locally but nationally for the decades to come. Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With 120 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eight offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Northern Virginia markets, as well as the Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City metropolitan areas. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. 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