Google Ventures has a penchant for talent. The firm-within-a-company already has a stable of machine learning experts, “big data” Ph.Ds, entrepreneurial gurus, and Internet cool kids advising its quickly growing portfolio.
Today, it’s adding two more: Cyndi Reseburg, a comms pro who’s promoted the likes of Facebook and Path; and Graham Hancock, a video mastermind who most recently held down the fort at Revision3.
The duo will be part of Google Ventures’ already large marketing team, which not only helps to market the firm but also helps its young companies with some of their earliest PR and marketing decisions — when and how to launch, how to attract users, and how to hire the right talent in an industry that’s very good at self-promotion.
And they won’t be simply completing these tasks for the companies; they’ll be teaching them in very hands-on ways how to do it for themselves — an approach that’s part of Google Ventures’ firm-slash-incubator DNA.
In-house marketing at VC firms is becoming a trend in our world, said Google Ventures partner and longtime Googler David Krane during a recent visit to VentureBeat’s San Francisco office. “If you look up and down Sand Hill, it’s becoming fashionable.”
But he thinks GV’s newest hires are of a unique caliber.
“Cyndi … she has a miraculous ability to instantly build rapport with technical founders,” he said, noting that with younger companies, you’ll often have at least one developer on the founding team. If you can’t understand their nascent idea and product, they can’t trust you to help promote it. So trust by way of technical expertise is very important.
“This is someone who can establish immediate credibility with our technical founders,” said Krane. “Her style is not aggressive, it’s not invasive. She’s very supportive, and she’s an excellent teacher.”
Reseburg, who used to work at OutCast and The Hatch Agency, will be evaluating the portfolio’s and the fund’s needs, new launches, new funding deals, and speaking engagements as well as anticipating incoming deals and, as Krane said, “how to help companies with their ‘hello, world’ moment.”
As for Hancock, Krane said, “He came to us through the wondrous network of Kevin Rose.” He’s actually the second of Rose’s comrades hired by the firm.
Rose is one of the firm’s newer partners. A young entrepreneur best known for Digg, he actually got his start in media. After he took his new job at Google, he brought on Daniel Burka, a designer and longtime co-conspirator on web projects.
Hancock also worked with Rose, who was a Revision3 founder back in 2005. Hancock has also been working with Rose on his ongoing Foundation video interview series.
“So,” I half-jokingly asked Krane, “will Google Ventures eventually hire all of Kevin Rose’s friends?”
“Trust me, I have a great window into Kevin’s network, and the majority of his friends are ungettable,” the partner replied with a broad smile.
“Graham was unexpected, but you work with him once, and you realize how much one individual can do. … Video may be off-putting or intimidating at first, but with the right skill, you can do it very inexpensively to reach a very large audience. … Video is an extremely authentic, cost-efficient, and powerful tool to convey a story.”
That could be a demo video to show off how a product looks and is supposed to work. It could be an office tour, a founder interview, or even a recruitment reel.
“The tools to capture, edit, and produce it, and the tools to produce it have never been more pervasive and easy to you,” said Krane. “To bring someone on full time at a venture fund who does video is a triple-down bet, for sure.”
Ultimately, he said, marketing and PR will continue to be a huge part of Google Ventures’ offerings to its portfolio. After all, the technical founders the firm attracts already know how to code and, more importantly, how to learn how to code. They’re smart enough to figure out how to file their incorporation documents. They get how big data analytics work. But communications can still be an intimidating mystery for them.
“Our marketing team has worked with 98 percent of the GV portfolio, nearly 200 companies in four years,” Krane concluded. “Once legal documents are done and the investment courtship is over, the next step [for a portfolio company] is down the hall to the GV marketing team.
“We lift a lot more in the early stage, but we are coaching and always available through the lifecycle of the company.”