Is Apollo that bad?

Serious question, how rough is life at Apollo? Long hours obviously to be expected at any MF, but would love any first or recent second hand input. Everyone seems to chuckle and describe it as a horror show but how awful is it really?

Mod Note: see a related post on Apollo: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/from-a-lev…

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Comments (242)

  • Investment Analyst in HF - Event
Jun 4, 2020 - 9:45pm

Yeah its pretty fucking bad lol. Know a guy who developed stomach ulcers from the stress of working there.

Not to be a dick, but if you're actually a principal in PE shouldn't you already know the answer? Odds you are you would know someone or know someone who knows someone who's worked there, or maybe come across them on a deal when you were in banking, etc...

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 5, 2020 - 1:33pm

Is the PE community really that small that virtually everyone who works in PE would know someone who knows someone who works at Apollo, or has dealt with them?

Jun 5, 2020 - 1:43pm

Maybe not everyone but PE is really small. Probably 70% of the time I am going to talk to someone in PE we have a mutual contact and I haven't been in it very long. I don't network that much either.

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Jun 4, 2020 - 10:47pm

A few people from my bank are going to Apollo. When I was gearing up for PE recruiting and asked them about the no b-school required and ability to just stay this is what one said:

"if you can make it through your 4 years as an associate at Apollo, who cares. Most people don't finish their first 2-3 years because of how bad it gets. I don't know if I'll even make it to the finish line. For them, if you can get through that hell you are absolutely welcome to stay"

Long story short: yes it's fucking that bad

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Jun 4, 2020 - 10:54pm

how difficult is it to do your associate stint elsewhere and then switch at the principal level?

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  • VP in PE - LBOs
Jun 4, 2020 - 11:02pm

Have heard that it doesn't get much better at the principal level either. Hours are still insane plus it's just an incredibly intense culture.

Jun 5, 2020 - 1:36am

When I interviewed at Apollo, the guy interviewing me literally asked me "Are you sure you want to work here? We work really hard on really hairy, complicated deals that other funds don't usually look at" and continued to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. Definitely gave off some intense vibes.

Jun 5, 2020 - 2:04am

There's frankly not a justification for going to Apollo over other MF/UMMs unless you immediately need an extra 30-60K post-tax, plan on focusing purely on your career to the detriment of your life for 6-8 years to make an attempt to climb up, or have no other options. Apollo-style investing and experience can be done at other, high performing large funds with a better associate experience. As a place to work, there are few to no redeeming features.

Frame Apollo as a place that has to pay more to sucker in the best analysts that could and should go elsewhere rather than a place that chooses to pay the most. And given the relatively little support in finding exits after 2 years, you are relying on the Apollo brand and experience to help you find something else once you burn out. It's the kind of place that unfortunately breaks some of the weaker associates causing longer term psychological and career damage. And if you are doing your DD after receiving an offer, I implore you to reach out to former associates that had good exits coming out of their associate years.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 18, 2020 - 4:35am

Centerbridge is probably the closest to Apollo. From a MF perspective, Apollo's pretty unique - you have to give them that. From an LP marketing perspective, Apollo is the "contrarian" PE part of a portfolio.

Still, if you'd like to do distressed, there's tons of great shops out there. Distressed MF PE is pretty niche though.

  • Associate 2 in HF - Other
Jun 5, 2020 - 2:42am

there's something to be said about the above market pay but the lifestyle has such a terrible reputation. my bank group sends 2 kids to Apollo annually and it's been hit or miss on the experience. one so far has stayed until principal but most leave after 1-2 years to go to Tiger Cubs

Funniest
Jun 5, 2020 - 10:49am

5 hours of sleep or less, 7 days a week, on calls nonstop for 3 live deals, screening 3 new things, and managing 4 portcos, all of which are hairy, complex, and challenging, for years straight, how bad could it be?

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  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Jul 2, 2020 - 5:22pm

They work on Shabbat?

There are many self-described Jews that work there, including the founders.

Jun 10, 2020 - 11:14am

have a close friend who worked for one of their US performing credit teams. His lifestyle seemed okay (probably worked 60-70 hours a week).

"My name's Ralph Cox, and I'm from where ever's not gonna get me hit"

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Jul 2, 2020 - 5:33pm

You should read about the legal war that was carried out between one of their now-ex-employees and the company. It was over their portfolio entity, Athene.

