Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Anonymous asked: How has it been being a career VC?

It has pluses and minuses.  

On the positive end:

  • I’m incredibly confident in my deal/transaction related skills. Being a career VC, I’ve seen hundreds of transactions by now, most of which with my nose closer to the docs and the cap table than even the lead VC or the CEO.  Only the lawyers are closer. This experience is paying dividends as I navigate thornier transactions on my own now.  
  • I think I’ve developed a pretty strong network, stronger than if I were in operations in a company.  My job involves meeting new people constantly, and 7 years of that leads to a interesting network of people across a variety of disciplines.
  • The mentorship/apprenticeship that comes with being a career VC is pretty good.  I’ve never had a good “manager” in this VC career path, but I’ve never felt I needed one either. But as an apprentice learning somewhat of a black art, I’m not sure there’s a better way to learn this skill set. The diversity of investors I’ve had the opportunity to learn from has been amazing.
  • I’ve been in the industry long enough to see certain movies play out to the same ending over-and-over again; such that I’m developing pattern recognition. Movies with titles like: “The over-promising, under-delivering biz dev deal with Big Co” or “The amazingly talented mythical 10x developer that was promoted to tech manager, who then had to leave the company because he/she couldn’t manage employees and didn’t like the optics of a demotion.”  
On the negative side:
  • I don’t MAKE anything.  Jerry Colonna said it best: Entrepreneurs are pie bakers and VCs are pie slicers.  I miss baking sometimes. I spent my morning today with my nose in API docs, so I get to scratch that itch once in awhile.
  • Many VCs have said this before me: it’s a surprisingly lonely job.  I see my partners on Mondays and part of Tuesday, but then the rest of the week, everyone on the team is traveling, including myself.  So, you meet people all day long, but you don’t see your co-workers much, which are the long-term relationship you build when working in operations.
  • I’m self-conscious about the fact that I can’t mentor a CEO on how to be a good operator.  I try to complement (not compliment) myself when I join a company’s board by encouraging the Founder(s) to add a recovering (or current) CEO as an independent director to the board.  I can help with strategy, BD, fund raising and in-bound corp dev, finance, and even some tech issues. I also really like playing “closer” to new employee recruiting. I suck at helping with day-to-day operations, org chart, managing employees career growth, and other related issues that an ex-CEO has mastered.

Notes

  1. thegongshow posted this