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The Elusive $1 Billion Fund That’s Rattled Venture Capital

Ellie Cachette said she had money to give venture capitalists, and many were eager to go into business with her. The deals didn't go exactly as planned.

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Illustration: Joseph P. Kelly

It’s always nice to get invited to a party. Especially when the host is planning to hand out $1 billion. It was an odd place for the event—a hotel bar in The Hague, a Dutch city of bureaucrats and home to the International Criminal Court. Still, the 50-or-so attendees looked past the unconventional locale and the lack of polish and mingled among silver balloons, waiting to hear from Ellie Cachette, the woman with all the money.

Many of those gathered on that Friday night in June of last year were venture capitalists who had been promised backing from Cachette Capital, a fund of funds -- an investment company that places clients’ money with other investment firms, charging a fee along the way. Others hoped to curry favor with Cachette. They had flown in from New York and London to find out more about someone they knew hardly anything about. And there was the hope of meeting Cachette’s own backers, including pension funds with trillions under management, and Howard Morgan, former hedge fund manager, renowned venture capitalist and the highest-profile investor in Cachette Capital.

But the party-goers would leave disappointed. They were drinking white wine when news trickled through that Cachette wouldn’t be coming; she had an unavoidable meeting with a potential investor. It was a surprise to her own staff, and in the confusion Brodi Jackson, Cachette Capital’s head of investments, said a few words of thanks, offered an apology, and said they were looking forward to spending some of their $1 billion.