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Jun 5, 2020 - 8:44pm

During my time in IB, I've worked on 3 deals with Apollo, two being pretty large take privates. On 2 of the deals, we did some M&A advisory, and lead left financing on all 3. Their deal teams are slim (2-3 people from PE, 1-2 from cap markets negotiating terms with banks) and the associates were always plugged in until around 3-4am, including weekends.

A lot of people have been asking about what hairy actually means in Apollo context. It is often taking a very contrarian view of a situation and peeling back numerous layers of crap to find a gem within a business. For example, if a business is meaningfully declining in overall revenue, but there are 2-3 core segments that are growing, Apollo will figure out a way to divest the underperfoming assets and focus on the core business. Additionally, they often will do simultaneous LBOs and merge 2 competitors together, in their eyes yielding a ton of run-rate cost savings (not always achieved, but great for getting a ton of financing and putting up lower equity in a transaction). Most of their purchases are sub 9x EBITDA, often purchased through broken sales processes or take privates where the equity markets see little to no hope for a business.

Might get a lot of MS for the candid picture painted above, but the strategy clearly works. Apollo has been extremely successful; there are a lot of ways to make a return.

  • Associate 3 in HF - EquityHedge
Jun 5, 2020 - 9:22pm

Re- value, its more common to sell the high mult assets and keep a cash flow generative ShitCo

Jun 6, 2020 - 6:37pm

Very helpful description of Apollo's business model, which has its roots in Milken, who was the ultimate contrarian during his days and made a lot of money by buying, issuing and placing bonds of hundreds of Shitcos in his day. Leon Black was one of the most fervent Milken disciples and in a way, Apollo is a continuation/evolution of Milken's Drexel.

Jun 5, 2020 - 10:58pm

Yes, as others have mentioned, it's really bad. I've worked with Apollo on two deals. Both extremely complex. The associates were both incredible and were pretty much running the deals from the Apollo side. Think it's an incredible learning opportunity, but there's no doubt it's extremely brutal.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 6, 2020 - 12:16am

Can anyone comment on the extent to which the prevailing sentiment rings true in LA? Also, if anyone can comment on what industry verticals/roles are staffed from that office, it would be greatly appreciated!

Jun 9, 2020 - 3:08pm

LA is the worst office of Apollo. Huge turnover for good reason. Associates have just a miserable experience there, made worse by the fact that recruiting away is almost impossible. Basically a nightmare for most associates.

Jun 10, 2020 - 1:30pm

I generally agree with this based on having two acquaintances that went through Apollo LA.

The churn is real and it's easily verifiable. LA is one of those megafund offices where every year there is at least one recruiter search that happens for a lateral associate position. Like clockwork, the posting comes up every single year.

Others have already thoroughly covered the lifestyle points. One thing I will add though based on keeping in touch with these guys--which I found a little surprising--are the other stressors present as an associate. Basically these guys were constantly worried their heads were on the chopping block and they could lose their job there any day. Both are hard-working, intelligent people that earned their spots there, so it was surprising to hear this. Neither of them lasted more than 2-3 years.

I think a work environment like that would be extremely demoralizing coupled with the extreme hours and commitment to your job. You'd think if you're working that hard and doing a good job, you'd at least feel somewhat valued and could even see a bright future for yourself there. Pulling those kind of hours and constantly worrying about the prospect of getting canned has to be psychologically tolling to say the least.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 6, 2020 - 12:32am

Historically, $400K has been thrown around for associates. Not sure what the number is now.

Jun 6, 2020 - 1:22am

It's definitely an odd place to work. I know some people there and most people either stay for a long time or exit early to a hedge fund.

It definitely feels like the epitome of banking 2.0 as it clearly opens up a path to the top hedge funds, but it also is a life draining place to live. I'm sure it's probably the #1 place to work for work experience, but for what cost.

Jun 7, 2020 - 7:38pm

Lots of alums, current employees, and advisors in this thread confirming it's a burnout-inducing hellscape, but by all means, continue jerking off to their 'prestige' and/or the thought you'd somehow fare better.

IB at it's worst can't touch the depths of PE, especially at a place like Apollo. 99.9% of the time when you're getting "crushed," it's brainless work that you can mindlessly do half-tuned out with music on. You're changing every instance of green in the deck to a slightly brighter shade at 3AM. The guy at Apollo is building out, substantiating (at micro and macro levels), and preparing a business plan for a new downside case. And he'll have to be sharp for the 8AM call to present and defend it all.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 6, 2020 - 6:55am

Current Apollo guy. Yes it's that bad. It sucks, culture is awful with egomaniacal dudes who create an incredibly political atmosphere (again, only guys) and run you to the fucking ground with arbitrary deadlines, verbal berating time to time, and basically a banking 2.0 on steroids vibe. It is not for anyone without a thick skin. People can say if you can't / don't want to handle the culture you're a pussy, but that just isn't true. Try dealing with it day in day out including weekends. And it's not banking where you have a bunch of downtime to bullshit around with colleagues and whatnot. It actually is nonstop so do beware if you are considering signing.

