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Rolling Funds: Investment Vehicle for Continuous Deployment of Capital

Updated: May 4



For investors seeking a more flexible and evergreen approach to investing, a new type of fund structure called the "rolling fund" has emerged. Unlike traditional funds that have a defined lifespan and investment period, rolling funds are designed to operate on a perpetual basis, continuously raising and deploying capital. This innovative model offers several advantages for investors looking to capitalize on evolving market opportunities while maintaining a steady investment cadence.



How Rolling Funds Work


A rolling fund operates by establishing a series of parallel investment vehicles, each with a pre-defined target size and investment period, typically one year. As the first vehicle nears the end of its investment cycle, a new vehicle is launched to raise fresh capital from existing and new investors. This process repeats annually, creating a rolling series of investment vehicles that collectively form the overall fund.

For example, consider a rolling fund that targets raising $100 million annually. In year one, the fund establishes Vehicle 1 and begins deploying capital into investments. As Vehicle 1 approaches the end of its investment period in year two, the fund launches Vehicle 2 to raise a new $100 million. This process continues each year, with a new vehicle being established and the previous year's vehicle completing its investment cycle.


Benefits of Rolling Funds


  • Continuous Capital Deployment: Unlike traditional funds that have a finite investment period, rolling funds can continuously deploy capital into new investments as opportunities arise. This evergreen structure allows fund managers to maintain a consistent investment pace and avoid the challenges of fully investing large sums of capital within a compressed timeframe.

  • Diversification Across Vintages: By creating a series of parallel investment vehicles, rolling funds provide investors with exposure to a diversified portfolio of investments across multiple vintages or years. This diversification can help mitigate the impact of any single year's performance on the overall fund.

  • Flexible Entry and Exit: Investors in a rolling fund can choose to participate in specific vehicles or across multiple vehicles, allowing for greater flexibility in managing their investment exposure and liquidity needs. Additionally, rolling funds often provide more frequent opportunities for investors to exit or increase their commitments compared to traditional funds.

  • Alignment of Interests: The rolling structure incentivizes fund managers to maintain consistent performance over time, as their ability to raise capital for new vehicles depends on their track record. This alignment of interests between managers and investors can foster a long-term investment approach.


Examples of Rolling Funds


  • Venture Capital: Several prominent venture capital firms, such as Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, have adopted the rolling fund model for their early-stage investment vehicles. This structure allows them to continuously deploy capital into promising startups as they emerge, rather than being constrained by a defined investment period.

  • Private Equity: While less common in the private equity space, some firms have begun experimenting with rolling fund structures for certain strategies, such as growth equity or sector-specific funds. This approach can be particularly beneficial in rapidly evolving industries where investment opportunities can arise at any time.

  • Real Estate: Rolling funds have gained traction in the real estate investment space, allowing fund managers to continuously acquire and manage properties without the limitations of a traditional closed-end fund structure.


Evaluation Considerations for Rolling Funds


While rolling funds offer unique benefits, investors should carefully evaluate several key factors before committing capital to this structure:


  • Fund Manager Experience and Track Record: As with any investment, the experience and historical performance of the fund manager is crucial. Investors should scrutinize the manager's track record across previous funds or investment vehicles, paying close attention to their ability to consistently generate returns over multiple vintage years. A proven track record of successful capital deployment and exit execution is particularly important in a rolling fund structure.

  • Investment Strategy and Thesis: Investors should thoroughly understand the rolling fund's investment strategy, focus areas, and underlying thesis. As the fund will continuously deploy capital over an extended period, the durability and relevance of the investment thesis across market cycles becomes paramount. Strategies that can adapt to changing market conditions may be better suited to a rolling structure.

  • Terms and Fees: Like traditional funds, rolling funds will have management fees, carried interest, and other expenses that investors should carefully review. However, the perpetual nature of rolling funds may introduce additional complexities in fee structures, such as how fees are calculated across multiple investment vehicles or potential changes in fee terms for new vehicles.

  • Liquidity and Exit Provisions: While rolling funds offer more frequent opportunities for investors to exit or increase their commitments compared to traditional funds, investors should understand the specific liquidity provisions and any potential restrictions or lock-up periods. Additionally, the fund's approach to facilitating investor exits, such as through secondary sales or in-kind distributions, should be evaluated.

  • Governance and Reporting: As rolling funds operate across multiple investment vehicles, investors should understand the governance structure, decision-making processes, and reporting mechanisms. Clear communication and transparency from the fund manager regarding investment activities, performance, and any changes to the fund's strategy or terms will be crucial for investors to effectively monitor their investments.

  • Tax and Regulatory Considerations: Rolling funds may have unique tax and regulatory implications depending on the jurisdiction and structure of the fund. Investors should consult with tax and legal professionals to understand the potential tax consequences and ensure compliance with applicable regulations.

As the investment landscape continues to evolve, rolling funds offer a compelling alternative for investors seeking a more flexible and dynamic approach to capital deployment. However, it's important for investors to carefully evaluate the specific terms, fees, and track record of any rolling fund they consider, as with any investment vehicle.

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