Home Venture Capital Exclusive: How to get (and keep) a VC job, with Bessemer partner...

Exclusive: How to get (and keep) a VC job, with Bessemer partner Jeremy Levine

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When you hear the word “apprentice,” what do you imagine? 

I imagine a medieval craftsperson, someone learning from a master carpenter or blacksmith in a European town that looks like Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Sure, it’s a fun image, but it’s also an arcane one—there are lots of jobs best learned by doing. That’s the thinking at Bessemer Venture Partners; that shadowing a VC is the best way to learn to be a VC. 

“Most firms have associates, that’s not uncommon, but what I think is unique and unusual here is that very few firms have associates with the intention and hope that they become partners in the future,” Bessemer partner Jeremy Levine told me, speaking exclusively to Fortune.

Levine—who rarely speaks to the press—has been at Bessemer since 2001 and was an investor in LinkedIn, Yelp, Pinterest, and Shopify. He also co-leads and founded Bessemer’s analyst apprenticeship program, annually sifting through thousands of applications for between two and four spots. How does he narrow down the pool? Levine is candid. 


“We’re admittedly a bit snooty in that I’m sure there are people who do poorly in college who can be great analysts, but there are enough people who do fantastically well that we have to start there,” he told me.

From there, existing analysts also get a say. And what everyone’s looking for is more or less the same: independent thinking. 

“Independent thinking is just incredibly valuable,” Levine said. “You have to have enormous conviction in your ideas and your thoughts.”

There’s a practical reason for this—the goal is that, over time, apprentice analysts ultimately become partners, and Bessemer partners have a lot of agency. Partners don’t have to ask permission to invest in a company, they just have to write a memo explaining why they are investing. Memos at Bessemer aren’t sales documents, they’re warts-and-all looks at a startup. No one will tell you no at Bessemer—but there are consequences to being too wrong, too often. 

“If you [as a partner] make a series of bad decisions, that’s the end,” said Levine. “We take away the checkbook and say, ‘Hey, this didn’t work out, you should find something else to do.’”

You won’t get fired from Bessemer, so much as politely asked to leave. And the goal of the program is to prepare would-be investors to thrive in high-stakes environments.

The apprenticeship program lasts for two years, and has minted several Bessemer partners, as well as now-VCs at other high-profile firms. Alums include Lightspeed’s Ravi Mhatre, Benchmark’s Sarah Tavel, General Catalyst’s Travor Oelschig, Andreessen Horowitz’s Kristina Shen and Chris Dixon, Accel’s Philippe Botteri, Norwest’s Lisa Wu, and SignalFire’s Chris Farmer. 

Levine did our Zoom interview from his New York desk, surrounded by the class of analysts he’s currently working with. Does he have any broader advice for anyone looking to get into VC?

“Figure out what you’re good at, what you love doing, and then accentuate that aggressively,” he told me. “Don’t try to be good at the things that you see other people doing really well, where you know you’ll just never be great at that. It’s sort of painful to do that…You can play whichever version of the game you want to play. Just make sure that you have the skills and desires to play that version of the game.”

See you tomorrow,

Allie Garfinkle
Twitter:
@agarfinks
Email: alexandra.garfinkle@fortune.com
Submit a deal for the Term Sheet newsletter here.

Correction: The online version of yesterday’s newsletter has been corrected to reflect that Voyager Ventures raised $100 million for their second fund and first opportunity fund, not their first fund.

Joe Abrams curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.

VENTURE DEALS

Xensam, a Stockholm, Sweden-based provider of software asset management technology, raised $40 million in funding from Expedition Growth Capital

Ezra, a New York City-based provider of AI-powered full body cancer screening services, raised $21 million in funding. Healthier Capital and FirstMark Capital led the round and were joined by Allianz Life Ventures, the Schwazman family, and others. 

