Kara Swisher

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As Expected, Former Square COO Rabois Joins Khosla Ventures


As I previously reported was likely, former Square COO Keith Rabois will be joining Khosla Ventures as a venture capitalist.

The well-known entrepreneur left the prominent San Francisco-based payments company in the midst of unproven allegations of personal misconduct a month ago.

Rabois, who will start in March, has a lot of informal investing experience as a longtime angel, and is on many public boards, such as Yelp and Xoom, but for the most part, he has played the No. 2 to a string of high-profile entrepreneurs, including Peter Thiel at PayPal, Max Levchin at Slide and, most recently, Jack Dorsey at Square.

And, in fact, Rabois was considering another job like that, deciding between Khosla and a top job at Airbnb, the San Francisco online rentals startup.

But he chose Khosla, he said in a blog post, because he has long wanted to formalize his interest in investing.

Wrote Rabois: “I moved to Silicon Valley in 2000, joining a bunch of misfits who had some provocative ideas about how the world should work. Three years later, I started investing to enable other driven people to chase their dreams. I quickly discovered that the more companies I invested in, the more brilliant and inspirational new people I could encourage. As a result, for twelve years I harboured dreams of becoming a VC who did this every day for a long time.”

The choice of two very attractive alternatives is in stark contrast to the more tense situation for Rabois just a month ago, after accusations of sexual harassment arose related to a relationship he had with a Square employee.

Rabois has denied the allegations aimed at him and at the San Francisco payments company, which have not yet turned into a lawsuit, and has thus far been backed by Square. Rabois called the accusations by the employee “fiction” and a “shakedown.”

That said, due to the controversy around the serious workplace issue, he stepped down from his job as COO.

Square founder and CEO Jack Dorsey endorsed the move in a statement:

“I couldn’t be more excited to see two of the top entrepreneurs I know, join forces at Khosla Ventures to support and coach the next generation of entrepreneurs the world over,” Dorsey said.

Here’s the official press release from Khosla:

Keith Rabois Joins the Khosla Ventures Team

Angel investor, Internet Entrepreneur and Hands-On Advisor
Brings His Experience to Khosla’s Broad Portfolio of Companies

MENLO PARK, Calif., February 26, 2013 — Khosla Ventures, a venture assistance firm that focuses on sustainability and technology startups, announced today that Keith Rabois, a former PayPal, LinkedIn and Slide executive, will join the firm. Most recently Keith was chief operating officer at Square, a Khosla Ventures portfolio company, where he oversaw all aspects of business operations, including marketing, communications, business development, distribution, human resources and risk management.

While serving in executive roles, he has also developed a distinguished track record angel investing in technology companies, such as YouTube, Yammer, Airbnb, LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), Quora, Palantir, and Eventbrite.

He will begin his new role at Khosla in March 2013.

“I love Khosla Ventures’ vision and passion for assisting the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Keith Rabois. “The Khosla team encourages entrepreneurs to be bold. And the team’s legendary work ethic ensures that entrepreneurs will receive the best possible assistance.”

“We are thrilled to have Keith join us as he has shown himself to be a great investor, but even more importantly he’s a true advisor. Our extensive conversations with entrepreneurs repeatedly elicited comments like, ‘he asks the toughest questions’, ‘he pushes me the most and makes me think’, ‘he is always there when I need help’, ‘he is the most valuable among all my board members and advisors’, ‘he can imagine the future’,” said Vinod Khosla, founding partner of Khosla Ventures. “Our belief in bringing the best venture assistance to our companies is why we’re very excited about the newest addition to the Khosla Ventures team. He truly has earned the right to advise companies.”

Jack Dorsey, the CEO and founder of Square added, “I couldn’t be more excited to see two of the top entrepreneurs I know, join forces at Khosla Ventures to support and coach the next generation of entrepreneurs the world over.”

Keith currently holds board roles at Xoom (NASDAQ: XOOM), since June 2003, and Yelp (NYSE: YELP), since September 2005.

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