A Day in the Life: Venture Capital General Partner
7:00 a.m.: Being based in the Silicon Valley, you dial into a 7 a.m. board meeting for a New York-based company that is in your portfolio. You also serve as a director on the board. The company is looking for another stage of financing to help expand, but the business plan has not advanced to the point which you would have liked it. Worried that this company might not reap the kind of rewards first envisioned, you suggest bringing on a co-lead investor to spread the risk. That doesn’t go over well with the board, but they send the idea to a special finance committee and give you some time to work out a plan.
8:30 a.m.: On the way into work, you roll telephone calls to various angel investors that might want to come in on the deal. You also use this time to check your voicemail before arriving into work, and dispatch analysts and other members of the firm to begin working on various projects.
9:00 a.m.: Arrive at work, and begin responding to voicemails as you dial into another conference call, which you quickly put on speaker phone so that it gives you a bit more mobility in the office. The CEO of a portfolio company gives you an update on profit margins and new products, while at the same time you pore over your e-mail. A note pops into your in-box from the CEO of the company you had a board meeting with earlier in the morning: the finance committee has approved the proposal for a co-investor. You send out a few more e-mails to the angels telling them that the deal is a go, hoping one of them will bite. Another e-mail is from a venture capital fund that wants help on a deal they are working on, and another one catches your eye from a hot Internet company you’ve been reading about.
10:00 a.m.: You attend a meeting of all the general partners at the venture capital firm to go over what was discussed in meetings held earlier in the morning with analysts. There are reports about new companies that might be good to take meetings with. Another general partner talks about how a rival VC firm muscled in on a deal, and is asking for ideas about how to sweeten your firm’s own offer without causing any excess risk. Your forte has always been about spotting new talent, so a long session of crunching numbers isn’t exactly the way you wanted to spend the morning. But it also shows how much you can learn before 10 a.m., and what keeps the world of venture capital exciting.
11:30 a.m.: An analyst that reports to you holds a quick meeting to discuss early-stage funding for a company that has so far shown some promising work. The analyst has completed most of the due diligence and wants to set up a meeting, but you feel it might be a bit premature. You’ve got a working lunch set up for noon, and crunched for time you tell him to come back to you later in the week with some more details.
12:00 p.m.: Two CEOs from companies in the firm’s portfolio agree to meet with you for lunch. You’ve had an idea for a while that both companies might want to share technology, maybe even team up on new products together. These two upstart companies have very similar cultures, and could make a blockbuster team if they cooperated. The CEOs seem hesitant that you’re trying to merge the two together, which wouldn’t be such a bad idea in your mind. They agree to explore some opportunities, and you give them some direction about how to go about it. With work out of the way, you spend the balance of the lunch talking about current events, film and updates about your personal lives.
2:00 p.m.: Rushing back into the office after lunch, you do the all too familiar check of e-mail and voicemail. The good news is that one of the angels confirmed they’ll provide the funding needed for the New York-based company you had a conference call with in the morning. The bad news is that an offer to acquire a company owned by another venture capital firm was turned down. The deal would have been a perfect fit for the company run by the CEO you just had lunch with. But, perhaps that gives your lunch partners even more incentive to work together.
3:00 p.m.: You meet with a candidate to become CFO of one of the portfolio companies that you manage. This is among the best parts of the job because you get to meet new people, and hear their ideas about how to make one of your companies great. During some interviews you use the lulls to map out strategy for other ideas you have. But, this one in particular is interesting--and the candidate seems to be simply perfect for the job. He’s also turning out to be an expert in an area where you see some opportunity to make more deals, and could even be a potential CEO sometime down the line.
4:00 p.m.: The chief counsel from the portfolio company looking for more funding calls to go over a proposed term sheet. The phone call was last minute, and mostly informational, as you haven’t lined up all the specifics yet from the angel. You assure the lawyer that the angel will agree to the deal terms, but you’re privately not sure.
4:30 p.m.: With some downtime before the next meeting, you again scan over the financial headlines, sift through some e-mails, and make a few personal calls. There’s a stack of due diligence reports about potential deals that seems to be piled high in the corner of your office, but you decide to put it off after a day packed full of conference calls. Perhaps some light reading on the weekend.
5:00 p.m.: The last meeting of the day could hold the most potential. The CEO of a tech company looking to score some financing presents his pitch to you and a few other general partners and analysts. The presentation wasn’t the slickest you’ve seen, but there’s no mistaking the facts. Profit margins are strong, new products are in the pipeline, and the company is already becoming somewhat of a darling in Silicon Valley media. There seems to be no hesitance in the eyes of anyone in the room.
6:00 p.m.: On the way home from the office, your Blackberry beeps. It is from the angel investor you’ve been trying to get an agreement with all day. They’ve decided to pull out of the deal. And, with California three hours ahead of time, you use the balance of the evening scrambling to find another angel. You realize that old adage "win some, lose some" applies, but also know you won more during the day than you lost.