Was Veeva a better VC deal than Twitter?

October 18, 2013, 12:42 AM UTC

FORTUNE — Yesterday I wrote about how Twitter’s earliest investors would more than double their entire funds on that one deal, assuming that the company goes public at a valuation similar to where it’s been trading on the private markets. But a company with much less sex appeal may actually have been the better venture capital investment.

That would be Veeva Systems (VEEV), a provider of cloud-based CRM and content management solutions for the life sciences industry. It went public yesterday at $20 per share, and has since doubled to close trading today at $41.60 per share.

Veeva’s only venture capital investors was Emergence Capital Partners, which invested a total of $6.5 million for more than a 31% ownership stake (including a $4 million Series B round in 2008 and a subsequent secondary purchase).

Emergence brought back around $10 million by selling 500,000 shares in the IPO, but held onto another 34.5 million shares that today are valued at around $1.44 billion. Once you do the basic math, that works out to around a 266x return on investment. It also would return Emergence’s second fund more than 7x over — pretty impressive, particularly given that the fund also included an early investment in Yammer, which was acquired by Microsoft (MSFT) for $1.2 billion.

RELATED: Veeva CEO: We were never going to delay IPO

More importantly, that may be a better return than what Twitter’s early backers will generate.

Using the $31 per share baseline, for example, Union Square Ventures’ current stake would be worth $863 million. But it also sold shares in a pair of secondary transactions (alongside Spark Capital), which likely generated a few hundred more million dollars (Twitter, for some reason, doesn’t disclose these sales in its IPO documents). So let’s be real generous and put the total value at $1.2 billion. Or, put another way, less than Emergence’s stake in Veeva. Moreover, USV — not to mention Spark Capital and Benchmark — invested more than $6.5 million in Twitter.

To be clear, both deals are going to be massive winners for their investors — and arguing one is better than the other is a lot like favoring a 160-meter mega yacht over a 155-meter mega yacht. Moreover, all of this is paper value until the VCs actually distribute shares (and that is amplified in Twitter’s case, since we don’t even have a public price yet).

But it felt worth noting that the deal that’s getting all of the attention may not actually be the best one out there.

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