VC Jake Saper took a big chance leaving Kleiner Perkins for Emergence Capital. It paid off by getting to watch the Zoom deal up close.

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Jake Saper, general partner of Emergence Capital.

VC Jake Saper left Kleiner Perkins to join Emergence Capital after only 9 months. Saper’s first deal at Emergence was taking part in a $30 million funding of Zoom. That experience helped Saper realize the importance of a strong bond with founders. See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jake Saper isn’t a professional musician, but he might look like one on Zoom.

Having let his hair grow long since the pandemic, the venture capitalist can be seen on video calls with his fellow partners at Emergence Capital and assorted portfolio companies with his guitar and electric keyboard directly behind him.

He’s even used those instruments to make friends and jam virtually with some of the founders he’s worked with.

“It’s just cool to see this transition in the next generation of VCs,” Saper says, who believes the venture capital industry has swayed to new-school and that increasingly, everyone’s path to the industry is nonlinear.

Saper’s path to the VC industry also was indirect, even though growing up in Austin, Texas, to two entrepreneur parents was perhaps a sign of his life to come.

After graduating from Yale with a degree in political science, Saper initially cut his teeth working at a solar power tech company in India. His duties included global strategy, business development and financing, and he was a fairly successful fundraiser right out of the gate, generating $75 million in a mixture of equity and debt during his three-year stint.

Upon his return to the US, Saper enrolled in a master’s program in environment and resources, thinking he’d continue his career in energy. Instead, he decided to also enroll in an MBA program at Stanford and became enamored by the VC industry in the area.

“I had this negative impression of finance and everyone in it previously,” Saper said, “but I then understood it is really heterogenous.” His initial interest got him in at Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth Fund, helping