From the mid-90s to 2003, William T. O’Hara developed profiles of the world’s oldest family businesses for Family Business magazine. Given that most family businesses fail to last past a single generation, O’Hara, who founded the Family Enterprise Institute at Bryant College, wanted to discern the factors that made these longstays so, er, long staying.
The number one theme these businesses shared? Social networking for pets.
Just kidding! It was that they “satisfy basic human needs such as food, clothing, or shelter.”
Now that more than a decade has passed since the most recent edition came out, I thought it would be interesting to see what had become of the original top twenty.
Do you want the bad news first? Japanese temple maker Kongo Gumi, which was founded in 578, ceded its “World’s Oldest Family Business” mantle in 2006, when it succumbed to lack of people wanting to buy hand-crafted temples.
Here’s the good news: nineteen of the original twenty are still open, and eighteen are not in the middle of being sold (the 19th is the glorious French butterfly-filled estate, Château de Goulaine).
Alors, here’s the full 20, plus one for luck, and life.
1. Kongo Gumi
industry: temple building
Recent news: The End of a 1400 Year Old Business
O’Hara says: Prince Shotoku brought Kongo family members to Japan from Korea more than 1,400 years ago to build the Buddhist Shitennoji Temple, which still stands. Over the centuries, Kongo Gumi has participated in the construction of many famous buildings, including the 16th-century Osaka castle. Today the family continues to build and repair religious temples and manage general contracting from its Osaka headquarters. Current president is Toshitaka Kongo; his 51-year-old son, Masakazu Kongo, is waiting in the wings.
2. Hoshi Ryokan
O’Hara says: According to legend, the god of Mount Hakusan visited a Buddhist priest, telling him to uncover an underground hot spring in a nearby village. The hot spring was found, and the priest requested that his disciple, a woodcutter’s son named Garyo Saskiri, build and run a spa on the site. His family, known as Hoshi, have run a hotel in Komatsu ever since; the current structure houses 450 people in 100 rooms. Zengoro Hoshi is the current patriarch.
industry: wine production, event space, butterfly museum
O’Hara says: The castle, owned by the Goulaine family, houses a rare butterfly collection in addition to a museum. It hosts various functions, including weddings. Wine is available for sale at the castle’s vineyards.
4. Fonderia Pontificia Marinelli
industry: bell foundry
O’Hara says: Bell foundry founded in the small central Italian town of Agnone, high in the Appenine hills. Still uses the original wax techniques of its founders (a wax “false bell” is overlaid with the real thing); its bells toll in New York, Beijing, Jerusalem, South America and Korea, among other locations. Firm has 20 employees, including five members of the founding Marinelli family. Pasquale Marinelli is current managing director. A museum, opened in 1997, features the work of Pasquale’s brother, sculptor Ettore Marinelli.
industry: Wine production
O’Hara says: The Ricasoli barons were first given their land by the Republic of Florence; today their Brolio Estate covers about 3,600 acres. The family’s main focus is its wine production, although 26 acres of the estate are used for olive cultivation.
industry: glass making
O’Hara says: The Barovier family produces crystalline glass, mother-of-pearl glass and gold-free cornelian red on Murano Island, about a ten-minute ferry ride from Venice. The Baroviers merged with the Toso family, who were also glassmakers on Murano Island, in 1936.
O’Hara says: The Hotel Pilgrim Haus is operated by the Andernach family in the town of Soest, about 110 miles north of Frankfurt.
industry: paper making
O’Hara says: Richard de Bas has a longstanding reputation for high-quality papers, which has led to many high-profile jobs. The company has supplied paper for limited-edition works by Braque and Picasso. It also operates a museum.
O’Hara says: Jacopus Torrini moved to Florence from his native village of Scarperia to forge armor for Florentine knights. His workshop later evolved into a goldsmith, creating jewels and other precious objects. Perhaps the family’s most valued possession is its secretive and exclusive “Oro Nativo” manufacturing process, a method of working with gold while retaining its most natural color.
industry: wine production
Recent news: Wine in her veins
O’Hara says: The Antinori family has been in the wine business since Giovanni di Piero Antinori joined the Florentine Guild of Vintners more than 600 years ago. Marchese (or “Count”) Piero Antinori, and his three daughters currently oversee a system of vineyards in Italy, the U.S., Hungary, Malta and Chile that continue to be recognized by consumers and wine critics for their superior-quality Chiantis and other vintages. He sold 49% to British beer brewer Whitbred in 1983, later bought it back. The company has been housed in a Florentine palazzo since 1506.
