News Column

Rabois Joins Khosla After Leaving Square Due to Harassment Claim

February 26, 2013

Jeremy C. Owens, San Jose Mercury News

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Khosla Ventures announced Tuesday that it has hired Keith Rabois, the former chief operating officer of Square who left the San Francisco startup after an allegation of sexual harassment.

Rabois, an influential startup investor who has funneled cash into an "A list" of Web 2.0 companies, will be a partner at the high-profile venture-capital firm beginning in March. He previously was head of business development at PayPal, LinkedIn and Slide, and also sits on the board of Yelp and has invested in such high-profile startups as Airbnb, Path and Yammer.

"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 adviser," Vinod Khosla, founding partner of Khosla Ventures, said in Tuesday's news release, later adding, "He truly has earned the right to advise companies."

In a blog post after leaving Square, the online payments startup launched by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Rabois said that the harassment claim was from a former lover who worked at the company, but claimed that the charge was an attempt at blackmail.

Rabois wrote on Jan. 25 that a letter from an unidentified attorney in New York demanded "a payment of millions of dollars" for the former employee. While admitting it was a mistake to

remain involved with the man after recommending him for a job at the company, Rabois insisted the relationship was consensual and that he did not supervise his former lover. Rabois said he decided to resign to save the company the distraction of a lawsuit.

Dorsey, still the CEO at Square, celebrated the new partnership in Tuesday's news release, signaling the lack of hard feelings between Rabois and his former company. "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.

In the January blog post, Rabois said that he was working on his next startup already and would announce it in a bout a month; instead, his new position at Khosla Ventures was announced almost exactly a month later.

"I love Khosla Ventures' vision and passion for assisting the next generation of entrepreneurs," Rabois said in Tuesday's news release. "The Khosla team encourages entrepreneurs to be bold. And the team's legendary work ethic ensures that entrepreneurs will receive the best possible assistance."

Menlo Park-based Khosla Ventures has invested in and assisted Square along with a host of other Silicon Valley startups, with a particular interest in sustainability. Its namesake, Vinod Khosla, was a cofounder of Sun Microsystems and spent time at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers before striking out on his own.

Staff writer Peter Delevett contributed to this report.

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Source: (c)2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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