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Rhode Island School of Design President John Maeda Departs for Roles at Kleiner Perkins and eBay

John Maeda

John Maeda, the former MIT professor who is a director on the boards of Sonos and Quirky, is leaving his job as president at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design to take a role at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Maeda is expected to join Kleiner Perkins in January as a design partner. He has also been tapped by eBay to lead the company’s newly-created Design Advisory Board as chair, where he’ll spend a minority amount of his time in a role that will report to eBay CEO John Donahoe, the company said in a press release. In that role, Maeda will work with teams across eBay’s Marketplace and enterprise business teams, as well as the PayPal unit.

“I firmly believe that art and design will transform our economy in the 21st century the way that science and technology did in the last century,” Maeda said in a statement. “Joining KPCB was an irresistible opportunity to work alongside talented investment professionals and entrepreneurs to elevate design to the forefront of leadership and innovation.”

Maeda’s move to venture capital is yet another indicator of the design fever that has swept across Silicon Valley over the last two years. In November of 2012, Kleiner Perkins started its own in-house design initiatives which aim to better aid entrepreneurs and their startups. And competing firm Google Ventures has also stepped up its efforts in the field, hiring a number of design-focused partners and associates and planning design-centric events.

In his new position at Kleiner, Maeda will work closely with existing partners Mike Abbott, Megan Quinn and Bing Gordon, all of whom are charged with leading the firm’s Design Council program. He’ll work with the firm’s Design Fellows Program — Kleiner’s mentorship program for college students — as well.

Maeda took the job as president of RISD in 2008. Prior to that, he taught at MIT for 12 years and served as the associate director of research at the MIT Media Lab. He also sits on the board of global advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy.


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