That being said, what people above have said is right. If you can cut it in this shitty culture, you will be fine wherever else you go.

Also, this is a megafund, you will likely work on a TON of opps which don't go anywhere but are a fuck ton of work. If I could do it again I'd go to a MM fund.

EDIT: I can't make an APO complaint post without mentioning how shit the hours are. I honestly miss banking hours sometimes. The unpredictability in my schedule has actually worstened thanks to principals / newly minted partners who want to make their make their mark or present opps to IC

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 6, 2020 - 7:44am

LBO PE is what I like and I'm not super interested in public markets. I would rather have a more hands on PE role

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 8:29pm

I went there because it was a prestigious, large megafund where I convinced myself that people's experiences I had heard of, would not be applicable to me or that I was stronger than everyone else. Would rather work at a place I can smile walking into the door of rather than rolling my eyes with a "here we go again" type of attitude

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 6, 2020 - 11:15am

Why an MM fund out of curiosity? I'm at another MF (admittedly with a better lifestyle) but almost think there is a lot of value into getting the number of reps you would get at a H&F / APO for a couple years and then going to an MM instead of either starting at an MM or an MF like mine which is more laid back.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 8:30pm

So for me it's a lot of frustration rising from not being able to see entire transactions through and having no closed deals under my belt, even though I spend so much time balls deep in diligence or evaluating new opps. My friends at other MM funds have seen not only the closure of platform deals but additional tuck-ins which, in my mind, must be so much more satisfying seeing the actual platform strategy pan out. Maybe I'm of a grass is greener mentality but the grass ain't anything close to green here

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  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jun 7, 2020 - 12:07pm

On a serious note though, how do you do those hours? 3-4am including weekends - how many hours of sleep do you get a week? Do you need substances or short runs in the morning or something?

Also curious, on the constant berating etc, that's gotta wear you down - how do you cope with that? Paste VPs face on a punching bag back at home?

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 8:44pm

Just determination but that's been waning quite a bit if I'm honest. I enjoy the have-nots outside of work but definitely do not use any kind of substances at work other than cold brew and water.

On the berating, I"m not sure. It sucks and there's no way out of it really. The berating tends to come mostly from the same people but they also tend to have quite two-faced personalities so you learn to adapt and get out of interacting with them as much as possible, granted it may not always be in your hands. Don't have a good answer for you on this

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Jun 8, 2020 - 10:05am

Does a business model like this make sense in the long-term? Having such high turnover? I get it for BBs because they are huge and have an endless supply of talent to choose from, but is this sustainable for Apollo? Different industry, but I've seen over the years this didn't work out for LEK (at least in Europe). People wanted to go there, but the brutal hours forced management to implement a culture change as having the majority of your best and brightest consistently leave after 18-24 months is not great for business.

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jun 9, 2020 - 9:42am

Lol scrolling through and just had to point out, comparing Apollo to LEK is like comparing a Victoria Secret model to an 80-year old grandma because (i) there is just no comparison, and (ii) LEK is almost dead

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jun 12, 2020 - 7:19am

Cheer up mate, there could be worse places and LEK comes to mind - consulting sweatshop without the glamour or pay of PE, same arbitrary deadlines, rude managers, unhelpful partners etc etc

Jun 22, 2020 - 7:48am

Maybe a bit crazy to ask, but does anyone actually enjoy the experience? Of course no one would really love their life given the horror stories mentioned above, but would like to know if there are some odd-balls there that secretly enjoy the intensity/seem to be "okay" with the crazy hours (are those the ones that end ups staying?)

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Oct 23, 2020 - 3:37am

Not at all really. Made good friendships at the associate level though most of it was formed over drinks while complaining about work whenever we got the chance. I personally didn't know associates who "loved" the intensity or the culture but it was certainly prevalent at the principal level and up. Lots of senior guys loved late nights and even loved coming into the office on the weekends so that they'd be able to talk about it later on in the week or in IC lol. Lot's of statements like "we were grinding through this all weekend and were up all night finalizing yesterday" which were thrown around as a form of validating work / general circle-jerking.

