Kobalt champion Bill Maris stepping down as Google Ventures boss

Google Ventures CEO Bill Maris is leaving the company, and is set to be replaced by managing partner David Krane.

Maris will step down from the role this Friday (August 12), according to a report on Re/Code.

The exec led many successful investments at Google Ventures – Alphabet’s venture capital investment arm – since he founded it in 2009.

These punts, using GV’s $2bn+ fund, have included investments in Uber, Jet.com and Nest.

And in the music business, Maris has shown himself to be a big fans of another company which has taken on significant Google Ventures funding – Kobalt.

Maris drove a deal last year which saw Google Ventures lead a $60m investment round into Kobalt.

As a result, GV is believed to own a single digit percentage stake in Kobalt, led by CEO Willard Ahdritz.

“[Kobalt’s] solid execution over the past decade coupled with Willard’s unwavering passion and commitment made this an attractive investment for us,” said Maris when the deal was announced last February.

“Kobalt is positioned as one of the most innovative brands in media today.”

Bill Maris, GV

“Kobalt’s commitment to trust, transparency and technology has positioned it as one of the most innovative brands in media today.”

But Maris’s affection for Kobalt goes beyond mere business opportunity.

It’s personal.

Maris’s wife is Tristan Prettyman, a songwriter and artist from San Diego who was signed to Virgin Records until 2013, where she released two albums – 2005’s TwentyThree and 2008’s Hello.

“I happen to be married to a professional touring musician, a singer-songwriter… and I discovered how messed up the music business is,” he told Quartz in May last year.

“I discovered how messed up the music business is.”

Bill Maris, GV

“Is it even a business? In what other industry can you provide a product, get no information on who bought it, how many times it sold, and then a year later get a cheque with no explanation?

“I think there is a lot of corruption in that payment chain. Kobalt wants to bring transparency to that.”

The Kobalt investment was also particularly significant for Maris because it represented a rare GV investment in Europe – Kobalt was born in Sweden, but is a registered UK company.

In its report of his exit from GV, The Financial Times rumours that Maris’s “abrasive style made him enemies in some corners of Google, including in Europe”.

It suggests that Maris closed a European fund at the end of last year, claiming it was “more efficient for Google to make all its investments out of a single pool”.Music Business Worldwide

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