Netflix return policy is a big hit for VC firm

November 23, 2010, 11:28 PM UTC

Lots of talk about Netflix (NFLX) this week, due to its subscription price increases and CEO Reed Hastings being named Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year.

So I took a quick look at the company’s insiders, and noticed a lingering venture capital firm among the mutual funds. It’s Technology Crossover Ventures, whose current stake is worth just shy of $1 billion (based on Sept. 30 holdings).

TCV originally invested back in 1999, as part of a $15 million Series C round at a $60 million pre-money valuation. It then participated in two more VC financings, including a $50 million round in early 2000 that valued Netflix at around $240 million (again, pre-money). For context, Netflix has a current market cap in excess of $9.8 billion.

TCV invested a total of $55 million in the private financings, and then bought another $5.7 million worth of Netflix shares as part of the company’s IPO (at $15 per share). It later followed that up with $75 million of open-market purchases in the summer of 2006.

So we pull out our calculator, to find that TCV invested a total of $135.3 million in Netflix. Based on shares held at the end of September (multiplied by today’s price), its paper position is worth a whopping $960 million. And that doesn’t include at least $60 million worth of shares it has sold along the way (according to SEC filings).

Not necessarily in the top pantheon of VC returns from an IRR perspective, but clearly in the conversation when it comes to cash-on-cash returns…

Update: Commenter Josh (see below) is right. It appears that TCV disbursed approximately 2.57 million shares at the end of October. Assuming all of those shares were liquidated by TCV investors on October 29, the total value would have been approximately $446 million.