Can't speak to other offices but have heard from a friend that LON and LA are sweaty too. 

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Jul 2, 2020 - 6:01pm

What do you mean only dudes? I notice a bunch of women on LinkedIn. The environmental co-head is a woman, for example. And at least one of their undergrad hires last year is a woman.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Oct 4, 2020 - 1:25pm

Is this culture similar in other Apollo offices such as LDN/HK/SG and across the different business lines PE/Credit/Real Assets?

Jun 7, 2020 - 3:45pm

Aside from Apollo, curious to hear what other PE firms have a reputation for bad hours and culture?

For example, former analysts of mine who went to KKR and Silverlake have said that it was really bad there. Said it made the hours in banking look like a walk in the park. One former analyst went to Apollo. Said that he hated it for all the reasons above. He exited after two years to bschool and is now at a UMM PE firm, where he has been for a long time and is quite happy.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 7, 2020 - 7:33pm

I've heard KKR sees a lot of variation depending on the group, ranging from slightly better thank banking to much much worse. Have also heard Silver Lake (more so NY office, not sure about Menlo) is a rough place to be.

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Jul 2, 2020 - 6:07pm

I think it's hilarious/scary that a KKR principal got awarded a 30 under 30 award a few years ago, and then she got canned literally two months later. Maybe office politics?

Jun 7, 2020 - 5:00pm

The real question is can you have bad hours, but good culture? Has anyone seen this play out well? How can this be done when you're expected to work 24/7 on multiple investments and you're leading diligence processes?

Jun 7, 2020 - 8:05pm

If your deal team (of cool people) is genuinely biting off more than it probably should chew, then it can be a high-hours/good-culture experience. Senior guys super-involved (and instructory), deadlines process-forced rather than arbitrary, people encouraging rather than berating, etc.

In short, if everyone's "got your back" rather than "take my fall," same amount of work feels a lot different.

Jun 7, 2020 - 8:18pm

Yeah, I think it's much more sensible/acceptable at smaller firms where workload can change very quickly and resources aren't nearly as plentiful.

But it really does come back to what you said re: culture and working together/collaboration.

Jun 7, 2020 - 6:16pm

To those in PE, is it possible to get an interview without a headhunter through networking?

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 7, 2020 - 9:23pm

Man... not that I'd have a good chance at MF anyway, but all this talk about the culture and hours at MFs make me strongly lean toward MM for PE recruiting

Jun 9, 2020 - 7:34pm

Tbh that's most pe firms

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

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  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Jul 2, 2020 - 6:23pm

I think you mean the MF that doesn't require its associates to get MBAs in order to move up. And the answer seems to be yes, they don't require an MBA for promotion.

Sep 13, 2020 - 11:08pm

they hired summer associates this year who didn't have pre-mba PE experience and they promote without the need for MBA

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 8, 2020 - 2:04pm

To be fair, most UMM/MF PE firms will not hire post-MBA candidates who do not have PE experience prior to business school.

  • Analyst 2 in AM - FI
Jun 8, 2020 - 5:06pm

When I worked in HY sales/cap markets, one MD said that Leon Black is the Emperor Palpatine of private equity after we placed an especially shitty loan for APO. I sorta picture all the associates and junior employees as storm troopers and partners as imperial admirals. I have heard nothing but the worst things about working as a associate at APO. The senior guys at Apollo are really smart and there is a reason that APO has been around as long as it has and has grown as much as it has. I would also that any debt APO raises for its portfolio companies trades with an APO discount because you know that Apollo is going to fuck you over.

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jun 9, 2020 - 11:41am

Details my man! How do they fuck you over, why are their portco debts bad? If they fuck you over don't you get to fuck them back harder as a creditor? Enforcement etc

  • Associate 1 in HF - Event
Jun 9, 2020 - 11:58am

They use weak credit docs that give them holes to exploit while preventing the creditors from taking actions. Apollo debt trades at a discount, and you have to go in prepared to fight.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 9, 2020 - 12:57pm

I have heard similar things about their portco debt. Sentiment has always been "don't touch Apollo debt because they will find a way to fuck you"

  • Associate 2 in RE - Comm
Oct 23, 2020 - 9:10pm

Would expect nothing less from a guy that commissioned a Bloomberg PR touting himself as "RUTHLESS...no one makes money like Apollo's Leon Black." Like really?

Jun 11, 2020 - 12:02pm

Thanks for the share. interesting stuff.

"My name's Ralph Cox, and I'm from where ever's not gonna get me hit"

Jul 26, 2020 - 12:19pm

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