The best-performing venture capital firms such as Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which backed Twitter and Google, are stalking MBA talent.
As more capital has flowed into funds, spurred by the tech boom, and record VC exits from the likes of WhatsApp, GoPro, or Oculus VR have picked up pace, VC firms are hiring for everything from deal making to portfolio firm management.
“There are opportunities across the investing spectrum — from sourcing to deal execution to portfolio management,” says Dylan Pearce, a principal at Greycroft Partners in Los Angeles, where 80% of investing professionals have an MBA.
Tom Sabel, associate director and career advisor at Stanford’s business school, says: “Last summer there were a record number of our MBAs working in venture capital.”
But firms warn that it takes time to acquire the skill-set needed to be successful at a top fund.
Jason Heltzer, a partner at Origin Ventures in Chicago, says the best venture capitalists tend to be those that apply a broad set of experiences to each situation effectively.
“People tend to enter the industry later in their careers,” adds Jason, who is also an assistant professor at Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Todd Carson, senior associate director for Wharton MBA career management, says recruitment is sometimes “a longer-term goal for our students” who want to work in venture capital.
And while firms are hiring, competition for snagging a coveted spot is more intense, says Rhonda Shrader, director of entrepreneurship at Haas School in California.
But, she says from a state which is home to a plethora of high-profile VC firms, such as Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners, the “density of VCs here offers a higher probability of a good match”.
Competition has not dampened demand, as the sector continues to grow: $77 billion of venture capital flowed into companies in the US last year, according to PitchBook — a threefold increase over the past decade.
“It’s been a strong market for liquidity events in the VC space over the past few years,” says Ben Thomason, sector director for finance at Duke Fuqua’s Career Management Center. “These high-profile opportunities generate headlines and can provide meaningful wealth creation for the professionals involved.”
The risky but lucrative business of betting on the next Facebook is tempting business school graduates away from other areas of finance.
“There has been some shift to the buy side from the sell side,” says Regina Resnick, associate dean for careers at New York’s Columbia Business School. “A number of hedge funds, traditional mutual funds, investment managers, PE [private equity] and VC firms recruit at the school.”
Martin Zhu, director of the MBA at Beijing’s CKGSB, says: “A rising proportion of them [MBAs] now want to work in private equity [and] venture capital….rather than the more traditional MBA-recruiting companies.”