Google said that venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who had joined the company’s board in 1999 when he became an investor, has resigned (see statement).
The stated reason was that it will allow him to focus more time on his investment responsibilities for Sequoia Capital. That’s quite plausible, given Moritz’s seven year long tenure. We remember how impatient he was with the Google co-founders when they took more than a year to hire Eric Schmidt as chief executive. He even threatened to pull his money. “I felt I grew tusks,” he told us in a 2003 interview. An impatient man. Still, to resign from the board of what many would argue is the world’s most dynamic company — that’s a big step.
Update: Moritz is busier than we’d realized. He sits on the boards of at least ten Sequoia portfolio companies, reports Dow Jones. They include Watertown, Mass.-based lithium-ion battery company A123Systems Inc., Santa Monica, Calif.-based rental service Gamefly Inc., Mountain View, Calif.-based professional networking company Plaxo Inc., and San Francisco-based online shoe store Zappos.com Inc. More info on Moritz’s investments here.
Some people have criticized Moritz for the Google acquisition of YouTube, where Moritz was also a board member. YouTube has since been sued by large media company Viacom. However, we don’t see any evidence yet that Google has internally regretted the aquisition, and besides, the decision to buy YouTube included many other head-strong people, including the Google co-founders and almost certainly was not dominated by Moritz’s influence. Still, Dow Jones’ Jonathan Schieber quotes Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry this morning (sub required), who says the resignation isn’t enough. “It’s because of him that Google has these problems,” he said. “Google should return the money it paid for YouTube to investors.”
Update II: An anonymous source tells Valleywag that the real reason is that there’s a conflict between Moritz’s position on the board of Google and an investment he has in another search engine company, currently secret. This is interesting, but we’ll treat it as rumor unless someone can give us some leads to back it up. Note that Moritz stepped down from Yahoo’s board a few years ago when it became clear that Google was eating its lunch. Also note that Moritz chose to stay with the more interesting, up-and-coming company.]