What does it mean to be a partner in a venture capital firm?

It varies widely.

Most firms will have:

  • Managing Directors / Partners. They make the decisions, and often, control the “Management Company.” And control all the fees, which flow into the Management Company. The Management Company is often very tightly controlled, sometimes with only one owner / partner.
  • Non-Managing Directors / Partners. They may legally be general partners in the fund, and share a decent amount of the “carry” (profits), but may not be part of the Management Company or have explicit decision-making authority. Non-Managing Directors are rarely truly equal partners.
  • Non-General Partner “Partners”. Many firms have “partners” who are not actually general partners of the fund and firm. This title is essentially meaningless, although it suggests a seniority above “junior” status. Sometimes, they are partners in specialized funds carved out of the main fund, or in similar vehicles so they are “partners” but not legal general partners in the fund.
  • Venture Partner. Venture partners usually aren’t really partners at all, not really. They generally get some “carry” (profits) in deals they source, but not always. And if they are partners, it will often only be in a technical sense in special fund documents relating to the profits from their specific investments.

So boy it varies.

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Published on April 4, 2018

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