What is a "Fund of Fund aka (FoF)"

In this piece, you learn what a "Fund of Fund, aka FoF" is. This article is part of a comprehensive series designed to help you navigate the VC world and its terms and concepts. Whether you're an entrepreneur seeking funding, a student learning about the industry or you’re thinking about becoming an investor, this series is your gateway to VC clarity.
January 29, 2024
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What is a "Fund of Fund aka (FoF)"

In the venture capital (VC) context, a "fund of funds" (FoF) is a type of investment fund that invests in multiple other venture capital funds rather than directly investing in individual companies. Essentially, a fund of funds operates at the fund level, allocating capital to a portfolio of different VC funds rather than making direct investments in startups.

Key characteristics of a fund of funds in the VC context include:

  1. Diversification: The primary objective of a fund of funds is to achieve diversification by spreading investments across various venture capital funds. This diversification helps mitigate risk by exposure to a range of startups and industries.
  2. Access to Expertise: Fund of funds investors gain access to the expertise and deal-flow of multiple VC fund managers. Each VC fund typically specializes in certain sectors or stages of investment, allowing the fund of funds to benefit from a broader range of industry insights.
  3. Risk Management: By investing in a portfolio of VC funds, a fund of funds aims to manage risk more effectively than an investor directly investing in individual startups. The performance of the overall portfolio is influenced by the collective success of the underlying VC funds.
  4. Manager Selection: The fund of funds manager is responsible for selecting and allocating capital to various VC funds. This involves evaluating the track records, strategies, and expertise of different VC fund managers to assemble a well-balanced and diversified portfolio.
  5. Limited Partner Relationships: Investors in a fund of funds are often limited partners (LPs) in the fund, and the fund of funds, in turn, acts as an LP in the underlying VC funds. This structure allows individual investors to participate in the venture capital asset class indirectly.
  6. Capital Deployment: A fund of funds typically commits capital to VC funds over time as those funds identify promising investment opportunities. This staged approach allows for flexibility in adapting to market conditions and fund performance.
  7. Fund Lifecycle: Similar to traditional VC funds, fund of funds have a defined lifecycle. They raise capital from investors, commit that capital to underlying VC funds, and ultimately return capital and profits to their investors.

In summary, a fund of funds in the venture capital context serves as an intermediary investment vehicle, allocating capital to a diversified portfolio of other VC funds. This strategy provides investors with exposure to a broad range of startups and benefits from the expertise of various VC fund managers while managing risk through diversification.