Venture Capital/Opinion/

Dispatches from a London VC: Everyone is a partner

When the Partnership realised we had a diversity issue, they came up with a creative solution.

Oprah
Rosie Wood

By Rosie Wood

Rosie Wood is a (fictional) associate at the VC firm Mild Conviction. It’s a generalist, multistage fund with offices in London, Paris and Verbier. They’re not like normal VCs — they don’t need to do a tonne of due diligence to decide on an investment. Instead, they’re simply looking for companies and founders that are pretty good. Because pretty good is usually good enough. Catch up on her other dispatches here. 

Sorry I’ve been a bit rubbish at writing recently: we’ve been preparing for our AGM — and it has been a rollercoaster

When we got wind of what the budget for the event was, we were all buzzing. Sure, the main purpose of the event is to update LPs on our performance and show off some of our incredible investments. But it’s also an excuse to have a big party. 

We’ve booked a block of rooms at Chiltern Firehouse for LPs who want to stay over and are planning the actual event in an as-yet-unannounced Mayfair members’ club. There will be moderation from 16-year-old TikTok VC influencer Harold Steblings and a goodie bag to rival the Oscars: cryotherapy at a Harley Street clinic, 100k miles of carbon offsetting for your private jet, early access to the UK’s Royal Mint NFT and, of course, a Chilly’s Mild Conviction water bottle. 

Planning seemed to be going well until the partners were all pulled into a big meeting late one evening last week, and the team was asked to halt work on the AGM. The atmosphere was tense. The other associate Fred and I ordered Deliveroo and pretended to work on research for our sanctiontech thesis. 

“Rupert addressed us passionately, shaking his iPhone in one hand. I wondered if he had the same level of excitement back when he was building a dog furniture unicorn”

I learned what all the fuss was about from our managing partner’s PA. Supposedly, one of our anchor LPs had told the partnership that they wanted the AGM to include an update on our diversity strategy and statistics. Given that I’m the only woman on the investment team right now (I’ve ascertained that diversity means gender diversity in the VC world), I think the partnership realised they were in a bit of a pickle. 

The next day, we crammed into our largest meeting room for an important announcement. There weren’t enough chairs so I had to stand at the back by the espresso machine. Managing partner Rupert Nickerson stood up at the front of the room and addressed us passionately, shaking his iPhone in one hand. I wondered if he had the same level of excitement back when he was building a dog furniture unicorn. 

“We are backing founders who can see the future,” he gesticulated. “So we have to channel their clairvoyance and build a VC firm for the future! VC is stuck in the past. The whole structure of VC is outdated! That’s why from today, we’re doing away with all this silly hierarchy that holds other VC firms back. And we’re making every single one of you a partner.”

And he proceeded to point at us individually à la Oprah. 

“You’re a partner! And you’re a partner! And you’re a partner! Everyone’s a partner!” 

Once the applause had died down, he told us he had another announcement: we’d just made our first big diversity hire. 

We had hired our first marketing and community partner, a woman named Arabella Wilson. Rupert explained that she had 15 years of experience with Eastern European family offices and leading community in the art philanthropy space. 

Arabella was spending the week in her second home in the Cotswolds, so she gave a quick introduction on Zoom, looking pristinely made-up and put together in a Barbour jacket. We all smiled when her cute Havanese jumped up on the table and barked. 

We had two female partners (I guess technically three because the secretary Nicola is also now listed as a partner on the website)! The AGM was saved — and my mind was blown. 

When Arabella was back in town this week, we all walked down to the nearby park in Marylebone to take a team photo that we’d use for the main presentation at the AGM. Everyone was wearing blue button-down shirts except for me and Arabella. She opted for Chanel and heels, which made me feel a bit out of place in my white Balenciaga sneakers, white blouse and new lab-grown leather trousers.

And then I made the mistake of squatting down in the front row. I heard a big rip… not sure the leather had done quite enough growing.

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Lenny
Lenny

Please tell me I can get one of those Mild Conviction water bottles IRL.

Gudieve Ning
Gudieve Ning

That was hilarious!