Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The University of Texas' endowment recently made its first fund commitment to Sequoia Capital, which is among the top-performing venture capital firms of all time.

Why it matters: It is the final coda to venture capital's fight to prevent disclosure of its funds' performance, which raged in courtrooms and newspapers during the early aughts.

The backstory: VC fund returns once were held in strict confidence between general partners and limited partners. But then, beginning in 2002, a series of media FOIA requests and at least one fat finger incident by someone at a California public pension began to erode the opacity.

  • Sequoia was the loudest firm in wanting to maintain confidentiality. It demanded that the University of Michigan's endowment leave its active LP roster, and vowed to never let it invest again, although Michigan later passed a shield law that largely kept such data under wraps. Sequoia's fund performance — plus that of Kleiner Perkins — also was the basis of a lawsuit brought by the San Jose Mercury News against the University of California Regents.
  • The University of Texas Investment Management Co. (UTIMCO) was the loudest limited partner in supporting disclosure of fund-level returns, in light of media insinuations that it had given sweetheart deals to some individuals affiliated with the school. Its disclosure efforts were boosted by then Texas AG John Cornyn (now a U.S. senator), and the accusations disintegrated in the sunlight.

At issue was venture capital's claim that fund performance was a trade secret, and that funds would be put at a competitive disadvantage if performance was disclosed.

  • There also were slippery slope concerns about how fund-level disclosures could evolve into portfolio-level disclosures.

Fast forward: Sequoia's fears were unfounded, as it has since tacitly acknowledged. Around a decade ago, it quietly re-added the University of Michigan to its LP roster, and subsequently brought the University of California back as well. No public pension has ever disclosed underlying portfolio company information.

  • But UTIMCO is the most notable, because it remains the gold standard of public LP transparency. Whereas UC Regents and many other public pensions report with an extended lag, UTIMCO is much more up-to-date, and enables disclosure requests via a dedicated web form.

The bottom line: Disclosure within alternative investments rarely leads to disaster, no matter how hard the industry fights to maintain its secrets.

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Axios-Ipsos poll: Fear of voting

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to worry about in-person voting — with nearly two in three seeing it as a large or moderate risk to their health — according to this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.

Trump: Coronavirus is “under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 18,288,573 — Total deaths: 693,805 — Total recoveries — 10,916,907Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 4,713,562 — Total deaths: 155,469 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Education — Fauci: Schools can reopen with safeguards, but those in virus hot spots should remain closed
  4. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  5. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
  6. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.