GV's Bill Maris Passes Torch to Krane

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GV founder Bill Maris on Wednesday announced that he was departing the company after an eight-year tenure, and that his replacement would be David Krane, a managing partner and one of his chief deputies at the Alphabet-owned venture capital firm. Krane is a 17-year Google veteran.

Maris wanted to spend more time with his wife and 11-month-old son, he told Recode.

The fact that everything was running smoothly at the firm contributed to his decision, he said, rejecting any suggestion that he was leaving because of any changes or directions from Alphabet.

GV, formerly Google Ventures, has functioned much like a traditional venture capital firm. It has made investments with an end goal of reaping profits through investing in key partners, rather than seeking out prospective acquisitions.

With 14 partners, GV is one of the most active U.S. corporate venture firms in the United States. Its holdings include Jet.com, an e-commerce firm that Walmart has agreed to acquire for US$3 billion in cash plus $300 million in Walmart shares. GV currently manages around $2.4 billion and currently has a staff of 70.

Maris, who is a neuroscientist by training, previously worked at the Swedish Investor AB, where he managed biotechnology firms. He later founded and then sold Burlee, a Web hosting business. He founded Google Ventures in 2009, and since that time it has seen its share of success.

"Overall, GV has grown into a formidable organization under Maris, with about $2.5 billion of assets and investments," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"GV's leadership of Uber's Series C funding is probably its investment high point, so far as on-paper asset appreciation goes," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Along with the hits, however, there have been some misses.

"Their biggest miss is certainly Snapchat," suggested Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

"Some may say Palantir, but personally I think the jury is still out there," he told the E-Commerce Times.

However, Nest also could be seen as one of GV's bigger disappointments to date.

"That's mainly because Google hasn't been able to leverage its investment into the market-leading position that most assumed purchasing Nest would provide," King noted.

It's unlikely that Maris' exit has anything to do with perceptions of failure, however.

"Maris has been the guy in charge at GV for eight years, but moving on is a good move for him and the company," said Steve Blum, principal analyst at Tellus Venture Associates.

"When you're a visionary and a disruptor, you can't sit still and you can't get comfortable," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"That's true of GV corporately and Maris personally," Blum added. "I'm looking forward to seeing him resurface with something completely different."

GV's leadership transition will be something to watch closely, but given that Krane has worked with Maris and is not coming from the outside, the firm's direction may not change much if at all.

"Krane is a natural choice to replace Maris from both experience and skills points of view," said Pund-IT's King.

"He joined GV in 2010, after directing Google's communications and public affairs group for nearly a decade, and during his time at GV he's led some notable wins," he added.

Maris is even on the record as saying the Uber deal was Krane's idea, King noted.

"Krane's deep experience in corporate communications ... is likely to result in smoother, more mature GV interchanges with media and investor representatives," he suggested.

Yet, any transition with the top leadership is not without issues or concerns.

"The big question is whether Krane has the same kind of mojo," said Tellus' Blum, "or if he's just the next guy in line."

Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and fitness-related trends for more than a decade. His work has appeared in more than three dozen publications, and he is the co-author of Careers in the Computer Game Industry (Career in the New Economy series), a career guide aimed at high school students from Rosen Publishing. You can connect with Peter on Google+.

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