Flagship Ventures Reviews | Glassdoor

Flagship Ventures Reviews

Updated May 26, 2017
7 reviews

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2.6
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Noubar Afeyan
4 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. "Extremely Innovative Culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Flagship Ventures full-time

    Pros

    Really interesting place to work - very creative/smart/collaborative staff. Lot's of opportunity to grow.

    Cons

    Company has grown signifcantly and workloads have increased - need to add additional staff to support growth.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Good Brand to Have on Resume; Unfulfilling Summer Experience; Toxic Culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Flagship Ventures as an intern

    Pros

    The Senior Associates and Partners you work for are generally all very inspiring, with the exception of MBA Partners/Associates who exhibit imposter syndrome of being non-technical in a technical Biotech firm. Having a VC firm looked good on my resume when pursuing other opportunities. People are generally very impressed with the Flagship brand.

    Cons

    I remember sitting down a year ago and looking at reviews on GlassDoor to decide if I wanted to take this opportunity or another. As I read reviews, I decided the poor reviews were clearly from former fellows who didn't get internship offers and were disgruntled by the experience. Hence, I decided to give Flagship a try and form my own opinion. Boy, was I dissatisfied. Flagship gathers up the best and brightest PhDs they can find, and pumps them for their creativity, intelligence, energy and desire to perform well. Your day-to-day work consists of sitting at desk and pouring over scientific papers in order to come up with new scientific ideas for Flagship. The Fellows Program is more of a research internship than a VC internship. At the end of the summer, the fellows are left exhausted from literature searches and Flagship is left with hundreds of patents and interesting ideas to form new companies. (By the way, as fellows, we forfeit the rights to these ideas with the extensive paperwork we sign. We don't get credit for the work and Flagship will continue to work on your ideas, without you.) It's a brilliant business model for Flagship. They only pay interns $9000 for the whole summer and Flagship walks away with groundbreaking ideas from a crop of young Harvard and MIT PhDs. As a fellow, don't be expected to learn anything about venture or company creation. This is a research fellowship through and through. If you don't have a PhD, don't expect an offer. (Looking at you MS and MBAs.) Typically, offer rates are in the single digits, but if you want an offer, you don't need to be the hardest working or the smartest fellow. You just need to flatter and get along with associates/partners the most. In short, don't take this fellowship if you think it will lead to a job at Flagship. Be ready to work 12 hour days with extreme exhaustion and no learning opportunities. Flagship is secretive and Fellows aren't permitted to gain insight into how the firm functions or operates. I noticed that associates within the firm are not promoted. Due to this limited upward mobility within the firm, I decided I didn't want an offer rather early in the summer. Still, I produced quality work (that Flagship's still working on). If I had to do the Fellows Program over again, I would. I cannot deny that the Flagship brand boosted my resume significantly and landed me job offers with other VC firms, consulting firms and innovation divisions with big pharma. (In full disclosure, I took one of those offers and I'm quite happy in my current, well-paid gig. So, no ill will toward Flagship over here). However, if I wish I had adjusted my expectations going into the program that this would just a research internship, with long hours in a toxic company culture.

    Advice to Management

    Interestingly, the CEO, is a very kind, serious, approachable man. The fellows interact with him several times over the course of the summer. However, there is a major disconnect between the CEO's attitude and the rest of the company. Overall, the company culture is also extremely toxic. The Partners and (and to a much lesser extent), associates promote significant profanity, sex jokes, semen/poop/pee jokes, office pranks and hazing-esque self-sacrifice of Fellows/Associates. It's similar to and just as cringeworthy as when the old guys at my college frat past their prime came back for alumni weekend.
    This toxic culture trickles down to Support Staff who try to promote a frat-esque culture as well as Fellows. Advice to the CEO: Clean up the culture. Though I'm years removed from the Fellows program, I run into other former fellows from time to time in the industry who comment on Flagship's toxic culture.

  3. Helpful (7)

    "Avoid this internship program"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Strong reputation in the life sciences, exposure to interesting projects, and the opportunity to have a large degree of responsibility for the projects you work on. This is one of the only VC firms that has a formal internship program and they put a lot of their energy into the process. The program is an opportunity to apply your scientific training and background to new areas and put together ideas for new companies. Decent benefits (food, snacks, drinks).

