First Steps: Getting a Job
[How to land an investing job out of school]
[Generalize away from TCV-specific stuff]
This role has seen people come in from a lot of different backgrounds, whether it’s straight out of undergrad, consulting, or working at a tech company. Whatever your background, there are key things to be aware of both in terms of what TCV will and will not do for you as an analyst, and what it means to succeed in this role.
If you are successful in this role, you can establish for yourself a solid track record as an investor with the potential to progress within TCV, or to succeed elsewhere at some great firms. I start with this because that is the opportunity you have and that you should be aware of. The rest of this guide will be about what TCV expects from you, but as far as what you can expect from TCV, it is dependent on how proactive and thoughtful you are. If you are a passive sender-of-emails in this role, you will not have as much upward mobility or opportunity to progress.
There is no set path for a TCV analyst. In banking or consulting, there is a very well-worn path of people finding their way into associate roles at places like TCV. For an analyst, that path is much less well- defined. From day one, you have to hold yourself accountable for your own career trajectory. If you want to progress to become an associate at TCV, there is an entire curriculum of financial modeling and diligence that you will have to ensure that you get exposure to. As of April 2019, there is no formal program for you to learn those skills to progress to an associate and there is limited institutional support to get you those skills, so you have to proactively seek out the support of your associate and VP to learn those skills.
This guide doesn’t touch on any of those things, as necessary as they are to progress to an associate. Instead, this is focused on how to succeed in the core functions of a TCV analyst as currently constituted. The best way to earn the trust and buy-in of TCV as they help you progress in your career is to succeed in the core analyst role and work towards an associate skillset over time.
What TCV Expects From You
There are key characteristics that TCV expects of you in order for you to be successful, both implicitly and explicitly (they may or may not always tell you what they expect of you even if that criteria will be used to evaluate you.)
- Effective Organization
- Your main job is to manage a massive amount of information about a large amount of companies and industries and help translate that into effective action on the part of your whole team. TCV represents a formidable force, you can be the mechanism that points the arrow. Or you can be a 9 to 5er who doesn’t have much impact on what happens, but gets the job done. It’s up to
- “Managing Up”
- It’s not enough for you to have a decent handle on your own companies. You’ll be expected to support the sourcing efforts and company pipelines of your associate, VP, principal, and (to some extent in collaboration with your VP, your applicable )
- This extends beyond your associate and VP. You should constantly be looking for ways to make things better and to run more efficiently. Aaron, Chris, and the Sourcer team are always open to suggestions on how to make Sourcer a better product. Things like Trip Planning could always be run more smoothly. Be sure to share any creative ideas you have with anyone on how things might be a little bit
- This also includes working with the Gatekeepers to the senior team. Every partner and VP is completely dependent on their EA. You need to quickly identify who the EA is who works with your VP and get to know them very well and how they like to be included in things. If you’re working with a company that wants to meet with your VP, how do you include their EA to help with scheduling?
- Industry Expertise
- You will be expected to be able to speak intelligently to a number of different verticals of technology deeply enough that you can carry on an effective conversation with a CEO as well as offer insights to your associate and VP in terms of how interesting a business is within a specific
- Creative Sourcing
- Flagging companies and sending emails is not enough. You have to think of this job as a coordinated sales effort where you have to find creative ways to break into a
- I once had an artemis (bootstrapped) hospitality software business that was unresponsive to emails from myself, my associate, and my VP. I attempted to contact them at multiple conferences with no success. At one conference, their sales rep was giving out free swag at a booth and I got a hat. I wore that hat to a baseball game, took a picture, and sent it to the CEO, commenting on how much I liked it. He responded and offered a meeting.
- I had another business where the CEO had never engaged. I always met him at conferences but he was unreceptive and cold. I continued to check in at every conference and send him emails each month with things I felt were interesting to him and his business. At one conference, I saw a Jeep with an LED screen sporting his logo. I took a picture, sent it to him as a compliment. He responded “come see me at my booth” and let me into the “inner sanctum.”
