Who (now) owns Cash4Gold?

October 15, 2010, 6:20 PM UTC

In late 2008, Boston-area VC firms Highland Capital Partners and General Catalyst Partners pumped $40 million into a Florida company called Green Bullion Financial Services.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Let me rephrase:

In late 2008, Boston-area VC firms Highland Capital Partners and General Catalyst Partners pumped $40 million into the parent company of Cash4Gold.

But here’s the weird thing: Highland tells me that it’s no longer a shareholder in Green Bullion, but refuses to say how or when it exited. General Catalyst goes one step further, refusing to even say whether Green Bullion is still in its portfolio.

[Update: General Catalyst now confirms that it too has exited the investment, but declined to provide details. It cited a confidentiality agreement with Green Bullion.]

[Update II: One of General Catalyst’s limited partners emails to say that Green Bullion was still in the firm’s portfolio as of Q2, and had been written down nearly to zero.]

I’m used to VC firms declining to discuss new investments (stealth-mode, etc.) or fund-raising efforts (SEC restrictions). But it is highly unusual for them not to discuss (or even acknowledge) portfolio exits, even in uncomfortable situations like bankruptcies or equity washouts.

So if anyone out there knows what’s actually going on, I’d love to know.

This was an odd deal from the get-go, reading more like a dividend play than anything else.

Maybe there were troubles related to gold’s consistent march toward valuation infinity. That may sound counter-intuitive, but I recall someone once arguing that companies like Cash4Gold actually generate better margins at lower precious metal prices. Or perhaps the firms had a change of heart after a raft of consumer complaints.

Again, I’m at a loss …