Most venture capital funds have a fixed life of 10 years, with the possibility of a few years of extensions to allow for private companies still seeking liquidity. The investing cycle for most funds is generally three to five years, after which the focus is managing and making follow-on investments in an existing portfolio. This model was pioneered by successful funds in Silicon Valley through the 1980s to invest in technological trends broadly but only during their period of ascendance, and to cut exposure to management and marketing risks of any individual firm or its product.
In such a fund, the investors have a fixed commitment to the fund that is initially unfunded and subsequently "called down" by the venture capital fund over time as the fund makes its investments. There are substantial penalties for a limited partner (or investor) that fails to participate in a capital call.
It can take anywhere from a month or so to several years for venture capitalists to raise money from limited partners for their fund. At the time when all of the money has been raised, the fund is said to be closed, and the 10-year lifetime begins. Some funds have partial closes when one half (or some other amount) of the fund has been raised. "Vintage year" generally refers to the year in which the fund was closed and may serve as a means to stratify VC funds for comparison. This shows the difference between a venture capital fund management company and the venture capital funds managed by them.
From investors' point of view, funds can be: (1) traditional—where all the investors invest with equal terms; or (2) asymmetric—where different investors have different terms. Typically the asymmetry is seen in cases where there's a investor that has other interests such as tax income in case of public investors
Structure of the funds