Succession is a major problem for many venture capital firms. Institutional investors, founders – even journalists – often become attached to individual members of a team, and when one of those individuals, especially a business co-founder, decides to hang up his crampons, it can be tricky. for the rest of the partnership if he has not done so. ‘not planned far enough in advance.
For its part, Emergence, a very successful corporate-focused venture capital firm, has been thinking about succession for at least a decade for many years, suggests Jason Green, who co-founded the firm with Gordon Ritter and Brian Jacobs at the winter 2002. While Jacobs formed a few years ago to co-found a seed fund called Moai Capital, Green said he was very focused on hiring the right young investors who Emergence said will lead. one day the company.
Of course, this planning seems to be paying off. Emergence’s institutional investors have collectively pledged $ 950 million in the company, which announced yesterday that it had closed two new funds. And they did so even though Green, who enjoyed the highest profile on the team, let them know he was ready to move on to new businesses. We spoke with Green about that decision and what he plans to do next, earlier this week. Our discussion has been edited for length and clarity.
TC: A lot of your peers are starting to quit their long-standing roles, but a lot stay. What was your motivation?
JG: Well, I’m not leaving; I would say that I am in the process of switching to another role. I am still a member of eight boards of directors and will actively participate in the mentorship. But that’s the sort of thing we planned for when we started the business. We wanted to build a lasting franchise and grow from the inside out and ultimately let the founders step aside and let the next generation take over. Gordon is obviously still fully engaged, but it was a good time [for me to do this]. The firm is in a very good position, and you know, for me personally, I’ve been doing this for 30 years and accomplished a lot – probably more than I expected, frankly – and I’m interested in having a other ways to move forward.
TC: What’s the plan?
JG: I started a family foundation that will do philanthropic work in a few areas of interest – climate change, ending mass incarceration, working on homelessness, working on educational opportunities for them. disadvantaged young people. I am also delighted to become LP in emerging funds managed by various managers. I have [invested in] half a dozen teams with African American leaders or women leaders or Latin leaders, but if our industry has made progress in the last 10 to 15 years, it is not enough.
When I think about how slow it is to hire someone and prepare them from the inside out – that’s usually the way we did in Emergence – the only way to really speed up [the creation of more] companies created and managed by diverse people likely to invest in various founders [it to actively help them] and it’s somewhere I think I can move the needle. I’ve been in three venture capital firms and started one from scratch, so for me in some ways I feel even more confident [in] coaching and mentoring other emerging managers than me.
TC: Has there been someone who left a company for whom you are modeling your move or with whom you consult when you leave Emergence?
JG: A guy who has been my mentor for many years is Russ Carson, who started [the private equity firm] Welsh, Carson, Anderson and Stowe. He kind of became a model of what I would like to do for the next phase of my career. He sits on the Boards of Rockefeller University and has funded charter schools and made a real impact in the community. I have a real interest in supporting the local community in the Bay Area, but I also think some of these [areas I’ll be focusing on ] have an almost global reach and are part of [leaving Emergence] it’s having the freedom to just be curious and learn things as you go, and then figure out where I can make a difference and have fun along the way.
TC: Did you and Gordon fight over who could bounce first?
JG: [Laughs.] Yeah, we’re about the same age. I think the difference is that I’ve been in the venture capital business for 30 years and have been in the venture capital industry for 15 years; he really started in the risk business with Emergence and I think he’s totally excited to stay totally in the game for the foreseeable future [whereas] I read to go from hunting to farming.
TC: You brought in new investors over time to ultimately lead Emergence. Any related advice for other businesses considering estate management?
JG: We hired someone every two years and we made the decision not to hire multiple people at the same level. We basically said, “Anyone we hire in this company can be long term successful here, and your job is to make other people around you successful.” This is the best way to ensure your own success. ‘And so there was this shared feeling of success and failure that I think we are institutionalizing in the business.
In many companies, it’s a bit more of a mentality to eat what you kill. I think in the venture capital industry it’s a bit out of place because there is so much luck in the business. You never know which partner will have that big home run. It may take 10 years to determine what the big wins have been [in a fund] So you’re going to judge someone on the basis of the deals they’ve made in the first two or three years of the business? So we tend to focus a lot more on the inputs than the outputs because the outputs are very variable and have a lot of uncertainty associated with them, but the inputs that you can control and, I mean, it’s a long-term play. It’s a marathon.
TC: What fun thing is going to pick up now that you might have more time?
JG: I try to spend as much time as possible with my kids, who are juniors and seniors in high school right now. They will be going to college soon and spending time with them is a priority for sure. Health and wellness are also important and something that tends to take a step back given how busy we are all so this will become more of a priority. But also just building up and spending time with great friends and hopefully having more opportunities to make great memories. I have no doubt that my plate will be full.