Revisiting my earlier stance that you shouldn't work in VC
Last summer I wrote a post called Don’t work in venture capital. It’s probably the most widely read/popular thing I’ve written on substack and among the most widely read/popular things I’ve put on the internet at all (it’s a low bar but still). 18 months later I still get people hitting me up about it and it still drives the bulk of new subscribers to 99% Derisible.
I suspect that that’s less to do with me specifically and more to do with the fact that venture has a certain arcane mystique. For better or for worse (usually for worse), everyone wants a piece but few people understand what it really means. Pulling back the curtain to talk some shit seems to have struck a nerve.
Now we (my firm, Tusk Ventures) are hiring an investor to join our team. You can check out the full job description here and the application here. But before anyone calls me a hypocrite or tries to score an easy dunk, I want to pull the curtain back again and explain why this opportunity is genuinely different. Even if you shouldn’t work in venture, you should work with me.
Go back and read it in full but, as a refresher, I laid out three basic points for why you shouldn’t (try to) work in venture in the original post:
It’s very hard to get a job in venture
Most of the jobs are not good
You won’t make as much money as you think you will
1) This is a straightforward process
We are hiring openly. There is a straightforward application. The target profile is clearly defined. There shouldn’t be any guesswork.
There is no requirement for schmoozing and networking to get ahead of a process. There is a link to an application that shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to fill out. I have no interest in wasting your time because the time it takes to read applications and screen applicants is my time.
That doesn’t mean you are likely to get hired (hopefully we’ll have tons and tons of great people apply) but it does mean you’re on an even playing field with everyone else.
2) This is a good job
We’re looking to hire someone to fill urgent needs for real work. We’re a small team, which means that while there’s more scut work to go around (for everyone) there’s also far fewer barriers to making a real impact and rising with the firm. We’re just not an old or big enough fund to have super well-defined roles and process. You get to have a hand in driving that by showing up and doing the work. There’s no swim lanes but the ones you define for yourself. And if you can do that, why would we want to let you move on?
My own career here is the best proof that I can offer. I started as an intern and stuck around because I contributed and had great mentorship. Now I’m a Principal and I have no interest in pulling up the ladder behind myself.
This is exactly the type of job I said you should go for if you’re going to go into venture:
IF you are going to work in venture, try to optimize for partner/fund rather than generic “venture capital.” As I’ve said, most jobs and funds are bad. The biggest brand name funds are functionally impossible to get hired at and working there is unlikely to be any better than what I’ve described above. I’d suggest going to a new fund where you stand a better shot at having upward mobility, economic upside (carry), and the ability to drive outcomes.
3) We’re doing well
VCs don’t generally get the cash comp you think they might. The real money is in the upside but most funds just don’t produce all that much. Venture capital is famous for following power laws whereby a very small fraction of investments (and by extension a small fraction of funds) produce most of the profits for the whole asset class. The average investor lags the public markets.
That’s one of the reasons funds almost never open up their books and talk about their numbers publicly. We did.
So what now
Not everyone is going to be a good fit for this job. Not everyone is going to get an interview. But everyone is going to get honest consideration and a fair shake. And whoever we do hire will have our commitment to create a positive, encouraging environment where you can really grow into yourself as an investor.
If you think you’re interested in the role, apply. If you know someone who might be, send this to them.
I wrote that I got so lucky in so many ways and that my experience is non-replicable that it doesn’t bear explanation. I am offering a chance to replicate it. I may be wrong about everything I’ve laid out but I’ve got skin in the game (in fact I’ve got my entire body in the game) backing it up.