Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the identical twins from Harvard who famously sued their former classmate Mark Zuckerberg for $140 million and received $65 million in their settlement with the Facebook CEO, recently broke ground on a venture capital firm called Winkelvoss Capital. To date, Winklevoss Capital has secured an office space in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan, and invested in two start-ups: Hukkster, a discount shopping site, and SumZero, a website that brings together money managers.
Although, at the moment, the Winklevoss brothers are the sole professionals at Winklevoss Capital, it’s likely that, given their deep pockets, the brothers will soon be looking for a few bright, young, ambitious venture capital analysts. And so, if working for the Winklevii (a term often used to refer to the twins) sounds intriguing, and you believe you have what it takes to keep up with a couple of former Olympians, then check out the below—an average day in the life of a venture capital analyst. (For best results, as you read, replace each mention of “the general partners”—bolded below, for your pleasure—with “the Winklevii.”)
A Day in the Life of a Venture Capital Analyst
6:00 a.m. Wake up and immediately check email for any overnight developments (messages from an entrepreneur, one of the general partners, etc.). Scan headlines (online) of The Wall Street Journal, New York Times DealBook, and various VC-related newsletters. Then download a podcast or two from a VC-specific site (such as Venture Capital Update) and listen on the way into the office.
7:00 a.m. Arrive in the office. Begin replying to emails. Take a more in-depth read of financial news, paying specific attention to major publications like The Journal and Financial Times. Also, read various trade publications, both online and in print, and the part of The Journal that covers your specific area of coverage. Take notes of new ideas and companies that might be a good candidate for a capital infusion.
8:00 a.m. With names of people and companies culled from the morning's research, do some online research and find contact details on them. Check your firm's internal database to see if someone else on your team (perhaps one of the general partners) has contacted the companies. Create files for the ones that hold potential, and send yourself an email as a reminder to call them during business hours.
9:00 a.m. Respond to emails and voicemails from the day before. People you’re communicating with are primarily entrepreneurs, other VCs, and personal acquaintances.
9:30 a.m. Attend morning staff meeting with the general partners. Here you'll give a quick run down on some interesting stories in the news that might impact the sector you cover. Also, this is an opportunity to gauge the general partners’ interest by providing the names of a few ideas or companies that might be looking for funding.
10:00 a.m. Attend a meeting with a group of entrepreneurs who want to make their pitch. You read the business plan for five minutes. The general partners sit in with you. You sit politely through the presentation and identify the three critical issues facing the company. During the question and answer phase, you think of how to politely extract more information about those three issues, all the while evaluating whether you would want to work with this team or not. In the end, you decide to make some calls to gather more information about the market, or a competitor, but you feel that there's a very low probability you would ever invest. You wish you could just kill the deal, but the management team is reasonable (though not great), the customer need they’ve identified may actually exist (you don't know firsthand, so you will need to call around), and you may learn something by taking it to the next step. Plus, in the back of your mind, you know the market for good deals is very competitive, and you don't want to reject a deal too quickly.
11:00 a.m. Phone the people who called during your meeting with the entrepreneurs and the general partners. These people include entrepreneurs, analysts, other VCs, and your lunch appointment. You find out from another VC that the company you almost invested in two months ago just got funded by a competing firm. You wonder if you made a mistake. You find out from an entrepreneur you were hoping to back that he wants his son to be a co-founder and owner of the firm. You abandon all hope. You learn from an analyst that a big telecom company has decided to stop its trial of a new technology because it doesn't work, which creates an opportunity for companies with an alternative solution. You happen to know about two small companies, one in Boston and one in Denver, which have alternative solutions. You make a note to yourself to call them to get a status report.
12:30 p.m. Lunch with a small business you’d reached out to a few months ago about their interest in receiving some venture capital. The company has already shopped their idea to a few other firms, and you're hoping to gauge their interest and hopefully woo them. This would be the final step before you arrange a meeting between the company and the general partners at your firm. Bringing in a hot new client is a major coup for any analyst—and they're interested.
2:00 p.m. Get back into the office and write up a report on the new company you just had lunch with, including all the relevant information, how much funding they are looking for and your analysis of the company's potential. Much of this legwork would have likely been done already as you built your relationship with this company. Once the report is complete, you forward it to the general partners and arrange a time for the company to come into the office.
3:00 p.m. You and the general partners meet with a portfolio company on a conference call. This is a company you helped bring to the firm and know well. Unfortunately, it is facing some challenges and you offer to screen executive recruiters to help find a new CFO for it. The general partners offer to talk to two M&A firms to get a first opinion about what might be done to sell the company over the next six months. At the end of the call, the general partners give you three names and numbers of recruiters, which you add to your own contacts.
4:30 p.m. You make due diligence calls for a potential investment you’ve been following for two months (and keeping the general partners abreast of). Last week, you called the company's customers and they seemed happy for the most part. Today, you’re calling the personal references of the management team. The idea is to get as much negative information as possible. You need to discover any potential character or personality flaws any member of the team may have. VC firms are “due diligence machines,” doing the hard work of making sure a company is what it says it is.
5:00 p.m. A conference call is scheduled with a company that the general partners have asked you to do research on. After about 30 minutes on the call, you've determined that it doesn’t fill the criteria your firm is looking for. However, once the CEO has explained his business plan, you begin to ask about competitors. During the course of the conversation, you find out about other companies that might fit the firm's criteria and have broadened your knowledge about the sector you cover.
5:30 p.m. You make calls to the West Coast. You also check your stocks and confirm dinner plans. You do some miscellaneous surfing on the web to gather some articles about the technology areas you cover. Tell the general partners you’re heading out for a work-related dinner.
7:00 p.m. Dinner with two other young VCs downtown. You talk mostly about life, sports, travel, and relationships, but also about the latest deals, business ideas, and recent successes. You find out that a competing firm just made 30 times their money on a deal you never saw. You also find out that a company you turned down which was invested in by someone else is about to go bankrupt. A train missed; a bullet dodged.
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