"Don't start a hedge fund with your childhood friends," says Julius Wang, managing director of Samena Capital in Hong Kong. "Start with people you know, but you're going to have to make business decisions that don't coincide with a personal relationship. Friendships and business don't always match."
Julius Wang set up the $75 million Vision Angel Fund in 2007, and that fund transferred to Samena Capital in 2009 where the fund is now known as the Samena Angel Fund (and now has assets of $80 million). Samena Capital bought the management company that came along with the seeding fund, and Vision took a convertible bond in Samena Capital. Jerry Wang became a member of the Samena board.
Samena Angel Fund 2 is coming later this year, targeting $75 million in assets.
The first fund features Phalanx Capital (up 110.6% since inception), Weru Capital (up 20.8% since inception), and Asia Bond Fund (started in April 2010). The Samena Angel Fund is up overall by a net 14% since being established.
Julius Wang sees several hundred potential fund managers a year, and seeds just a handful.
So, if he sees a manager and asks, "Are you in this for the money?", and they reply, "uh, yeah", is that a good answer or a bad answer?
"Good answer -- but there's a difference between people who want to make money in a hurry, and people who are long-term greedy," he says. "Nobody's ever going to tell you they just want to get rich quick -- you have to find out for yourself. Ten interviews is a minimum. A seeding involves twice to three times as much due diligence as a fund-of-hedge-funds investment."
With the scarcity of hedge-fund capital, there's no stigma in using a seeder to grow assets from $10 million from friends/family and personal wealth up to something approaching a more respectable $50 million pot.
Potential seed investees tell seeders with a consistent voice that they'd like to be under a seeder's umbrella; all saying that they really like the seeder and it adds another level of credibility.
Any other tips from Julius Wang that might encourage him to dip into his new fund to seed you?
"Be super-focused. It sounds obvious, but those who have a trading bent see multiple opportunities and are attracted to them, that's where style drift starts. It's not as easy being focused as it sounds."
Is this a vote of confidence for the ultra-obsessive, non-stop portfolio-checking type of hedge-fund manager? Not exactly.
"The corollary of being focused is that if you're too focused, you might only be good for running a portfolio, but to build that business, you have to have someone else with complementary social skill-sets to go out and raise the money."
This means that one partner's raging Yang will set off against the other partner's motherly dark Yin. A harmonious combination for a perfect hedge-fund marriage (but just keep your hands off each other).