industry: ship building
recent news: The construction of modern wooden superyachts
O’Hara says: The business began in Khanià, a Venetian port on the island of Crete. It was founded by a man locals called “Camuffi” but whose real name was El Ham Muftì. The family has supplied boats to Mohammed the Second, the Venetian Republic, Napoleon, the Asburg Imperial and the Royal Italian navies. Experts refer to a Camuffo boat as “the Stradivarius of the sea.”
industry: wine production
O’Hara says: When King Charles VIII began selling royal property in France to pay off some of his expenses, Pierre Raymond de Sarret bought the estate known as Coussergues. Today the vineyard produces a wide variety of wines, including Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, Viogniers, Cabernet Francs, Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons. The Sarret family sells 1.5 million bottles a year and has won numerous gold medals for its wines.
13. Grazia Deruta
O’Hara says: The company produces majolica, a special type of ceramic that pre-dates the 13th century. Current CEO Ubaldo Grazia has expanded the company’s business into the U.S. market and has produced three exclusive designs for Henri Bendel. Grazia has also done work for other major department stores and labels, such as Neiman-Marcus and Tiffany.
industry: gun manufacturer
recent news: Beretta Sued Over Elvis-Themed Ad Campaign
O’Hara says: Bartolomeo Beretta’s world-class gun-maker is now a Hollywood favorite; its guns appear in the James Bond series, among other films. Beretta’s reputation for quality craftsmanship enabled the company to wrest a $56 million U.S. armed forces contract away from competitor Colt Industries. Beretta is the weapon of choice of other law-enforcement agencies around the world, such as the Italian Carabinieri, French Gendarmes and Texas Rangers. The company also has earned distinction for its line of hunting weapons. Ugo Gussalli Beretta is the company’s current president.
industry: First a copper and brass manufacturing business, now a maker of mechanical fashion products
O’Hara says: Goldsmith Wilhelm Prym started a brass and copper manufacturing business in Aachen in 1530. In 1642, the Protestant Prym family lost its guild rights in the Catholic city of Aachen and moved to Stolberg. In the 19th century, Prym developed the first finished products made of brass, iron and steel and later manufactured the first metal haberdashery products to be made mechanically. Michael Prym (born 1943) and Axel Prym (born 1950) are among the current company managers.
country: United Kingdom
industry: First woolens, now an office space owner
recent news: Welcome to Inturfurn UK Ltd
O’Hara says: The company, founded by John Brooke, has provided fabrics for British troops (Battle of Trafalgar, World War II), French troops and Russian military personnel. In the 19th century it had 220 looms and 900 employees, down to 280 by 1969. Today it’s headed by Mark Brooke and his brother Massimo Brooke. Mark has changed the company’s focus within the past decade, abandoning manufacturing and instead creating an entrepreneurial development park in the firm’s old mill buildings.
industry: wine production
O’Hara says: Jaime Codorniu acquired the company in 1551, beginning centuries of family ownership. In 1976 King Juan Carlos I declared the Codorniu estate a national historic and artistic monument. The estate is visited by 200,000 people every year and produces about 60 million bottles of wine annually.
industry: wine production
recent news: As rare as gemstones
O’Hara says: Pierre Fonjallaz began the family business when he “devoted himself to the growing of the vine,” as the label on a bottle of Fonjallaz wine will tell you. The company is now headed by Patrick Fonjallaz.
industry: originally only glass making, now farming and forestry as well
recent news: Glass meets wood - exhibition of two factories
O’Hara says: The von Poschinger glassworks in Germany began in 1568 when Joachim Poschinger took ownership of a glass factory near Frauenau, near the Czech border. Today the business is divided into three areas—farming, forestry and glass works—though glassmaking is still the focal point of family business affairs.
