Is V-C for M-E?
March 26, 2011 1:20 PM   Subscribe

I am considering a job in Silicon Valley venture capital. I have a background in traditional East Coast banking. I am confident in all the technical issues, I understand the job well, and I like the partners. Help me understand VC culture so I can decide if I want the position and so I don't make an ass of myself.

I'm really just looking for basic "everybody knows this" kind of overview. What are the hours people expect? What is the dress code: with clients, without. How formal is the hierarchy? How are relationships between other VC firms, collegial or competitive? I have a quote for compensation, but nothing to compare it to. What do I need to know day one?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A previous VC-centered question on MeFi pointed me to Quora. You might want to poke around or ask over there - you'll find a lot more folks who interact with venture capital (although no anonymous posting, of course).
posted by deludingmyself at 2:14 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

The tier of the VC makes a huge difference in the answer to your question. Please memail if you want comments on the specific firm.
posted by rr at 2:14 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I work on Sand Hill Rd. I don't work for a VC firm, but I'm literally surrounded by them. rr is right: what tier they are and the kinds of things they focus on to fund make a big difference. This is based solely on what I see of the people who work at and visit the funds - their ages, genders, cars they drive, the way they dress. Some firms have visitors who always and only arrive wearing suits, and others only seem the attract the polo-shirt-and-dockers crowd.

delmoi is incorrect, unless that is the kind of VC you're looking at.
posted by rtha at 2:25 PM on March 26, 2011

I'm the person who suggested Quora. If you don't want to give your name there you can search the questions and answers without registering.
posted by dfriedman at 2:50 PM on March 26, 2011

Or you could, you know, use a fake facebook account attached to a one time use email address like I do.
posted by lesli212 at 3:27 PM on March 26, 2011

I spent 6 months as an EIR at a mid tier Bay Area VC and I've spent far too much time on the other side of the table pitching to VC's.

You don't give the job title that you're being hired for and that matters a lot. I also expect that the experience differs quite a bit from firm to firm.

Dress code is casual but smart, quality slacks/dockers and a dress shirt is standard. Just a bit upmarket from the typical engineer attire in the valley. Ties and suits are not normally seen in the office. probably a lot more casual than an east coast bank. There's a joke about blue shirts been a VC uniform :-).

The hours and flexibility depend a lot on job title. Associates are the entry level guys. They along with any of the support staff (clerical, CFO etc), spend most or almost all of their time in the office. The schedule seemed pretty much 8~5, certainly our office was pretty much empty by 6pm. That said, I've had associates from other firms email me at odd hours of the evening/night looking for stuff especially when a deal is close, so other places may keep more crazy hours. The next tier up Principles, VP's & Partners etc (titles don't always mean the same thing) keep much more flexible hours. They're usually only in the office once or twice a week (usually Monday is mandatory for everyone then perhaps another meeting or two at the office during the week). The rest of the week is offsite at portfolio company board meetings, pitch and diligence meetings from new prospects and networking etc. Often there's lots of social stuff, dinners etc in the evenings. I think most VC partners work pretty hard, but they're well rewarded.

There's definitely a hierarchy, some partners are more equal than others, then the partners and then on down to the associates. However, everyone is pretty civil to each other and I didn't see stuff like reserved parking spots or other status like things.

VC have to work with each other, they're co-invested in companies and everyone gets along. Of course things can get competitive when a couple of firms are chasing the same deal, but in general its pretty grown up behavior. Its really one big social network and the ability of partners to network with other firm is pretty important. Folks also worry a LOT about maintaining a good reputation with other firms, entrepreneurs and employees.

Good luck.
posted by Long Way To Go at 4:37 PM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

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