Following in the footsteps of Google Ventures, Lightbank, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Khosla Ventures has hired its first design partner: ex-Google and Yahoo design pro Irene Au.
In her new role, Au explains that she “will help portfolio companies build design-centric organizations, recruit the world’s best design talent, and lead them through a process towards great design.” Not unlike the aforementioned venture capital firms, Au will help Khosla Ventures teach design thinking to the executive teams in their portfolio.
In a call with VentureBeat, Au shares that she won’t spend her time “moving pixels around for companies.” Instead she’ll help companies answer questions like “What time should I hire a designer?” and “How do you create the conditions for great design?”
“The startup community is really thirsty for this. I have a long history in designing and bringing the Internet to people. I’ve spent the last 20 years in operating roles. I am really thrilled to work with the startup community, because now, more than any other time, there’s incredible interest in bringing design to a whole bunch of people.”
Back at Google, Au ran the company’s entire UX team; interestingly enough, that team included current Google Ventures design partners Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz, and Michael Margolis. Looking back at her time at Google, Au shared: “While I ran UX Google, we created this culture of design sprints. We had a whole playbook.”
Au doesn’t plan to spend her time conducting usability studies as Google Ventures does, but shares that she may organize design sprints. Regardless of her role’s similarities to other firms, Au is certainly a unique talent grab for Khosla and will start at the firm this May.