We are happy to announce David Thacker as Greylock’s newest general partner. David is coming back to Greylock after an impressive career in senior product leadership at some of the most iconic technology companies in the world including LinkedIn and Google. He will be focused on investing across consumer and B2B2C technology.
The current health and economic challenges facing our world are weighing heavily on entrepreneurs and startups. We’re in a difficult and stressful time, and unfortunately many businesses will be hard hit by the economic downturn. During this time, it’s especially important that investors and board members provide thoughtful advice and steady partnership to entrepreneurs.
We’ve known David for more than a decade. He first joined our investing team during the last economic recession in January 2009 and was a key contributor to our investment team through mid 2011. We are proud to add David to our investing team because we know he will shine in good times and in bad, and has the intellect, integrity and heart to be an amazing partner.
David is joining Greylock from his most recent role as VP of Product Management & User Experience at Google. At Google, he leads a team of 350 product managers, designers, and user researchers that are responsible for Google’s productivity and collaboration products (G Suite) including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Chat, Meet, Voice, Sites, Keep and Forms. In aggregate, these cloud applications have more than 2 billion monthly active users across the consumer, enterprise, and education segments. Over 6 million businesses pay for G Suite, representing a key part of the overall Google Cloud business.
The products that David oversees at Google are making it possible for people to work remotely and stay connected to their teams, families and friends. Sheltering in place is dramatically shifting our habits and behaviors. We expect to see continued innovation in these remote collaboration tools for both businesses and consumers, and David will be a great resource to entrepreneurs working in these areas.
Here’s a bit more about our personal experiences with David, what motivates and inspires him, and why we think he’s going to be an incredible partner to entrepreneurs who are building companies that matter.
When I joined Greylock as an entrepreneur in residence in late 2008, James and I sat down to brainstorm candidates from my Google product manager network. I had worked with some stunningly great people in my 5+ years there, and yet one name was at the top of my list: my former cubemate and PM colleague – David Thacker. He was a rapidly rising star who was deeply respected across the company, so it took some work to land him, but I was thrilled to get the chance to work with him again when he joined the investment team.
This isn’t David’s first rodeo when it comes to helping entrepreneurs weather tough times. Six months after he joined, the consumer confidence index posted its lowest ever score, with Americans almost twice as pessimistic as we had been since its measurement began in 1967. In the midst of this full-blown recession, capital was scarce and even viable business models failed. Yet David and James found the conviction to lead the Series A for my marketing tech company, TellApart, and they both rolled up their sleeves as we got to work.
As a first-time founder and CEO, I was incredibly fortunate to have David on my broader team. In those early days, he helped me interview and recruit many candidates and was a go-to sounding board as I negotiated my first customer contracts. In the boardroom, he was contrarian, consistent and convincing, and his early influence greatly contributed to the ultimate success of TellApart.
His strategic ability to help me see around corners was unmatched, and I remember one board meeting in early 2011 where he pushed us to define how we might leverage the Facebook ads platform. At the time, Facebook was still relatively tiny compared to our other partners, yet David could see the growing impact the company would have on both users and the ecosystem. Cringing as I now look back, I flippantly dismissed the question. And yet David was consistent and persevered, ending every subsequent board meeting with, “What is your Facebook strategy?” I finally woke up a year later and staffed our best engineers on a special co-development project with Facebook, going from design to launch in less than eight weeks. Within two years, Facebook was TellApart’s largest partner by reach and revenue.
As I reflect on TellApart’s journey and its culmination as Twitter’s largest to-date acquisition, I know our success — truly, our binary chance of even being successful — was made all the more possible and significant because of David’s partnership. I could not be more excited to bring this full circle and begin working with him again side by side!
At Greylock, our mission is to help realize rare potential. To us, this means that we love to get involved at the early stages, when the future success of a business is still far from clear. And we love to dig in with talented entrepreneurs to help them build important, lasting companies.
To do this well, we believe it’s essential to be great partners to entrepreneurs along all the stages of this journey. We want investing partners who have strong judgment and are independent thinkers, so they can identify opportunities early and can apply their past operating and Board experience to provide excellent advice to entrepreneurs. We want partners who are fueled by a positive competitive drive to win, to invest in and help build outlier companies. And we want partners who are humble and collaborative, who have high integrity, and who are massively respected by former colleagues. In short, we want people who can drive exceptional performance while also being highly trusted partners along the way. We see this rare combination in David.
During his first time at Greylock, David’s investment judgement, independent thinking and hustle were key factors in several very successful investments.
David reached out to Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman because David was impressed with Redfin’s product, and saw promise in their end-to-end real estate model (agents, not just an app), long before end-to-end businesses were in vogue. The business did around $10 million in revenue that first year we invested, went public in 2017, and generated revenue of $780 million in 2019.
Our investment in Pandora was another good example of David’s ability to see opportunity before it was clear to others. David took the first meeting with Pandora by himself and then pulled on several others at Greylock to meet the company. Pandora and their competitors in the online music business were on the ropes, and it was unclear if the company had a viable economic model. It was at the height of an era when, in David’s words, “It felt like the world was falling apart.” Despite these headwinds, David pushed us to do the deal because he saw the strength of the team and the potential of their early move into the iPhone/app store ecosystem. In the decade to follow, Pandora scaled their business to $1.5 billion of annualized revenue and went on to become one of the bigger consumer outcomes in that period.
While David had strong interest in building a career in venture capital, he knew he wasn’t done operating in the field. So he went out and built up a set of experiences that will make him an indispensable asset to founders and management teams.
In addition to David’s current Google experience, David previously managed products across LinkedIn’s business lines including Premium Subscriptions, Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions and Sales Solutions. These products included a mix of enterprise SaaS tools, advertising products, and consumer subscriptions — generating about $4B in annualized revenue at the time. The Talent Solutions products helped millions of people find jobs through LinkedIn each year.
David is wrapping up at Google and officially starts with us later in May. If you are a founder who is interested in connecting with David, please feel free to reach out at dthacker (at) greylock (dot) com.