Daniel Burka, Kevin Rose’s longtime co-conspirator from Digg and ill-fated mobile shop Milk, has just joined the team at Google Ventures.
“Very excited to announce our latest Design Partner @GoogleVentures, @dburka!” Rose tweeted.
A Google Ventures spokesperson tells VentureBeat, “Daniel has joined our Design Studio, where he’ll be consulting to our portfolio companies on product design.”
Burka was Digg’s creative director from 2005 to 2009, a time when the site rose to huge prominence and directed an enormous amount of traffic around the web — and a time when Rose, Digg’s founder, was still heavily involved in the site’s day-to-day operations.
Burka was also involved with Pownce, a social media tool from Rose and developer guru Leah Culver, in 2007. He teamed up with Rose a third time in 2011 to start Milk, which the founders hoped would become a mobile application super-lab. Milk was bought by Google in 2012 and its sole app, Oink, shut down.
Burka worked on mobile design for Google+ between March 2012 and now. With today’s annoucement, he’s heading in quite a different direction, one that will have him sharing office space, time, and expertise with dozens of startups each year.
Rose himself went over to Google Ventures earlier this year. Although GV shares a name with its parent company, it operates as a separate entity, investing in projects and products that compete with similar offerings from Google. However, GV startups do get the benefit of the full Google network, from recruitment help to machine learning tutorials to hands-on, weeks-long sprints to spruce up code and design.
The latter is what Burka will be doing. In his new profile on the Google Ventures site, we read that Burka will have a hands-on role with the GV portfolio companies. And if Burka works on Rose’s picks (Rose is a partner with a more traditional investment role), he’ll likely be influencing designs in very formative stages.
“It’s really easy to find Series A and Series B companies that are already on a path to success, then you invest in them and double down,” Rose said in a recent interview with VentureBeat. ”The most exciting thing to me is when it’s just in the wireframe stage. It’s just a seed of an idea, and it’s the boldest thing you can do in investing.”
But, as the GV rep told us, Burka will have his hands full of other startups, as well. “We’ve funded 150 companies so far, and all of them have access to our Design Studio when they need design resources. ”
It’s yet another feather in the Google Ventures cap: a highly visible, highly successful micro-celebrity in the world of digital design to mentor and “fix” its portfolio companies. And that’s something Google Ventures’ competitors, from Y Combinator on down, will definitely notice and likely envy.
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