In baseball, nothing is quite as exciting as home run. Likewise, in venture capital investing, everyone dreams of a home run-type investment—investing in Facebook on the ground floor, for example.
But in venture capital, as well as in baseball, consistency matters. A skilled hitter who regularly produces base hits can be more valuable than a home run slugger who strikes out frequently. It’s why baseball analysts and administrators developed the slugging percentage metric, as it measures overall production over the course of a season and even a career.
Womble Carlyle Director of Impact Strategies Mark Newberg proposes a similar metric for venture capital investing in a new Forbes article. Newberg’s Venture Slugging Percentage formula “could work the same way and utilize the same formula,” he said.
Baseball’s slugging percentage calculates the number of total bases (i.e. production) a batter earns divided by the number of at-bats (i.e. opportunities). The resulting slugging percentage gives a clearer picture of a batter’s value than simply the total number of home runs.
Newberg’s Venture Slugging Percentage utilizes the same approach, giving more weight to high-producing returns.
He said, “For the sake of argument let’s use a multiple. Let’s also agree that a home run is an exit that equates to a multiple of 5x or more—meaning the investors get a return of at least five times their investment. A triple is a 4x exit, a double is 3x, and a single is 2x. Anything less than that is an out.” This is the production number in the calculation.
Then, Newberg said, the Venture Slugging Percentage needs to define opportunities. “This is pretty simple. An at-bat is a portfolio company investment. If you have 10 companies in your portfolio, you have 10 at-bats,” he said.
One advantage of Newberg’s approach is that it tempers the impact of a single major success, such as the aforementioned Facebook investment. Just as grand slams don’t carry extra weight in baseball’s slugging percentage, Newberg said fund managers and investors shouldn’t be able to coast on a single big score. Instead, consistent, steady success should be the measure, he said.
In addition, Newberg said similar formulas could be used to measure progress toward meeting Impact investing (investments that achieve a social good along with a financial return) and diversity goals.