PE vs VC vs GE

Forgive the ignorance, but what is the difference between working in PE vs VC vs Growth Equity with regard to prestige/exits/comp. Is there a clear front-runner among these three in this measure?

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Comments (12)

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 9, 2020 - 4:00pm

My understanding is that PE probably wins in all of OP's categories, but at the expense of the worst work-life balance.

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Most Helpful
Jun 9, 2020 - 4:54pm

The answer to these types of questions will always be some variation of "it depends".

Are you interested in optionality? PE is probably the best, as it opens doors to all kinds of GE and VC opportunities, along with HF, AM, etc.

Are you interested in earlier-stage investing? GE or VC is the move, then. It's much harder to move from GE/VC to PE than the other way around, but hours tend to be better and the culture is often more collegial.

Again, it all really depends, and it can be really harmful to generalize these industries. There's a ton of variation in GE/VC given how new it is (Insight is very different from Sequoia which is very different from GA), and even moreso in PE where you have a number of legacy suit-and-tie NY shops competing for deals with newer funds in SF where people wear polo shirts every day.

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 9, 2020 - 5:02pm

Thank you for the insight! Comp-wise, would you know which industry comes out on top? Also, do you know which industry would look best for bschool? Last question (sorry), if I'm looking to exit to FAANG corp dev later on, or possibly HF, I take it PE would be the best?

Jun 9, 2020 - 6:04pm

PE will generally be higher (mainly because of carry), though I'm sure partners at top VCs aren't complaining much about their salaries.

It's hard to say for b-school, mainly because PE -> MBA is such a common path since lots of PE shops (less now) require MBAs for VP promotions, and that's generally not the case for GE/VC. I'm sure if you're at a top GE/VC shop you'll be fine for MBA admissions, but it's tough to generalize because the sample size is quite skewed.

For FAANG/corp dev., tech PE is probably your best bet. PE is generally seen as being more financially rigorous so it's valuable if you want to work on internal M&A or financial strategy at a big tech company. For more product/growth roles though, PE experience is less necessary.

Take all of this with a grain of salt. I truly believe that if you put in the work and start off in a job that you genuinely enjoy, you'll be able to do whatever you want after. All this "exit opp" bullshit is just looking at past examples, though I'm sure with the right mindset and enough effort anyone can go from growth equity or VC or PE into any other position - it might just require a bit more networking and patience.

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Jun 9, 2020 - 5:41pm

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