    Cons

    The two reviews of the internship program are 100% accurate. Prior to joining the program I assumed they were written by people with an axe to grind or were one-off examples...not so, it really is this bad. I can reiterate a few things:

    Toxic culture. Partners range from decent to downright sleazy. Huge egos. Locker room atmosphere. Support staff are a toss-up, some are friendly while others are very unpleasant. Associates are all good to work with, though. The intense secrecy and privacy were a drain on the culture.

    Goals and expectations are not well defined and little to no feedback is given. Projects are required to be carried out and presented in a highly structured way that, in my view, was never well articulated and changed from one partner/associate to the next. The result is a large amount of ambiguity and criticism as you attempt to figure it out. I imagine part of this is to keep you thinking big, but I found it stressful to be perpetually trying to conform to a method so strictly enforced and yet ill-defined.

    Intense workload. They want to extract as much out of you as possible and, at the end, see who would be a good candidate for the firm. I don't fault them for this, but the nature of the program and management styles of the partner/associates made this an unenjoyably process. As was mentioned in a previous review, getting a full time job after the program is 0-20% and highly dependent on the partner/associate you work for. Consider this before you take the time away from your graduate work or, worse yet, move to Boston to do this program.

    Overall, this may be a good program for some, since there are interns who accept full time jobs and seem reasonably happy there, but I wouldn't recommend this to any friend or classmate. If you are looking for a way out of science and into business/finance there are much better ways to get the experience.

    Advice to Management

    Not sure what advice I can give, but recruiting candidates from the best schools and then alienating a large percentage of them doesn't seem like a sustainable way to run an internship program and I imagine will be bad for the firm's long-term reputation...the life science industry is a small place. The program left me with a terrible taste in my mouth.


  4. Helpful (3)

    "Very smart people with big ideas"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    surrounded by smart people, always thinking big

    Cons

    exit ops for lower level people are not great because it is so specialized

    Advice to Management

    nurture young people to attract more talent


  5. Helpful (9)

    "Sharp People, Toxic Culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern in Cambridge, MA
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at Flagship Ventures as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The people within the firm are very sharp, and generally fun to interact with on a day-to-day basis. Interesting work; Flagship initiates and invests in companies working on the cutting edge of science, and takes an open-minded approach to new ideas.

    Cons

    Culture of extreme paranoia and secrecy. Poor communication. The firm treats those "on the outside" (entrepreneurs, interns, experts) very poorly, and generally tries to extract the most that they can from these people while giving little back in return (worse yet, a few people within the firm seem to take particular glee in such behavior). Top-down management; it seems that all decisions must originate from the CEO.

    Advice to Management

    You have so many ingredients for success, but I don't think that they'll be realized over the long term unless you start treating employees and other stakeholders in a way that won't alienate them.


  6. Helpful (7)

    "Disappointing Experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Flagship VentureLabs Fellow
    Former Intern - Flagship VentureLabs Fellow
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Flagship Ventures as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Nice office, central location, interesting projects, fun people.

    Cons

    Need to be comfortable knowing that you are part of their leveraged business model in offering low cost (getting very low pay) and high quality labor (most of the candidate are stellar), and that most of their top companies come through this process where the firm profits immensely from it. Chance of getting a full-time role with them is between 0-20% and random depending on which partners and associates you end up working with. Filled with numerous and subtle internal politics. Good luck if you are a female as it is still an old boys club. Better off getting an internship with a consulting firm or biotech company, or even starting your own company after graduating from your phd program. Partners are at the same time nice and encouraging but also shame you into working ridiculous hours, knowing that that they will not hire you and in the hopes of getting as much work done so they can then found the companies and claim ownership, I.P. (which you sign to give away), and then discard you at the end of the process.

    Advice to Management

    Stop selling the great opportunity of working at a world-class venture capital firm if you are not going to actually give the fellows a world-class experience. Seems like the candidates are starting to catch on though and they are having to market the opportunity more and more to keep the thing afloat and keep getting the high returns.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Tough and fraught with political/interpersonal ambiguities that don't add value to the LPs"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Flagship Ventures as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Super bright partners with a great reputation for success

    Cons

    Secretive culture w/in organization seems to discourage mentoring or iteration.