Nancy Zevenbergen isn’t a household name among mutual fund investors—though she should be. Zevenbergen Capital Investments, the Seattle-based firm she founded in 1987, runs three mutual funds, all of which rank in the top 1% or 2% of large growth funds.
The largest, the $1.4 billion Virtus Zevenbergen Innovative Growth Stock Fund (A: SAGAX, I: SCATX), has returned an average of 16.4% a year over the past 15 years—four percentage points a year more than the Russell 1000® Growth index, on average, and 5.5 percentage points more than its category; Virtus Investment Partners has a 20% stake in the firm. The $112 million Zevenbergen Growth (ZVNBX) and its more concentrated sibling, the $167 million Zevenbergen Genea fund (ZVGNX), have equally impressive track records.
Much of that outperformance has come in the past several years as longtime holdings, including Tesla (TSLA), Shopify (SHOP), and MercadoLibre (MELI) have taken flight—giving credence to Zevenbergen’s long-held investment philosophy. The best way to build wealth, she says, is to invest in founder-led firms early, stick with a concentrated portfolio, and hang on even when the road gets bumpy. “People underestimate the length and duration of these really exceptional growth companies,” she says.
Zevenbergen spoke with Barron’s about founder-led firms, the lack of women leading technology firms, and what she’s excited about now.
Photograph by Kyle Johnson; used with permission.
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