Thea Energy, a Princeton, N.J.-based company developing ways to commercialize fusion energy as a sustainable alternative, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Prelude Ventures led the round and was joined by 11.2 Capital, Anglo American, Hitachi Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, Mercator Partners, Orion Industrial Partners, and Starlight Ventures.

Headlight, a San Diego, Calif.-based mental health care provider, raised $18 million in funding from Matrix and EPIC Ventures.

Closinglock, an Austin, Texas-based fraud prevention technology provider for the real estate industry, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Headline VC led the round and was joined by LiveOak Ventures, RWT Horizons, and GTMfund

LimaCharlie, a Covina, Calif.-based security operations cloud platform, raised $10.2 million in Series A funding. Sands Capital led the round and was joined by CoFound Partners, Long Journey Ventures, Lytical Ventures, and others.

Upstash, a San Jose, Calif.-based serverless data platform, raised $10 million in Series A funding. a16z led the round and was joined by Earlybird and Mango Capital.

Glass Imaging, a Los Altos, Calif.-based developer of AI hardware designed to improve the quality of images taken on current or new cameras, raised $9.3 million in a seed extension. Google Ventures led the round and was joined by Future Ventures, Abstract Ventures, and LDV Capital

Perigon, an Austin, Texas-based AI-powered data and news curation company, raised $5 million in seed funding from LiveOak Ventures.

CAMB.AI, a Dubai, U.A.E.-based AI language translator and voice dub program, raised $4 million in seed funding. Courtside Ventures led the round and was joined by TRTL Ventures, Blue Star Innovation Partners, Ikemori Ventures, and Eisaburo Maeda

Neatleaf, a San Francisco-based developer of an autonomous robot designed to manage agricultural crops, raised $4 million in funding from AgFunder

Vocode, a San Francisco-based developer platform for conversational AI, raised $3.3 million in seed funding from Base10 Partners, Google Ventures, Gradient, Accel, Liquid2, and angel investors.

First Bite, a Redwood City, Calif.-based software platform for food manufacturers, raised $2 million in seed funding. Bread and Butter Ventures led the round and was joined by Leadout Capital and Pathbreaker Ventures.

DeepLook Medical, a New Haven, Conn.-based developer of AI-powered breast cancer detection technology, raised $1.7 million in seed funding from Connecticut Innovations, Tidal River, Angel Investor Forum, OKG Capital, Werth Ventures, and others.

PRIVATE EQUITY

Beamer, backed by Camber Partners, acquired Userflow, a San Francisco-based platform for building in-app tours, checklists, and surveys, for more than $60 million.

General Atlantic acquired a minority stake in Partners Capital Investment Group, a London, U.K.-based outsourced investment office. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Greater Sum Ventures acquired a majority stake in SOMA Global, a Tampa, Fla-based software provider for law enforcement, first responder, and operating software solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Hiline, backed by Red Iron Group, acquired Calculate, a NYC-based outsourced accounting and finance firm. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Mainsail Partners acquired a majority stake in Teamfront, a Austin, Texas-based provider of business management software, payments solutions, and services.

MidOcean Energy, backed by EIG, agreed to acquire a minority stake in Peru LNG, a San Isidro, Peru-based liquified natural gas company. Financial terms were not disclosed.  

Warburg Pincus acquired Bloomerang, an Indianapolis, Ind.-based software platform for donor, volunteer, and fundraising management. Financial terms were not disclosed.

IPOS

BBB Foods, a Mexico City, Mexico-based grocery store operator, now plans to raise up to $589.8 million in an offering of 33.7 million shares priced between $16.50 and $17.50. The company posted $2.4 billion in revenue for the year ending September 30, 2023. Quilvest Capital Partners and BBB Investments Group back the company.

Kyverna Therapeutics, an Emeryville, Calif.-based biotech company developing therapies for autoimmune diseases, raised $319 million in an offering of 14.5 million shares priced at $22. 

PEOPLE

AE Industrial Partners, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based private equity firm, promoted Chris Emerson to senior partner.

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