It’s not uncommon for good headhunters to get lured into becoming general partners at venture firms. After all, VC is a people business. In years past, several search honchos who worked with venture firms switched sides, including Tim Haley, from whom Carol Dressler bought her practice. Haley went on to become a VC at Institutional Venture Partners and later co-founded Redpoint Ventures.
Then there is David Beirne, made famous in the book eBoys. He was a very successful recruiter at Ramsey/Beirne Associates before he joined Benchmark Capital as a partner in 1997.
Other popular recruiters who switched sides include Bill Unger, now a partner emeritus at Mayfield Fund, and Kathryn Gould, a founding partner and now a partner emeritus at Foundation Capital. Gould ran her own executive search firm for roughly a decade, beginning in the mid 1980s. She placed Kevin Fong at Mayfield in 1988.
Today’s recruiters appear to be less interested in switching sides. Dressler says she has been approached to join a venture firm on several occasions, but says she has no regrets given her “value add” as a seasoned recruiter today.
Jon Holman, a recruiter based in San Francisco, also says he has been offered multiple jobs by venture firms. “I considered it seriously, especially the first time, but I believe that the great venture capitalists should have some meaningful operating experience,” he says. “Also, I really, really like being in business for myself.”
Though Holman says that his net worth would be higher today if he’d joined a venture firm, he also says that he’s “doing just fine.” —Constance Loizos