Name: Sydney Thomas
Job Title: Senior Associate
Education: UC Berkeley-Haas, Masters of Business. Duke University, Bachelor of Arts
Years at Precursor: Three
Fessler: A lot of people outside VC aren’t familiar how funds are structured, and why. Many non-partner VC employees list their job title as “investor,” which can feel vague and confusing from the outside. What is your job title, and in your own words, what does this mean, within the context of Precursor?
Thomas: My current job title is Sr. Associate. Precursor is a three-person team, and I hired the third person. Charles Hudson started the firm in 2015 and I joined in 2016. I have been a part of pretty much every piece of the organization since then: LP meetings, entrepreneur pitch meetings, founder check-in meetings, fund administration meetings, etc.
Precursor to me feels very much like a family business compared to some other VC firms, which feel more like corporations. There’s not a lot of definition in where my job ends and another job begins, which was extremely anxiety-provoking when I first joined. But as I’ve grown more comfortable with the industry and my expectations for myself, this fluidity now feels very freeing—it’s like a buffet where I get to pick and choose what I get to do each day.
When you were in school, did you aspire to get into VC? Tell me a bit about your career aspirations and what, specifically, made you want to get into early-stage venture.
I am 31, so have had a few careers before VC. When I was in high school, I wanted to be an anthropologist. Then I got to college and realized that career opportunities for anthropologists were too limiting, and at the core, I wanted to understand humans in order to figure out how to make society better. So I then decided that I wanted to be a congresswoman.
After I interned on Capitol Hill with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, I decided that the path to congresswoman was way too long, and I wasn’t excited about being a Legislative Assistant for over 10 years. So I re-evaluated my core aspirations again, and I realized that the main element of society I wanted to improve was the wealth inequality gap. So I decided to try out some other things to get me hopefully to impact that goal.
I moved to New York City after my undergrad at Duke to work on a few projects that the Bloomberg Administration was testing to get at this same underlying goal of decreasing wealth inequality. After working across a few government agencies over five years, I decided that I wanted to try tackling wealth inequality from the private-sector angle.
I went to business school to test out this hypothesis, and worked about five different internships over my two years earning my MBA. I decided that early-stage investing could have the impact I wanted to make on the world. By investing in people and communities who were creating systemic change to address the wealth gap from different angles, I’d get to make the ripple effect I was looking for.
At Precursor, what does your average day look like?
There is really no such thing. Today, I had breakfast to talk personal finance and investing strategies with a friend, then I spent a few hours getting through emails.
For me, getting through emails means reviewing a lot of pitches, doing some follow-ups after a few meetings with fellow investors, making a lot of introductions for people who requested them, and reviewing updates from founders in the Precursor portfolio.