Private Equity Analyst: A Private Word With Sam Schwerin
Excerpts from a Q & A with Sam Schwerin
May 29, 2012
Sam Schwerin is a co-founder and managing partner of Millennium Technology Value Partners, a buyer of secondary shares in up-and-coming technology companies with nearly $1 billion of assets under management. Millennium has amassed holdings in some of the best-known venture-backed companies, including Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Zappos.com Inc.
Q: What personal quality has helped you the most in your career?
A: Having a vision of where I want to go, no matter how long it takes to get there, being persistent, and holding myself to the highest standards of excellence in pursuit of that vision. I started investing in companies when I was 12 – I had an idea for how to make money in the warrants of Pan Am and I was hooked. I also have a knack for spotting opportunities and figuring out how to profit from them in new and innovative ways, while limiting downside risk – I hate to lose money.
Q: If there’s one thing that you could change about this industry, what would it be?
A: Venture capital has changed a lot in the last decade, particularly around our key interest in seeing the industry more open to alternative liquidity solutions. But to continue providing the kind of dynamic, robust, lifeblood to the economy that venture is historically associated with, the industry needs to make numerous innovations. I think the winning venture capital firms of the next decade will need to be just as creative, flexible, and innovative in a financial sense as the great technology companies they back.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: Having the vision and relentless persistence over the past decade toward our goal of “reinventing venture capital,” and in particular, our work in pioneering the direct secondary market for venture capital. Looking back, I also take great pride in our focus on “customer” satisfaction – 82% of Millennium’s transaction partners over the past decade have chosen to return to complete additional transactions with our firm.
Q: If you had to choose a personal motto, what would it be?
A: Adjust your understanding with every new input.
Q: Name the most valued tradition that you have established at your firm.
A: We have developed a strong roundtable tradition at Millennium. Unlike other partnerships, we submit every investment to the wisdom and critique of the entire team, regardless of seniority. Everyone is expected to come to the table with a point of view and it is by openly challenging each other that we arrive at superior performance.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A:Hot peppers…they’ve also caught on with my five year-old!
Q: What is your idea of a perfect day?
A: A hike in the mountains with my family and my fishing gear. Watching the kids’ faces when they land a fish, and hearing the fish tales grow on the way home.
Q: What is your present state of mind?
A: I am excited and awed by the quality and quantity of new companies we are seeing in technology today. The level of disruption, transformation, and value creation is as great as it has ever been since I started my career. It is exhilarating to have the opportunity to put capital to work in these great companies.