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Jessica Mathews

A surprising number of lobbyists are pulling strings for Silicon Valley

(Credit: Getty Images)

You may be surprised how many people in your circle are lobbyists.

There’s Jen Kha, head of investor relations at Andreessen Horowitz. Or Nathan Urquhart, the president of Coatue, for example. Both are registered as lobbyists. So are three of the people on Bain Capital’s IR team. Apollo Management has nine registered lobbyists at the firm. General Atlantic, General Catalyst, and Insight Partners hire lobbyists, too.

It’s an interesting, but little-known compliance requirement that firms must adhere to if they are looking to fundraise from California pension plans. Since 2011, individuals who serve as placement agents for CalPERS or CalSTRS have been required to register as lobbyists and file disclosure reports, per state law. 

This is how I stumbled upon Andreessen Horowitz’s newfound intent to start working with California pension funds. A16z has historically steered clear of pension dollars in California—until this year. As I reported on Monday, a16z has raised $400 million from CalPERS for a new fund called “California Innovation Opportunities” and the firm is also currently pursuing investments from CalSTRS and the Regents of the University of California, the governing board of the university. (CalPERS confirmed the investment with me and said that it had brought in a16z as part of the new venture strategy it launched in 2022, meant to “diversify and enhance returns,” a spokesperson says. A spokesperson for the University of California said it had "not had any talks" with Andreessen about its fund and CalSTRS declined to comment.)

It’s an interesting move for a16z. There’s long been speculation that some firms, including a16z, have intentionally avoided California pension money due to the more stringent requirements they have to the public compared to other limited partners. State pension plans are considered public agencies, meaning that they are subject to freedom of information laws. The pension plans, therefore, report the performance figures of all of the GPs they back, among other things they may have to disclose when asked. It’s unclear exactly why a16z is just now turning to pension dollars for its new fund (a16z declined to comment), but the disclosures suggest that, prior to earlier this year, a16z for whatever reason didn’t think it was worth the trouble.

It’s that time of year again…Every year, we ask Term Sheet readers—a slew of VCs, founders, private equity investors, and bankers—to look into their crystal ball and tell us what the new year will hold for the private markets. Last year, you predicted that a venture capitalist would run for president (ding ding!) and that the IPO market would start to reopen in the second half of this year (sort of, but not really!). From crypto to private credit to fraud farms to bankruptcies, here’s what you said would happen in 2023. But what about this next year? I want to hear from you! Any Term Sheet reader can make a prediction for the 2024 Crystal Ball edition by sending me an email at the address below. Please make sure to include “Crystal Ball” in the subject line to make sure I don’t miss it.

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
Submit a deal for the Term Sheet newsletter here.

Joe Abrams curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.

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