Moving to Tech from Private Equity

Hi Guys,

I've been thinking a lot recently about roles outside of finance for a next job. Tech stands out vs other corporates given the smart people, intellectual rigor, and higher pay. I've got 2 years IB and 2 years at a UMM PE/growth firm where I have been focused on non-tech industry groups (generalist / healthcare). I've seen a lot of posts about the decision to move to tech instead of an analyst role in IB or even after 2 years in IB but couldn't find much on more experienced laterals. I had a few questions I was hoping someone could help me with.

  • Having not done tech IB or PE, do I have any shot to get something interesting? Not sure how valued the PE background is in tech.
  • What roles could someone with my profile possibly be considered for? Simply the finance function? 
  • What would be the best way to learn more about openings? There's a ton of postings on Linkedin but are there headhunters who focus on this?

Thanks in advance for your help. Really appreciate it.

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Comments (10)

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jan 28, 2021 - 2:02pm

Going through somewhat of a similar process - from what I've seen, there are definitely interesting opps out there but probably less product-focused given experience to date will be transaction/finance focused.

I've received inbounds from the typical buyside headhunters for these types of roles, although these are typically platforms with PE/VC backing.  Lot's of LinkedIn postings as you mentioned, but many are early stage and hard to discern if they really have any legs. 

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  • VP in VC
Jan 28, 2021 - 2:17pm

It depends on at what stage you are intending to join. You would never get offered a Series B CXO role (assuming the X department is even built out fully) but if you find a company raising a Seed round that needs some legs, sure you could get Founder economics, you just have to sink some time into the search because no recruiter is going to serve that up on a silver platter. Generally that doesn't happen though because Finance folks are risk averse and wind up in Series B or later companies, so your economics aren't really going to be exciting after staring down the barrel of UMM carry economics for a few years.

If you're plugging in to a Seed / A company, don't expect to have a junior reporting to you - the point of startups is you're the one who has to get things done (the people are what make or break the success of a firm). If you're plugging into a tech "startup" (e.g., a later stage venture of pre-IPO company), I mean, these are basically more similar to corporate than not when you think about hierarchy, room for advancement, etc. Look at say, Affirm, for example. It's a tech darling right now but working there is like working at a corporate except everyone is young and it's full of Silicon Valley goofballs.

Some disorganized thoughts but hopefully a helpful framework. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 28, 2021 - 2:38pm

Also interested. Like the person above said, people coming from PE will mostly be constrained to transaction and finance focused roles. A possible route to product focused roles in tech is getting a MBA, switching to MBB in a tech focused role and then making the switch to tech. 

Jan 28, 2021 - 6:55pm

Have you thought about what role you'd want to take on in a tech company? PE is an easy sell to get into a corp dev/strategic finance role but beyond that it's a bit tougher, with product roles being a real stretch unless you are willing to be an entry level PM (vs. Senior PM). BizOps roles also could be an option but depends how the org is structured and what the group does (is it more of a growth function including strategy or is org structured where bizops sits under CFO?). What I would consider more interesting BizOps roles tend to hire consultants not IB/PE folks but you could potentially try to give that a shot too.

If you don't want to go the MBA route and assuming you don't want to do corp dev/finance longer term, a solid move is to get your foot in the door doing finance at a place like Amazon or Microsoft which lets you internally rotate after a year. After your one year mark you can switch over to BD, Product or Marketing if you have solid reviews.

Best method for large cap tech is to blast your resume to HR and then hit up a buddy to recommend you internally. All these companies pay their employees referral bonuses so they should be happy to push your resume so you at least get a response.

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  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Jan 28, 2021 - 7:28pm

You may have some decent success just applying to corporate development roles on LinkedIn / company websites but it'll be tough to get traction on product / biz ops roles (which IMO are more interesting) without a referral or some kind of pull internally. Not sure if you're considering business school but that's the easiest way to make the transition -- all the big tech companies recruit heavily from the M7 and you can demonstrate product or product marketing interest through case competitions, networking, etc. so you aren't pigeonholed as a deal guy. I know a handful of PE people who interned in tech during business school, realized they didn't like it / didn't mesh with the culture, and pivoted back into finance after school. 

  • VP in VC
Jan 28, 2021 - 9:18pm
  • Having not done tech IB or PE, do I have any shot to get something interesting? Not sure how valued the PE background is in tech.

What do you define as interesting?

  • What would be the best way to learn more about openings? There's a ton of postings on Linkedin but are there headhunters who focus on this?

There are headhunters, one example would be Golden Gate Recruits. A lot are on LinkedIn though; I saw a Series A company looking for a CFO and a pre-launch company looking for a head of biz ops just today. The really good roles you likely will have to network to find. If someone has a billion dollar idea, they don't post ads asking people to inquire, generally. If you are looking for Big Tech, then those will mostly be advertised on their sites (e.g., DD has a million positions open right now).

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 31, 2021 - 2:04pm

This is a bit tangential, but as someone from 2 years of IB + 2 years of PE, I am surprised that I am more pigeon holed than I thought I would be. This is probably my fault for not knowing more, but I thought I could do anything after PE within industry / tech. However, agreed that most of the looks I'm getting are for corp dev / strategic finance, which frankly are less interesting to me than strategy & ops / biz ops / product. Frankly - I have some regret of not doing consulting back in undergrad because it seems that many of my counterparts have landed really interesting roles with less of a grind there (albeit lower pay)

Anyways - would appreciate any uplifting words / any anecdotes of people breaking into my strategy / biz ops roles from PE

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