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A Day in the Life: Venture Capital Firm, General Partner

6:00 a.m.: Wake up and immediately check for e-mails that have arrived overnight. While doing so, I multi-task between getting ready for work and scanning the headlines on blogs and major newspapers, looking for venture capital–related stories, or articles on my portfolio companies, their competitors, or the VC industry.

7:00 a.m.: Being based in the Silicon Valley, I dial into a 7 a.m. board meeting for a New York-based company that’s in my portfolio. I’m also a director on the board. The company is looking for another stage of financing to help expand, but I’m not happy with its business plan. I’m worried that this company might not reap the kind of rewards first envisioned, so I 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 me some time to work out a plan.

8:30 a.m.: On the way into work, I make telephone calls to various angel investors who might want to come in on the deal. I also check my voicemail 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 I dial into another conference call, which I quickly put on speaker phone so that it gives me a bit more mobility in the office. The CEO of a portfolio company updates me on profit margins and new products, while at the same time I check e-mails. A message pops into my in-box from the CEO of the company I had a board meeting with earlier in the morning: the finance committee has approved the proposal for a co-investor. I 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 my eye from a hot tech company I’ve been reading about.

10:00 a.m.: I 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. I get some good info on 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 our firm’s offer without causing any excess risk. My forte has always been about spotting new talent, so a long session of crunching numbers isn’t exactly the way I wanted to spend the morning. But it also shows how much I can learn before noon, and what keeps the world of venture capital exciting.

11:30 a.m.: An analyst who reports to me holds a quick meeting to discuss early stage funding for a company that has so far shown some promise. The analyst has completed most of the due diligence and wants to set up a meeting, but I feel it might be a bit premature. I’ve got a working lunch set up for noon, and I’m crunched for time, so I tell him to come back to me later in the week with more details.

12:00 p.m.: I have lunch with two CEOs from companies in the firm’s portfolio. I’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 to feel that I’m trying to merge the two together, which wouldn’t be such a bad idea in reality. They agree to explore some opportunities, and I provide some suggestions on how to go about it. With work out of the way, we spend the balance of the lunch talking about current events, movies, and updates about our personal lives.

2:00 p.m.: Back in the office after lunch. I check 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 I 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 I just had lunch with. But, perhaps that gives my lunch partners even more incentive to work together.

3:00 p.m.: Meeting with a candidate to become CFO of one of the portfolio companies that I manage. This is among the best parts of the job because I get to meet new people, and hear their ideas about how to make one of our companies great. During some interviews I use the lulls to map out strategy for other ideas I 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 I 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 calls, looking for more funding calls to go over a proposed term sheet. I haven’t lined up all the specifics yet from the angel, but I assure the lawyer that the angel will agree to the deal terms (but, privately, I’m not so sure).

4:30 p.m.: I have some downtime before the next meeting, so I scan 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 my office, but I decide to put them off after a day packed full of conference calls.  This will give me 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 me and a few other general partners and analysts. The presentation isn’t the slickest I’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.: As I head home, I get an email from the angel investor I’ve been trying to get an agreement with all day. It’s decided to pull out of the deal. And, with California three hours ahead of time, I use the balance of the evening scrambling to find another angel. That old adage “win some, lose some” applies here, but also know I won more during the day than I lost.

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