What are the exit options for VCs that fail to make it in the VC industry?
There is probably no better business to fail at than to be a failing General Partner at a sizeable VC firm.
If you fail as an associate, principal, etc. … that’s just like any other job. But a little better. You’re managed out, although usually slowly and gracefully. If you aren’t going to make it as a non-GP, the beauty is, you’ll have 3–6–9 months to go find your next gig. That’s as graceful as it gets. They’ll tell you, “next year we won’t have a spot for you”.
But General Partners … boy you can fail slowly. VC’s contracts with their own investors (the LPs) last 10+ years (really 13 these days with extensions), and GPs usually fail slowly enough that they are GPs in at least two funds. Add a 3 year gap between funds, and that can be 16 years until you are no longer a General Partner at a VC fund, even if you are a terrible investor.
Of course, you have to do something right to get yourself into that position. But it’s a business where you make money fairly slowly, and also, fail rather slowly.