One of Google’s most important executives managing its core advertising and search businesses is leaving the Googleplex for a new career in venture capital.
Greylock Partners announced on Monday that Sridhar Ramaswamy is joining the Silicon Valley VC firm as a venture partner. Ramaswamy had spent the last 15 years at Google, where as senior vice president of advertising and commerce he oversaw a range of Google’s most important business units.
Google confirmed the news in a filing after market close. In an exclusive interview, Ramaswamy told Forbes he was joining Greylock due to a combination of close relationships with some of the firm’s partners as well as the desire to try something new after a run with Google Ads that helped scale it from $1.5 billion when he joined in 2003 to annualized revenue of more than $100 billion this year.
“It’s been a dream journey to be part of this amazing growth engine that is part of Google; it’s been an amazing business success,” Ramaswamy said. “The thing that was amazing was the focus on users even as it grew.”
Ramaswamy called the transition to VC a personal one as his children reached college age and he passed the decade-and-a-half milestone at the Googleplex. “I thought, I need to reinvent myself,” he says. “And a lot of what I was inspired by is working with people and working on innovative projects.”
With a track record running the core revenue driver for Google, Ramaswamy represents a hiring coup for Greylock, the firm that includes LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman. His long-standing relationships with Hoffman and partner Asheem Chandna helped close the move for the firm. Both Chandna and Ramaswamy are board members at Palo Alto Networks.
“He’s one of the most accomplished and seasoned executives in Silicon Valley,” Chandna said in an interview. “He’s had an extraordinary career in the contributes he’s made. And we’re adding an operator with an entrepreneur’s mindset.”
Ramaswamy will start as a venture partner as he and the firm ensure the job is a long-term fit, with the opportunity for him to move into a general partner role in time. He will focus on potential investments in analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence at Greylock. Ramaswamy has made a handful of personal investments in the past, he says.
The executive-turned-VC’s departure from Google is a loss to the senior leadership at the company, but Ramaswamy says he’s leaving Google when “the company and unit are in as good shape as they’ve ever been.”
Asked what he was most proud of about his legacy at Google, Ramaswamy chose an answer that could be interpreted as a shot at other tech giants like Facebook, which has faced privacy and user data concerns in recent months.
“The thing I would highlight the most with what my team and I did at Google is we created a business where we were able to deliver both on being user-focused and delivering value to advertisers,” he says.
It’s a balancing act of users versus sales that Ramaswamy will now look to teach to Greylock’s startup founders.