In early March, it was reported that Tiger Global Management was looking to shed hundreds of millions of dollars in private equity on the secondary market. Fresh on the heels of regional bank failures, the news raised more than a few eyebrows.

Why did Tiger, known for its investments in early-stage technology companies, suddenly need so much capital? Were clients demanding distributions that stretched the New York City-based investment group too thin?

“Tiger could be unloading their stakes in VC [venture capital] holdings for a myriad of reasons,” said Jason Ray, founder and investment director of Zenith Wealth Partners, a fee-only investment management and financial planning firm in Philadelphia.

Liquidity, he explained, is always a concern in private markets. Tiger is unloading assets onto the private-equity secondary market, where both wealthy people and institutional investors can exchange assets among each other, instead of directly with the issuing company. This was presumably the only way to raise sufficient cash since jitters over volatility and a possible recession have caused public market IPOs to dwindle to a trickle. (There were 1,035 IPOs in 2021 and only 181 in 2022, according to This year through May 19, there were 65 IPOs, a decline of nearly 43% from a year earlier.)

“With large private companies holding off on public debuts, but private investors having the same timeline for liquidity [as they’ve always had], investors across the board may be forced to find liquidity in secondary markets,” said Ray. “This is not necessarily a loss of faith.”

Still, exactly why Tiger wanted or needed to generate so much cash is less clear. “Their investment time horizon may have changed for those holdings,” Ray theorized. “They may have seen material changes in opportunity set and the ways the VC funds are currently operating. This is a sour spot for Tiger, but they are still a behemoth money manager.”

With roughly $51 billion in assets under management at the start of this year, Tiger may not be the biggest player in its realm. But it’s certainly influential. Many of its competitors are headed by money managers who cut their teeth at Tiger—for instance, John Griffin of Blue Ridge Capital, Robert Pitts of Steadfast Capital, and Lee Ainslie of Maverick Capital—earning them the moniker “Tiger cubs.”

Nevertheless, this wasn’t the first “sour spot” for the tech-oriented firm. In 2022, its flagship long-short hedge fund lost 56% of its value, and its long-only fund plunged 67%, marking one of the firm’s worst annual performances since CEO Charles “Chase” Coleman III founded it as Tiger Technology in 2001. It was a sort of spinoff of Tiger Management Corp., a hedge fund launched in 1980 by Coleman’s mentor, Julian Robertson.

“2022 was a very challenging year for Tiger, and their disposition of assets [now] in this manner is likely more indicative of their efforts to rebalance their portfolio,” said Christopher Alan Zook, chairman and chief investment officer of CAZ Investments, an alternative investment firm in Houston. “It does not necessarily mean that investors have lost faith in Tiger or in startup investing in general.”

To be sure, Tiger has made other well-publicized adjustments in the past. Early on, it was heavily invested in rapid-growth Chinese startups such as Alibaba, the e-commerce and tech group. But last year it slashed its stakes in Chinese companies. It still invests a great deal in technology startups, however, and much of last year’s performance declines were attributed to the widespread tech selloff.

This April, though, Coleman told investors that tech shares had become “interesting again,” thanks in part to “new technology” such as AI.

“Startup investing is always volatile, and this cycle is no different than in the past,” said Zook. “[But] investors will continue to allocate to the sector in the hopes of owning the next Amazon.”

Of course, whether private equity investors shy away from Tiger now that it seems to be in a liquidity crunch remains to be seen. “I don't see this as a panic,” said Michelle Connell, president and CIO of Dallas-based Portia Capital Management. “I see it as a liquidity mismatch.”

Other technology-focused funds were selling chunks of their venture-capital holdings, too, she said, to “de-risk and focus on their core businesses” in light of economic uncertainty and the looming possibility of recession. Then again, she acknowledged, when a private investment firm has more redemption requests than it has cash available, it typically has to sell assets to generate enough cash. The more urgent the need, the “greater the potential haircut, or discount.” 

How great the problem, if indeed there is one, is anybody’s guess. Tiger’s Coleman hasn’t spoken to the press. But Ray at Zenith Wealth Partners allowed that this “could turn into a run-on-the-bank scenario for Tiger, if their investors have lost confidence.” It seems unlikely, he added, since private equity investors expect liquidity constraints and generally have long-term investment horizons.

More likely, said Ray, is that Tiger’s strategy is a “calculated response to changing market conditions. … This selloff may be better viewed as a rebalancing, a routine practice among investment managers to manage risk and align their portfolios with their broader investment strategy.”

On a bright note, Tiger’s desire to tap the secondary market highlights what can be bought there—or specifically, what bargains.

“We are excited about the secondary market,” said CAZ’s Zook. “We’re seeing tremendous opportunities to acquire high quality assets at material discounts.”

Shares of many startup companies are selling at discounts of more than 30% on the private secondary market, he said, compared to where they had been valued.

“We haven’t seen opportunities in the secondary market this compelling since the Great Financial Crisis,” said Zook.