By David Speakman in Silicon Valley
Sharon Wienbar is a director at BA Venture Partners, the Silicon Valley-based venture capital fund for Bank of America.
06:15 Wake up, shower, coffee and breakfast. I’m a creature of morning habit and have my cereal, milk and newspaper almost every day, even with early meetings. My husband gets up earlier than me so he can swim before heading to the office.
07:00 I dial in to a conference call for an out-of-town board meeting. One of my partners is on the board at this company, but our fund usually assigns two partners to each deal. During this call I keep my phone on mute much of the time, as my children come down for breakfast and get ready for school. They’re usually pretty good at being quiet while Mommy’s on the phone, and I have mastered a silent smooch for a good morning greeting. They are off to school at 8am.
08:30 One of my portfolio companies has a board conference call later this morning to approve a new financing. That deal has some issues we need to resolve beforehand, so I first check in with my co-lead investor to make sure we’re thinking about those issues the same way. My next call is to the company counsel to check out how we would implement various different scenarios. Next call is to update the CEO on the investor status and next steps. She’s not happy about a potential delay, but understands and is glad for the head’s up. The company’s not on the ropes, so a few days isn’t a big deal. In the span of 30 minutes I have multiple phone calls with each angel separately and some all together to discuss how we’ll jointly fund our company.
09:30 Another conference call. The CEO gives a business update, which is encouraging. Our big new contract is producing revenue, and other contracts are moving through the pipeline. The board’s special finance committee has met and recommends the company accept the investor terms. The problem is that not all the investors have agreed to the term sheet, so the issue is moot for now. The call ends early, but we will have a follow-up call on Friday.
10:30 I have a couple of interesting calls in voicemail today. Another fund wants to syndicate (share investment in) a new deal they’ve been working on that’s in an area I’m particularly focused on, Internet advertising. Return that straight away, but get voicemail. Another call is from another different Internet advertising exec; he saw an article I wrote for CNET on adware and spyware (http://news.com.com/The spyware inferno/2010-1032_3-5307831.html), and wants to know if I’m interested to invest in his company. Hot dog! That marketing stuff really works when we get a deal in that we might not have otherwise seen. The third interesting call is from the company counsel for a deal I saw several months ago, a digital music device for consumers. She wants feedback on why we turned the deal down.
12:00 Off-cycle partner meeting (lunch is served): We normally have partner meetings on Mondays. This week our hardware team is racing to get a hot deal they’ve been working on for weeks. On Monday we thought the company expected term sheets from new investors in another week or so, but another VC pre-empted with an early term sheet Monday night. We now have to decide whether we want to approve an investment and submit our own term sheet in competition. The partner on point does a great job explaining to us how he wants to mitigate the risk—of course it won’t go away, that’s our job. But he has ideas for how to structure the financing to make it attractive to all parties: management, the inside investors, and us. Our partner has in mind what the company will eventually be worth, thus how much we can afford to pay to make a decent return. We all agree with his suggestions and vote to approve the deal. Now he has the hard job of negotiating with the insiders. My brain hurts from thinking in short intense bursts about a technology area far from my own expertise. But this is exactly what’s fun about venture capital: never a dull moment, always learning something new.
14:00 A partner at an out-of-town, early-stage fund has scheduled a call with me. He has a portfolio company with some interesting technology that hasn’t yet generated revenue. He wants to see if one of my portfolio companies, already well along in revenue, wants to buy his company to expand its scope. I listen to the other VC, but then tell him we’ve already considered the idea and want to pass.
14:30 More phone calls with the angel investors who have additional questions about future financing requirements, cash burn, and deal terms. I remind myself to never be an angel investor.
15:00 I take lots of meetings with folks looking for a job—these meetings can be either a real drag or fun and useful, and it’s hard to tell what you’ll get going in to a meeting. This afternoon’s meeting is with a fellow who’s been a serial interim CEO (turns around companies while the board is looking for a new full time CEO) who is looking for a ‘permanent’ CEO position. After the meeting I introduce him by email to a top recruiter who frequently works in our portfolio.
16:00 In between meetings I grab a quick call with company counsel for the deal doing the financing. The lawyer thinks we are fine with the terms I’ve outlined with the angels. He agrees to start drafting a new term sheet and company financing documents with these terms even though we don’t have official board approval yet. Next, I meet a real candidate for a real job, CFO in one of my portfolio companies. The company plans an IPO next year, so a rock solid CFO is a must. Luckily they already have a strong management team and are in a ‘hot’ space, so attracting talent with our best recruiter has been pretty easy. The fellow this afternoon has done it all: IPO’s, international M&A, spin-outs and spin-ins, built finance and infrastructure from the ground up. We spend most of our time discussing the company and his relevant expertise, but then segue to an open-ended discussion of the online music business—if they pay, do customers want to buy music or ‘stream’ it? Why does Apple keep gaining share? Will Yahoo! succeed with MusicMatch, their hot new acquisition?
17:00 I try again to return the call from the potential co-investor who wants to share his new deal opportunity in internet advertising, and this time I get him on the line. He describes the company and potential investment, and it sounds good. I agree to rearrange my schedule for the next day to make an hour’s drive out to the East Bay to visit this company. We want to move quickly.
17:30 I am usually home for dinner, but tonight I have a business engagement, so I call home to check on the kids, their day, their homework, etc. My husband will be home shortly, so I check in with our babysitter, then yack with each of my kids. They are waiting for their Halloween costumes, ordered off eBay, to arrive. ‘When will my Juliet costume come?’ takes up most of the conversation after we’ve reviewed the status of homework.
18:30 Working dinner with two CEO’s in my portfolio who should know each other but don’t. They’re each deeply experienced in their field (consumer marketing) and have even at times been CEO’s of nearly competitive companies, but they’ve never met. I offered to introduce them, so tonight I host a dinner for the three of us at Chez Spencer, an informal French restaurant in a ratty, but freeway-close part of San Francisco. The conversation ranges widely; these two brilliant, extroverted entrepreneurs deliver delicious dinner conversation, which I merely observe part of the evening. After sharing one hazelnut parfait amongst the three of us, we call it a night. One of the CEO’s leaves, and the other and I have a quick intense discussion on our top CFO candidate. Time to drive home to the ‘burbs.
21:30 First things first at home, I keep my regular promise to my girls to tuck each one in with a kiss. They sleep through the nuzzling, but I like it! My husband tells me about his day, and we chat about the rest of the week. After catching up, I do a quick pass at email. I reply to a few items and decide the rest can wait till tomorrow. To unwind for a bit before bed I read, first the newspaper, then a couple of magazine stories. My book club assignment will have to wait for the weekend.
For: eFinancial Careers