Jul 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

Venture capitalists are split on the benefits of working from home

A man in a bathrobe holds a briefcase

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Venture capital activity has persisted in the COVID-19 era, as investors and founders have accepted virtual meetings as viable alternatives to the in-person standard.

What comes next: If society returns to "normal" at some point next year, will that also apply to pitch meetings, board meetings, etc?

Why it matters: One positive byproduct of the pandemic has been that investors have been more willing to entertain deals outside their ZIP codes.

  • After all, there's little difference right now between meeting with a startup based on the other side of the country or the other side of the city.
  • For entrepreneurs in oft-overlooked geographies, it's created a new opportunity.

What they're saying: Venture capitalists I speak with are split on the intrinsic value of returning to "the office," in keeping with white-collar workers everywhere.

  • Most believe that they've been just as productive as in the past, or even more so, by working at home.
  • At the same time, they're missing the tactile piece of advising founders. "The nurturing process is really important, particularly at the early stages, and I do think that will come back because what we have now is a bit of an awareness deficit," says Kevin Turner, the former Microsoft COO who just invested in a new firm called Fuse Venture Partners (more on that below).
  • There's also a concern among some younger VCs that the pandemic has made it more difficult for them to network. Or, as a Sand Hill Road associate recently explained it to me: "The way I become partner is to bring the next unicorn into my firm, and I do that by going out every night and meeting with tons of people — which is something a lot of our partners don't do, because they're older and have families. But, now, we're all at the same bar called Zoom."

Go deeper: Venture capital open for business on record amounts of dry powder

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