Sipping his morning coffee at the offices of Enterprise Partners in Brentwood, James Gauer glances over the day's itinerary, which is scribbled on a yellow note pad.
There are job interviews for a chief financial officer and a vice president of sales at a young Santa Monica-based software company that Brentwood is funding. He has also scheduled interviews with search firms to find a chief executive.
For a San Diego software company, Gauer will look for a joint partnership deal with another company. Later, he and another Enterprise partner will discuss taking public a Mountain View computer graphics company. And then there are negotiations to conduct with two more high-technology companies they hope to woo from rival venture capital offers.
In short, a busy day and much of it involves not just investing money, for which the firm gets an equity stake, but in making sure the companies getting the money have the right management and a sound business plan.
"People say, 'you sit there with a pile of money, people come to you with their ideas and you pass judgment,'" Gauer said. "The fact is, it's a highly competitive business, one where if you are not going hard at it, there are 150 other venture funds out there that are going to get the best deals."
Gauer is one of five general partners at Enterprise Partners, which has $415 million under management, most of it in health care and information technology businesses it has helped since their early stages.
To do his job effectively, Gauer said he must play three general roles.
First, he must be a technologist keeping pace with the industries in which Enterprise invests. Second, he must be a talent scout, looking for good managers. And finally, he must be a psychotherapist, offering support to executives who wrench through their first few years at Enterprise's companies.
This typically means a work day that starts before 7 a.m. and ends hours after dark. Gauer said his life is divided into two areas: raising his 12-year-old daughter Bryn, and his work with Enterprise, one of L.A.'s five largest venture capital funds.
"There's not time for much else," said Gauer, 46, a divorced father who is raising his daughter by himself.
Up at 6 a.m. or a little after, Gauer goes jogging and is soon reading through journals relevant to his field like Computer World and CIO magazine.
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