Vista Equity - Analyst/Associate Role

Hi everyone,

Prospect here looking at full-time PE opportunities, and for full clarity, I'm an incoming SA at a typical NY BB, non-div, semi-target, and interested in these full-time PE opps since I think I may have a decent shot there, instead of on-cycle since that seems to be pretty random.

I've been placed in the tech group, and have obviously done as much research as I can on Vista's analyst program, along with Warburg Pincus and Bain.

I know WSO isn't the most reliable place on earth, which is why it's ironic I'm making this post, but I have found that a lot of the previous Vista threads are just people eventually arguing with each other, and I was genuinely wondering if anyone here who has experience in the tech PE space can give their genuine $0.02 on Vista going forward, if I were to hypothetically join as an analyst or an associate.

Like is it worth forgoing my return offer to a NY BB and taking Vista? Is their mega fund / brand name / analyst/asso experience worth it? Relative to Warburg, their team seems to have a lot of non-target schools and honestly a confusing team composition overall. How is their track record going forward (are the good days behind them)? Is the PE analyst experience better than IB? Exit opps?

Just some questions that come to mind as I'm approaching the summer - anybody with experience that can offer any non-toxic (lol) discourse would be highly appreciated. Thanks!

 
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Believe there are a few other threads on this topic but if Tech PE is what you want to do, it is best in class. TB and Silver Lake are the only other two on Vista’s level and both aren’t great from a culture perspective. Holistically in terms of deal velocity, comp, exits, culture, I would consider it to be the best seat in Tech PE right now. The reason you don’t see the same level of “prestige” on their team page is because they (along with APO) have been the 2 MFs who are most focused on just recruiting killers and least focused on traditional prestige.

On the other hand if you don’t know you want to do Tech PE, I 100% would stick with the BB as it will maximize your options. While Vista is great in its space, it remains to be seen what will happen to the Tech sector more broadly. Vista (along with other tech funds) is likely to see a good bit of loss in the coming years as investments made at a time of high multiples come crashing down. Which means that in general, only the firms that stayed disciplined in investing in mission-critical software and didn’t get caught up in the hype will come out with the least bruises. Up to you, and up to whether you believe in Vista’s investment strategy during this time, that should inform your decision about whether it’ll continue to be best in class.

 

You sound very knowledgeable - thank you.

I’m definitely wanting to be in some kind of tech buyside role in the future (probably PE, at least to start off with). And from what you’re saying, if I were to get a Vista offer, it would be unwise to turn it down at a very very slight chance of getting an H&F offer or something during on-cycle (not that H&F is 100% better, but maybe if I want a better HF exit or something idk, and culture as you mentioned probably sucks there).

Also on that note, definitely looking into hedge funds as well, (and the most recent thread on Vista and HFs just turned into another argument), and I was wondering if you had any clarity on if it’s possible to exit to a top SM / MM / LO from Vista, or if they’re too “playbook heavy” and such an exit requires an associate stint at a Warburg/SL/H&F. And even on Vista PE exits - there haven’t been a lot given how nascent the firm is, but with a lot of other MFs building out major tech platforms (ie CD&R, FP), could those be / become viable exits from seasoned Vista investors?

and for a final follow up - do Vista and Apollo really recruit just “killers”? To be honest, I’m just not entirely sure if that’s just a true statement, or if it’s a justification for some of the team profiles, and even some incoming PE intern classes recently, with the expansion of that program & pipeline.

Thanks again, + SB’ed

 

Don’t have much visibility on HF exits but Vista definitely lags in this front compared to H&F / SLP / some of the more “classic” megafunds. I don’t think it’s because of anything to do with the playbook but because Vista / TB are very career-oriented and invest a lot into you as a long term employee. As an associate wrapping up your 2-3 years, it seems like at Vista there’s clear visibility into promotion which can be extremely lucrative. From this perspective it makes sense why many people choose to stay, as opposed to H&F and SLP who seem more likely to push you out after 2 years.

On the “killers” question, obviously it’s impossible to know as someone on the outside but it’s common sense that tells me this is true. Apollo and Vista are 2 of the best at what they do and are recognized throughout the industry as among the best places to end up. Banking analysts across the street know of these 2 places very well and there’s no shortage of IB analysts at GS TMT, MS M&A, PJT, etc. (basically all the “top tier” groups) that would do anything to work for one of these places. But if you look at the backgrounds of both these firms, you see a bunch of people from “lower-tier” banks that work there. So the logical conclusion to be drawn is that these firms have their pick of the litter and still choose to go with a candidate with a less pedigreed background, because of something else. That something else is most likely to be the quality of candidate and how good they prove themselves to be in interviews (in other words, whether or not they are “killers”). Stark contrast to plenty of other places where you can make it to a superday, crush it and still get cut because of the group / school you’re from.

 

Of course this is an anecdote but I know one of their ex-Vista analysts (came from a target). Always felt he had a 'killer' mentality. Comes from a 'trust fund' rich background and always thought he was an arrogant dick but one of the sharpest / driven people I've met. 

 

It is feasible to run on-cycle from a PE analyst program. You will just need a good reason for why you want to leave and it will be near impossible for you to recruit for NY if in SF and vice versa. Source: I did it. 

Also, in terms of the HF exits, I've seen a good amount of Vista employees at crossovers, not really like pureplay HFs though. I also think that if you want MM HF it's more than feasible – I have seen people from FP go to Citadel and FP runs like a pretty similar strategy to Vista. Would imagine that long-only will be tough without an MBA but that's coming from literally any MF (don't think it's unique to Vista).

On your last point, I do think that they try to avoid the cookie-cutter PE candidates. I was in a club in college that organizes a lot of PE case comps with MFs that hire out of undergrad, and Vista would never show any interest in sponsoring these case comps because they don't care about getting the sweaty candidates. They have a really structured recruiting process that emphasizes the CCAT and whatever they do in their interviews.

 

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