20. Berenberg Bank
O’Hara says: One of the few remaining independently owned banks in Germany.
country: United Kingdom
recent news: Salisbury Cathedral - £1.0m
O’Hara says: Founder John Durtnell and his brother Brian built their first house in 1593. It still stands and is occupied to this day. The company, based in Kent, is extremely versatile; its projects have included the Royal Military Academy, Chartwell House (Winston Churchill’s home) and Buckingham Palace
Two recent posts, one by Harvard Business School Review's Walter Frick, the other by engineer Abe Starway, have attempted to tackle the ageism in Silicon Valley dispute with data. Walter wanted to find the average age of founders whose startups had a $1 billion or more valuation. Abe wanted to find the average age of founders at their first round raised. Both used the year of graduation as a proxy for age. Walter found that the average age at founding was 31, with a median of 30. Abe found that the average age at first round was 33.5, with a median of 2.
I wanted to find average founder age at investment by VC investor — do VCs exhibit particular age preferences? I took the twenty VCs from this year’s Midas List and the founders of their past three investments. To get the founder ages, I used Abe’s data when available (thanks, Abe!), year of graduation as per Linkedin, and good ole fashioned googling when the first two options didn’t pan out. Big caveat lector being that the graduation year-based estimate is only that — an estimate. I did try to use high school or bachelors’ graduation years, instead of grad school, as the latter is more varied.
Had enough methodology? Here’s what I found:
The average founder age for Midas investors in aggregate is 35.72, with an average spread of 12.13. The median founder age is 34.53, with a median spread of 10.67.
The investor with the highest average age is Douglas Leone: 46.3, with a spread of 8. The investor with the lowest average founder age is Ben Horowitz: 29.44 with a spread of 6. Only three investors, Leone, Paul Madera, and Scott Sandell, had average founder ages above forty. Twelve of the twenty investors had average founder ages of 35 or below
As for spreads, Fred Wilson had the highest: 24. Reid Hoffman and Peter Fenton had the lowest: 4.
And what about the whole ageism thing? I don’t have the data to say one way or another. Thinking logically, though, I’d image the best time to start a company would be before you have a family — preferably before you’re even thinking about having a family.
The full dataset is on github.
Since January 1, 2014, five brand new funds have filed Form D’s with the SEC that break the billion dollar barrier.
So who are they?
1. EMSO Ltd, $1.5Bn
The headest of honchos is EMSO Partners' EMSO Ltd fund. EMSO is the London-based hedge fund that Citibank sold off to its managers last fall. According to the March 27th SEC filing, EMSO has raised $1,519,769,617 from 259 investors. The offering is indefinite.
2. Andreessen Horowitz Fund IV, $1.5Bn
Numbers two and three are both megawatt venture capital firms, one big data-focused, the other more partial to consumer software. Andreessen’s fourth fund raised the same amount as its third, but Accel’s third fund more than tripled its previous fundraise.
3. Accel Growth Fund III, $1Bn
4. Carlyle Realty Partners VII, $1.3Bn
Carlyle’s seventh real estate fund has a target of $4 billion. So far, it has raised $1.13 billion, partially from big pension funds including PSERS, Texas County & District, and San Diego City Employees.
5. FourPoint Holdings, $1.01Bn
Colorado oil tycoon George Solich’s newest venture has nabbed $200 million in direct private equity and $800 million in term debt from EIG Global Energy Partners LLC and funds advised by GSO Capital Partners LP, according to the Denver Business Journal. Solich’s previous company, Cordillera Energy Partners, was acquired by Apache for $3.1 billion in 2012.
In terms of top funds by type, Venture Capital brings home the 2.957Bn dollar bacon, followed by Hedge Fund ($1.5), Real Estate ($1.13), and Oil & Gas ($1.01).
To connect with investors from Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Carlyle, and other firms, sign up for Trusted Insight.
We’re getting reports from a source close to the matter that influential investors are searching for Palo Alto/Redwood City/New York City-based broker-dealer and fund manager Vinay Kumar in conjunction with $60-100 million in missing funds.
Our source reports Mr. Kumar convinced top Bay Area investors to invest with KBR Capital Partners, Mr. Kumar’s most recent private equity firm. According to a August 2, 2013 cache of KBR’s website, Mr. Kumar’s “first two funds and other investments have over 100 million in assets under management” in distressed real estate assets, but we could not find SEC verification of this. KBR’s team page is currently unavailable, and the homepage states the site is under construction.
Given what we could find on Mr. Kumar, we’re curious as to the reasoning behind the decision to invest with him.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the search as it unfolds.
