Exclusive: Google Commerce Exec Tilenius Departs for Kleiner
Stephanie Tilenius, the eBay exec who Google hired away to jumpstart its commerce and mobile payments efforts, is departing the company to become an executive-in-residence at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“The pace of innovation is so unprecedented, especially in social and mobile,” she said in an interview this morning. “I wanted the ability to help scale a few start-ups, instead of building products in a large company.”
Tilenius has much experience in both arenas, having co-founded and led PlanetRx.com in Web 1.0, as well as working at software start-up Firefly, AOL and Intel before that. She holds a BA and MA from Brandeis University and an MBA from Harvard.
Tilenius joined eBay in 2001 and worked across a wide variety of its businesses, including running the merchant service group of its powerful PayPal payments unit and also on its key Marketplace offering.
Tilenius took an even more prominent operating role when she joined Google and ended up shepherding Google Wallet, one of the search giant’s most significant efforts in commerce. Tilenius’s first job at Google was leading its commerce efforts and in product search, but she founded Google Wallet as a kind of skunkworks within the company.
It is now part of an integrated offering, in which users have a one-payment account to cover purchases across Android Market, YouTube, Google+ Games and other of the company’s properties.
“We have built one wallet in the cloud,” she said.
Tilenius was one of the main executives to unveil Google Wallet at an event in New York last year. She also demonstrated the product at our D: All Things Digital conference in 2011.
Tilenius had also been the key player in Google’s unsuccessful attempt to buy Groupon. After that, Google then launched Google Offers to compete with the daily deals site.
The various payments initiatives by Google also attracted controversy, when PayPal filed suit against Tilenius – as well as Osama Bedier, Google’s VP of payments and former PayPal executive. The payments unit of eBay claimed they and Google misappropriated trade secrets and violated contracts involving recruiting agreements.
In January, Tilenius shifted roles to oversee Google’s commerce efforts internationally.
Perhaps by coincidence, since the firm has been talking about bringing her in for months, Tilenius is the second major hire of a woman at the well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, in the wake of a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman partner, Ellen Pao. A month ago, Kleiner hired former Square product exec Megan Quinn as a partner to focus on consumer Internet investments.
Kleiner recently filed an answer to Pao’s legal action, maintaining it was her own performance that kept her from advancing at the firm.
Tilenius declined to comment on the case.
At Kleiner, Tilenius will be working closely with a number of partners, although she will be focusing on late-stage companies in its $1 billion Digital Growth Fund. She also might be incubating some ideas of her own, she said.
Kleiner partner Ted Schlein said Tilenius would be a “tremendous resource” for the firm.
“When talent becomes available to focus on different opportunties in portfolio, we jump at that,” he said. “Stephanie has the experience in some of the largest scaling of businesses in the Valley, as well as an entrepreneurial background, so it is ideal for us.”
Tilenius said the move was “less about Google than working on the next generation of companies.”
She said she had some ideas in mobile commerce, especially given her experience at Google and eBay, as well as in the healthcare area.
“I think it is really early days in mobile and retail is going to be transformed,” said Tilenius. “There are a lot of players, but it is a marathon.”
Here’s a video of Tilenius in action, showing off Google Wallet at D9: