Consumer and Creator
© EM 2024
2. The Social Shift
One of the first considerations in doing VC is you’re going to go through a social shift that will change the way you see and “use” people. This is going to have a relatively large shift on how you see yourself and people see you. And if you make fun of this section, you’re in denial that this happens.
Part of the job is keeping up to date on who is important and who isn’t anymore. This is what I’ve been told is “reprioritizing” where you are and who you are with. There’s going to be a draw to go to social events and pretend like they are, in life, actually hard to get into. You’re going to be like “Damn, can’t believe I didn’t get invite to that Brex dinner or the FF happy hour.” I want to affirm that almost everyone goes through it. But, I want to remind you that these are social dynamics brought on by 1) capacity and budgets of companies that already blow enough money on CAC and 2) these aren’t real social validators for anything anymore - or at least have lost their luster since early 2022.
I’ll share the prime of what these dynamics were in a different chapter, but for now - I want to remind you that you do - have friends. And there are other parties I swear, since I know you’re a total dork for getting into a job you talk to technical kids all day and you’ll start getting hard for high-margin SaaS products, you cannot get into. This shouldn’t be the one that breaks the self-esteem bank.
I say that upfront because friendships are going to be the hardest thing to keep actually real as you become a professional, nerd socialite.
In advance, I think it’s important to let your friends and family know you’re about to become a total asshole for the first 6 months of learning how to do this job. And with all of the annoying animalistic comparisons your boss is going to throw at you, you’re going to try out new social dynamics you’ll become more comfortable with that no non-sociopathic person should ever be comfortable with. Again, it happens and you’ll return - but someone has to tell them.
Your new Friends
Congrats! You decided to try professional judgement as a profession - that’s exciting. In your pursuit to find things wrong about people, their dreams, and aspirations, you will find a few that actually make the cut.
The core group of Friends Freshmen year will be other Freshmen. Learning how to judge and how to navigate all of this together will bond you. Realizing that I haven’t written anything about Sophomore year is going to be an incredibly scary moment for you and your Friends, but I want for you to lean into exactly how each of these people got to being Freshmen.
As a reminder, this has nothing to do with age. Anyone can be a Freshman - if you’re a babyfaced Bay Area kid that went to a nonreligious private school that let you talk about feelings and institutional frameworks before they taught you about racism OR if you’re a 48 year old mom who is being forced to keep angel investing in your kid’s friends. Freshmen can be GPs (hopefully not, but life is giving you premade lemonade and you should take it) or interns. A Freshman is a Freshman.
And Freshmen need Friends.
Your Sophomore year, you’re going to realize Founders are better Friends — Operators even better.
But for now - you have been given criteria that The Partners want for you to find. You’re a little minx now. You’re going to have to get what you need otherwise (unless you have a Hall Pass) you’re going to get the axe.
Friends are going to get you what The Partners want. Deals? Clout? Twitter advice? These are all things Friends provide.
You have a boss. Even if you have a middle manager, most Partners at funds take some level of ownership to Juniors. Your actual boss is the Partner either assigned to you or the person you have to impress so that they pick you.
With that, you are going to become aware that this person, who you do not know, is your new everything. They have the keys to whatever you need and want to get while at this job. Even when you leave and go to a different job at a different fund - you are going to have a reputation with this person. You’ll get the question “Who did you work under?” when you say the fund name - and that name better be pretty good. And they better like you.
The have a thing called Deal Taste that you are going to spend the next year figuring out. If you have someone who has been consistent on what they like (and more importantly who) this part won’t be too hard.
But if they’re new to being able to call their own shots, you’re going to have to stay loose with them.
The who is important here because no matter what industry, hype, or revenue metric they throw at you - there will never, ever be anything more appealing to an early-stage investor - GP or not - than a Person they like. A Founder that spoke to their soul. A founder with such a perfect background, personality, likeness, that you see them and you say “this is it.”
You’re a Greek mother looking to pair his son. That’s the level of intuition you’re about to grow. Granted, I don’t care if you work at Insight and you just get reps in all day - you’re going to know when you see The One that will make Your Partner happy.
And that’s your job now - you make the Partner happy. If you find someone at a bar bathroom that fits the criteria Senior Ramp PM that focuses on KYP products about to start something new you are going to sober and pretend like that person is Hansel and you’re the creepy old woman with the candy. You add them on fucking every platform and invite them to your mom’s house for a home cooked meal. That’s what you do for Your Partner.
Also, Your Partner, they’ll probably think about you like once a week - and that’s in your 1:1. That’s fine. This is the dynamic you have to have to justify why you are fetching. It’s for The Partner.
The Other Partners
You might not feel this way, but even though Your Partner is the only person that matters - there are probably The Other Partners that you need to understand how to interact with. You need the face time. There are plenty examples of how The Other Partners can help you get what you need. Also - this is a perfect time to remind you - this is an unprofessional industry, but it’s still a Workplace. You have politics you have to navigate - whether you want to or not.
The reason why every fund has multiple Partners varies. Most of the time, they have either industry-specific expertise or they bought their way into a GP status (I’m not judging, it’s actually just how funds work a lot of the time - like literally. There’s a term called GP buy-in.)
No matter where you work and how many Partners you have - there is the opportunity that if you have a Deal, you can Shop The Deal.
Now, Shopping The Deal is a little slimy sometimes. Sometimes, it will mean going more
The Boss is The Managing Partner. You should, usually, try to never cross this persons path if you’re at a Shop.
If you’re not - there’s a chance Your Partner is also The Boss. That’s really chill and, congrats.
More likely than not - a lot of funds don’t have someone named as the Managing Partner. There are probably a few General Partners because Partnership is Partnership, or they just wanted the same lower amount of GP buy-in.
In that case - you should start to listen to who does what and when someone’s opinion is taken really seriously when. Like a marriage, everyone’s Partnership Boss Dynamic is different and it isn’t to say anyone is better than anyone else. It’s just the way the dynamics are done.