Already, 2014 has produced a bumper crop of tech IPOs both profitable (Varonis, Rubicon Project, Coupons.com) and depressing (King Digital Entertainment). But the real money’s been in acquisitions, with the top three netting 6 investors a $4.5 billion ROI.
Let’s take a look at the big three, starting with the biggest:
Since peak venture capital funding in 2006, LPs have been steadily migrating from the asset class or reducing their allocations. 2013 was the slowest year for VC fundraising since 2010, with a total of $16.7 billion raised from 185 funds. However, the exit market has improved over the past two quarters, which may renew VC’s appeal.
Who’s biting so far? New York State Teachers’ Retirement System leads the pack, with $133mn invested in four funds—FirstMark Capital III, General Catalyst VII, Lightspeed Venture Partners X, and Lightspeed Venture Partners Select Fund I. The Teachers Retirement System of Illinois follows, with $130 million invested in Union Grove Venture Partners and Lightspeed’s Venture Partners X and Venture Partners Select.
To get the full dataset, and to connect with LPs and GPs including those mentioned above, check out our premium memberships.
2013 was a good — heck, maybe even a great — year for venture capital firms and their institutional investors. Which: thank heavens, because the preceding years? Not so great. Not so great to the tune of CalPERS deciding to slash the VC allocation of its PE portfolio from 7% to 1%. Not so great to the tune of the Ewing Maria Kauffman Foundation declaring, in its 20 year VC report that LPs “invest too much capital in underperforming venture capital funds on frequently mis-aligned terms.”
But yes, 2013: rosy. And 2014 has been pretty good to some, particularly Sequoia, KPCB, Shasta, Spark Capital, and Matrix Partners, all of whom saw big returns from relatively small investments in Whatsapp, Nest, and Oculus Rift.
So which firms have seized on the rosiness as a way of attracting public pension LPs?
The top dog of 2014 is Union Grove Venture Partners, which received $100 million from the Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois. At its heels is Lightspeed Ventures, which landed $30 million from TRS and $60 million from the New York State Teachers Retirement System.
Here’s the network graph breakdown:
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Investors: have you ever wished you could invest in a manager, rather than a specific fund? Managers: have you ever wished you could quickly, pending permission, move a client’s allocation out of one fund and into another?
If your answer is yes, you may want to consider creating a Master Custody Agreement. I recently spoke with two of its masterminds, San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association (SBCERA) Senior Investment Officer James Perry and Foley & Lardner partner Tom Hickey.
What are MCAs, and how did the idea for them come about?
Tom Hickey: This was a concept SBCERA had. SBCERA has had a number of innovative ideas. This one came about in late spring of 2012 — Don Pierce (SBCERA’s CIO) and James came up with it. They had existing relationships with managers, and were getting stymied because they didn’t have the ability to move one commitment to another strategy in the manager’s portfolio.
Basically they want to move money in fund A to fund B without an RFP. So I asked managers: would anybody be willing to place legal umbrella over any fund that my client might want to invest in?
I want to say: all the credit belongs to SBCERA. I designed the legal structure, but James and Don put together the investment strategy.
James Perry: We wanted to create relationship-based accounts. We wanted to create a structure that would allow for relationship-based pricing, give the manager more flexible capital, and drive down our cost structure.
The objective is to create strategic partnerships and broaden relationships. Basically, we’ve created an umbrella; everything falls under the MCA. We may be paying a higher fee, but we’re also getting recommendations from the manager on a variety of funds and directs.
What goes into creating an MCA?
James: You have to approach these as building a relationship. We look into everything we want to tap into before we create an MCA — it’s not a quick and easy process. They are evergreen, with 3-5 years of capital commitment.
For investors who are more interested in a single fund, these don’t make sense. They are truly strategic partnerships; they are not all one way.
Tom: The concept has to come from the client.
What has the reception been from managers?
Tom: The number of inquiries is huge, all these managers saying we want to sell this to clients.
Are you looking to add more MCAs? How many do you have now?
James: Our goal is twelve. We’re looking at larger managers with broad capabilities, as well as certain smaller managers with niche capabilities — emerging markets, both equities and debt. We’re trying to invest in an intelligence network. We want to get our total portfolio down to four dozen, twelve of which will be MCA. We have eight now, and we are closing on the other four.
Would you consider investing via a MCA? Chime in here!