People Briefs, September 2011


Magic Johnson

is heading to Detroit. The Hall of Fame NBA star and entrepreneur is joining Detroit Venture Partners, where he will work alongside Josh Linkner, founder and chairman of ePrize; Dan Gilbert, founder & chairman of Quicken Loans and majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers; and Brian Hermelin, founder and chairman of the private equity firm Rockbridge Growth Equity. Detroit Venture Partners—which characterizes itself as a group of “street fighters” on a “crazed mission”—aims to revitalize Detroit by backing early stage startups.

Bill Ready has joined Accel Partners as an executive-in-residence. Ready joined Accel from iPay Technologies, a division of Jack Henry and Associates, where he served as president. With his background in financial technology, Ready fits in with Accel’s investing efforts in the sector, which includes investments in startups such as enStage, Wonga and Pristine.

Former LinkedIn executive DJ Patil has moved to Greylock Partners as chief scientist-in-residence. Patil joined his former boss, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, at the firm, where Hoffman serves as a partner. Most recently, Patil was at Color Labs, a location-based photo sharing service that raised $41 million in venture funding from investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.

European firm Wellington Partners added Niklas Eklund as a venture partner. The serial entrepreneur will work on digital media investments, and help Wellington seek out Nordic and other European opportunities. Eklund has a history with the firm: he was previously co-founder and CEO of Wellington portfolio company Livebookings.

Juan-Pablo Mas was appointed a senior associate on the life sciences team of Morgenthaler Ventures, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based VC investor. He will work on life sciences and medical device investments. Prior to joining Morgenthaler, Mas held positions with Medtronic and Eli Lilly & Co.Greg Kouvelas has joined Seven Hills Group as a managing director. Previously, Kouvelas was a managing director at Innovation Advisors where he headed its Silicon Valley office. He’s also worked as a director at ING Barings and as a vice president at Robertson Stephens, where he worked alongside the founders of Seven Hills in the 1990s.


Alex Kinnier

and Jim Kim left Khosla Ventures in mid-August, just months after the firm filed to raise a $1.05 billion fund. Both Kim and Kinnier were partners and specialized in renewable energy, a focus of Khosla Ventures. VCJ last year identified Kinnier as one of 10 top young venture capitalists. Kinnier now plans to start his own company, a move that founding partner Vinod Khosla called “standard.” It is unclear what Kim intends to do next. Earlier this year, Gideon Yu, a partner at Khosla Ventures, left the firm to join the San Francisco 49ers as a chief strategy officer. After that, the firm hired Ryan Kottenstette, who has a background in lithium-ion batteries.

Mitch Lasky, general partner at Benchmark Capital, is dialing back his role with the venture firm. Lasky is one of seven GPs in Benchmark’s seventh fund and will remain in that capacity for between the next 18 and 24 months, the firm said in August. Prior to joining Benchmark, he was chairman and CEO of Jamdat Mobile, a mobile gaming company backed by Benchmark and which was bought by Electronic Arts for $680 million in 2006. Lasky is the third GP to begin transitioning out of Benchmark this year. In January, General Partners Bob Kagle and Alex Balkanski said they would not be part of its seventh fund, which closed earlier this year with $425 million in commitments.