New Enterprise Associates in India The Agile International Venture Capital Firm
A swelling current account deficit, ballooning interest rates, and a plunging currency: These were just some of the worrisome trends in India that Krishna ‘Kittu’ Kolluri contemplated on his 20-hour return flight from Mumbai to Silicon Valley in September 2013. The U.S-based general partner co-leading India investments at New Enterprise Associates (NEA) reflected on how the American venture capital firm just 18 months earlier had set aside US$200 million of its US$2.6 billion world fund for investments in the sub-continent. Now Kolluri was mulling over whether to recommend changes to NEA’s India strategy at the VC firm’s quarterly general partner meeting in Washington, DC in October and the potential for missing out on lucrative investment opportunities in India if NEA played it too safe. This case closely examines how a venture capital firm creates and implements a strategy to invest outside the United States. It presents U.S. venture capital firm NEA’s response to globalization and a contracting U.S. venture capital industry via an innovative global fund strategy that emphasizes agility in investment decision-making across and within geographies and sectors. The case focuses specifically on NEA’s activities in India to illustrate the various elements of this strategy. It asks students to analyze the advantages and challenges of investing in an emerging market located half a world away both logistically and culturally, through a large, U.S.-based, multi-country venture fund. Students evaluate NEA’s global fund strategy and determine the best investment strategy to follow in India given the country’s deteriorating macro-economic situation at the time. They examine NEA’s decision-making processes, communication channels, and incentive systems for its India practice. They gain a deeper understanding of what a U.S. venture capital firm like NEA expects from portfolio companies in emerging markets and what those portfolio companies receive in return.
Students evaluate the pros and cons of NEA’s agile global fund strategy to address changes in the venture capital industry. They consider NEA’s strategic pivots in India in light of India’s rapidly evolving investment environment. They learn how NEA’s organizational structure affects investment decision-making, as well as communication and collaboration between India-based and U.S.-based general partners (GPs). They assess the incentive structure for maximizing returns from India and the merits of a global fund for portfolio companies.