Luck Of The Irish: Shamrock Capital And The 146% IRR

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You can’t get lucky if you don’t take a gamble. That’s perhaps the best explanation for the standout success of Shamrock Capital Growth Fund III, a $400 million vehicle with an IRR so lofty you could be forgiven for thinking it a typo.

That figure: A shocking 146%, the highest IRR ever for any buyout or growth fund with at least $250 million in capital, according to the PitchBook Platform. A key investment: FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports company that walks the very profitable line between game of skill and game of chance.

Here’s a closer look at Shamrock Capital Advisors’ third fund (all metrics as of 1Q 2016):

Characteristically for Shamrock, nearly all of the companies the firm backed with the fund are in the media and communications spaces, including audiobook publisher Recorded Books and wireless infrastructure provider Mobilitie. The firm has already exited two investments from the fund: Learfield Communications, a media company focused on college sports sold to Providence Equity Partners in 2013, and MarketCast, a provider of entertainment data and analysis purchased by RLJ Equity Partners a year later.

The most significant portfolio addition, though, is FanDuel—which has since agreed to merge with rival DraftKings, even as both companies reportedly continue to raise funding.

Shamrock used its third fund to back FanDuel on two separate occasions. The first was in September 2014, when the firm acted as the lead investor on a $70 million Series D that valued FanDuel at just about $180 million. Then in June 2015, Shamrock participated in FanDuel’s $275 million Series E, which was led by KKR and valued the company at more than $1 billion—representing a nearly sixfold valuation increase in the span of just nine months.

Shamrock could be eyeing at least a partial exit from its daily fantasy cash cow with the agreed-upon DraftKings merger—assuming the deal goes through, as regulatory concerns still exist. Either way, it seems safe to assume the LPs behind Shamrock Capital Growth Fund III will walk away happy.

In fact, it’s clear they’ve already taken notice. In February 2016, nearly five years after Shamrock closed its stellar third fund, the firm wrapped up fundraising for its fourth vehicle with $700 million in capital commitments, representing a near doubling (or should we say Dublin?) in size. Shamrock said upon closing that “Fund IV had significant demand exceeding its $700 million hard-cap.”

Does FanDuel offer a game of luck or a game of skill? The same question could be asked of the startup industry as a whole. The answer, of course, is a bit of both—and for Shamrock, it’s all resulted in a rather large pot of gold.

PitchBook Platform users can view the full data on PE’s best-performing funds right here.

Article by Kevin Dowd, PitchBook

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