- Robust Professional Network
- Having a robust network of industry execs (CEOs, COOs, etc.) can be helpful in creative sourcing (e.g. always add on LinkedIn every CEO you talk to, even if the business isn’t interesting, you never know when they will be connected to the CEO of the most interesting business you’ve ever found).
- Also, having a strong network of other VCs and investors can be useful (1) to get information on their portfolio companies and (2) to get information on deals that they do. This is often a network you have to manage and curate, sometimes sending them deals that we pass on as too early in order to gain their favor
- Axios Pro Rata
- Fortune Term Sheet
- 451 Research
- Exponential View by Azheem Azhar
- Ben Thompson, Stratechery
- Bill Gates, Gates Notes
- Brad Feld, Feld Notes
- Circle of Competence
- Verdad Advisors, Dan Rasmussen
- Axios Markets
- com (you can choose different verticals to follow)
- First Round Capital, First Round Review
- Fortune Data Sheet
- Fortune Eye on AI
- Farnam Street
- LAUNCH Ticker
- Accelerated by Justine & Olivia Moore
- PitchBook News
- PE Hub
- Sraman Mitra
- Robinhood Snacks
- Axios Media Trends
- Axios Future
- The SaaS Playbook
- Bay Area Tech Wire
- Google Alerts
- Sprout Social
- “Following” companies on LinkedIn
What Is Sourcing?
Understanding a “TCV” Deal
This is different for every team, every sector, every partner, etc. It’s not enough to have a static definition of a TCV deal. Our investments in businesses like Toast and Peloton are drastically different than our investments in EtQ and Rave.
There is no set-in-stone profile of a TCV business, it’s dependent on your VP’s preferences. As a result, there is an understanding of your VP that you have to develop, almost treating them like your customer if you were building a product. There is an element of “customer obsession” or “user centered design” that is required to get this understanding. Each quarter or so, you should have a sense of the different types of deals that your VP is interested in. These could be smaller check sizes in high growth businesses that may be over-priced for us surprisingly quickly, they could be large investment in sexy pre-IPO businesses that have already raised a significant amount, they could be in more salt-of-the-earth businesses that no one has ever heard of, but they’re the only game in town for their specific niche.
In my time at TCV, I’ve looked at everything from $17M in revenue, profitable, looking for a buyout, to $4M in revenue, massive burn, looking for a $100M+ round, to $50M and profitable looking for a minority investment. You can never dictate what is or isn’t interesting because there is no hard/fast rule for what is or isn’t interesting, so you have to constantly be level-setting with your VP to understand exactly what kinds of deals they’re excited about. Early on in your tenure, make those definitions more broad than they are specific. Initially, err on the side of bringing up too many companies than of being too worried to bring up anything. That way, you’ll develop a strong gut feeling for what people react positively to.
There is a ton of information out there about the companies and sectors you cover. The best way to manage it all is to control the channels through which you are exposed to that information.
Static news include various newsletters that can give you information about everything from recent fundraisings (these are important as we log those deals in Sourcer) to thematic / product developments that companies are making in general (e.g. observing market trends). These are much more passive sources of information that you just have to be selective about what you spend time reading. Each team
/ coverage area / industry may have different things that are uniquely useful to their team like HR tech reviews or payments blogs. Make sure to check with your team to get an understanding of the best resources for you to learn from. Below is a list of what I read each week:
A more proactive way of consuming news is creating online alerts specifically focused on companies that you’re actively tracking. This becomes more effective as you become more familiar with your pipeline.
Some resources for creating those alerts:
These alerts should change / get updated over time as your interest level in specific companies comes and goes. The best way to manage this is to effectively manage your Personal List (see section below) of top companies and always be updating the names of the companies you are running alerts for.
This is very much a job where you can get out as much if not more as the effort you put into it. The key is constantly understanding expectations and then working tirelessly to exceed them.