FAQ – New Layout

Are we a venture capital fund?

We are not a venture capital fund – at least, not in the traditional sense. We do not have limited partners, and we rarely make direct investments. Instead, we’ve built a robust portfolio of venture-backed equity using a unique “cashless” pledge mechanism. This model relies on the generous support of UCLA alumni, faculty, students, and friends, who pledge shares in venture-backed companies to the University. With the returns from this portfolio, we then support UCLA and its entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Though we are not a traditional venture capital fund, we actively support our portfolio companies – and the entrepreneurs behind them. After all, UCLA Ventures only succeeds if our portfolio companies succeed!

What is the relationship between UCLA and UCLA Ventures

UCLA Ventures is a fund of the UCLA Foundation (add link), a 501(c)(3). It has been affiliated with the University since its inception in 1999. It is housed under the office of Corporate Foundations and Research Relations (add link), within UCLA External Affairs.

What is UCLA Ventures?
We are a community of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who support each other, the university, and its entrepreneurial ecosystem.

UCLA Ventures, formerly the UCLA Venture Capital Fund, was formed in 1999 when a group of well-known venture capitalists and entrepreneurs partnered with UCLA to create the UCLA Venture Capital Fund. This fund sits in the UCLA Foundation, a 501(c)(3), and its proceeds are intended to impact UCLA and its entrepreneurial ecosystem. The UCLA Venture Capital Fund raised approximately $1 million in philanthropic donations and invested that money into startups associated with UCLA and its alumni.

Over the course of a few years, the tech bubble bursts, and many of the Fund's initial investments lost significant value, which lead UCLA Ventures to create the "Cashless Pledge" model, allowing entrepreneurs to pledge illiquid equity to UCLA.

Since the development of the cashless pledge mechanism, this group has grown to over 150 active entrepreneurs, investors, and other leaders.
Is UCLA Ventures a venture capital fund?
Not in the traditional sense. Our venture portfolio consists mostly of equity pledges.

Our structure is different in that we amass venture assets through a cashless pledge model - "Founder's Pledge", not through investments. And instead of raising money from limited partners (LPs), we earn money from the successful exits of pledged companies and from philanthropic donations from individuals passionate about making UCLA the destination for future entrepreneurs.

We are similar to a VC fund in that we are invested in your success. If you succeed, the university and its students benefit as well! To ensure that, we provide our members with resources and connections necessary for their success.
What is the relationship between UCLA and UCLA Ventures?
UCLA Ventures is a fund of the UCLA Foundation (add link), a 501(c)(3). It has been affiliated with the University since its inception in 1999. It is housed under the office of Corporate Foundations and Research Relations (add link), within UCLA External Affairs.
What is the Pledge?
The Pledge (add link) is a way for founders, investors and equity holders to show their support for UCLA and its entrepreneurial ecosystem by promising to transfer shares of your company to UCLA if and when there is a liquidity event or any other event that makes the stock freely tradable.

The pledge takes the form of a simple one page letter that asks for the pledge now, even though the shares are not transferred to UCLA Ventures until liquidity occurs.

We do not take any equity right away, we simply ask to you earmark a portion of your stake in the company's future success to the university via the cashless pledge mechanism.
Who can make a pledge?
Anyone who holds equity in a venture-backed company can make a pledge. Most of our group is affiliated with the university in some way, whether they’re students, alumni, or faculty, however, we are always looking to strengthen our network outside of UCLA.
Why make a pledge?
By pledging equity to the university, you are not only getting the satisfaction of making philanthropic goals an integral part of your business success, you are also joining an exclusive membership consisting of leading entrepreneurs and VCs from a wide variety of industries and sectors. Our carefully curated programming of dinners, events, and informal mixers provide the perfect opportunity for you to make vital connections with other leaders.

Many of our members have founded several successful startups and have decades of experience. With the help of this group and our institutional knowledge, UCLA Ventures can help you with recruitment, visibility, networking, and provide you access to UCLA resources.

There is also value beyond what you can give personally: your pledge will inspire others to pledge, helping create a movement of giving back in future generations of Bruins!
What is the minimum amount needed to pledge?
There is no minimum. Pledges range in size from $3,000 to $50,000 in equity. However, most of our members pledge, on average, $25,000 worth of equity.

The amount of the pledge can determine your level of membership and most members have pledged at the leadership levels to enjoy exclusive events and perks.

There are certain thresholds that can put you in a leadership position within UCLA Ventures.
How does UCLA Ventures value equity?
UCLA Ventures values equity based on the company's last round of financing. We are flexible and willing to accommodate other forms of valuation.
Do I need board or investor approval?
No! The pledge you are making is a commitment made on an individual basis. Your donation comes out of the personal proceeds you make upon your own exit.
What are the tax implications of the pledge?
All gifts to UCLA Ventures are 100% tax-deductible, subject to limits on your personal return. By deferring the actual donation until the time of liquidity, there are no tax implications when the pledge is made. However, when you transfer the shares to UCLA, you may be able to claim a more attractive charitable tax deduction based on the value at the time of the donation rather than the time of the pledge. Your gift will be valued on the average price (the mean between the highest and lowest selling prices) of the stock on the date of the gift. If you have additional questions, we can connect you with our gift planning experts.
What if I already had an exit?
The fund was originally sustained through cash donations. When we switched to the pledge mechanism, we kept the cash component to allow other entrepreneurs who don't have liquid shares to join UCLA Ventures. You make join UCLA Ventures via cash donation. Joining at certain levels can also make you eligible to be a part of other UCLA affiliated groups such as the UCLA Chancellor's Society.
What happens to the proceeds from liquidity events?
With the returns from our portfolio, we foster UCLA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. We do this through programming, volunteerism, and financial distributions to key initiatives on campus. In the past, UCLA Ventures has funded and supported student startups, fellowships, campus programming and most recently, Startup UCLA. Our financial support, which takes a variety of different forms, enhances the University and helps mold, encourage, and inspire the next generation of Bruin entrepreneurs.
If you're not making investments, are there other avenues for investment at UCLA?
There are various awards and venture capital competitions around campus, specifically for UCLA students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Can students join?
Absolutely! In fact, we've changed our membership structure for the purpose of making membership more accessible to students with startups. Our members -- many of whom are seasoned entrepreneurs and venture capitalists -- are actively seeking to mentor aspiring Bruin entrepreneurs through original programs, like the Summer Fellows Program, as well as through collaborations with campus-based partners. If you do not own equity in a company, there are other mechanism through which you can join, including the UCLA Ventures Summer Fellows Program.