Polaris names new venture partner

Polaris Partners said Wednesday that it has hired Gary Swart as a venture partner. Previously, Polaris was the CEO of oDesk.


June 18, 2014 – San Francisco, CA – – Polaris Partners today announced that veteran technology executive Gary Swart will join the firm as a Venture Partner, based out of its San Francisco office. Swart comes to Polaris after a highly-successful tenure as the CEO of oDesk, the world’s largest online workplace, where he grew the business to more than $1 billion in work flowing through its platform before merging with Elance earlier this year. He will begin investing as part of the Polaris technology team, with a sharp focus on West Coast opportunities, in September 2014.

Polaris Managing Partner Dave Barrett expressed enthusiasm for the expertise and energy that Swart will bring to both the firm’s established portfolio as well as new investments:

“To Polaris, Gary Swart represents the quintessential partner. He has proven himself to be an accomplished entrepreneur, leader and mentor in the technology industry. He is incredibly generous with his time and deep knowledge of marketplaces and workplaces. And – most importantly – Gary is passionate about making an impact on a grand scale. He understands transformative models and disruptive technologies, how to identify them, how to innovate around them, and how to manage and scale them. Having known Gary for 20 years, I can say with certainty that he will make a huge contribution to our portfolio companies, in building relationships with special entrepreneurs new to Polaris, and to our partnership team.”

In his role at Polaris, Swart will concentrate his efforts on expanding the firm’s existing, substantial portfolio in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. A sought-after industry speaker, prolific influencer, and long-time advisor to entrepreneurs, he will continue to be a strong presence in the start-up ecosystem in pursuit of game-changing opportunities and meaningful connections.

Remarking on his decision to join Polaris, Swart was quick to underscore the imperative of a cultural fit:

“When it came down to charting this new path, I spoke with many impressive people and explored a number of intriguing opportunities,” Swart said. “I chose Polaris because it is a partnership that values culture, curiosity, long-term relationships and follow through. At its core, this firm is rock-solid in its commitment to its portfolio, its entrepreneurs, and its quest to further grow its presence on the West Coast. The partners here ‘walk the walk’ and I can’t wait to join the stride.”

About Gary Swart
Gary Swart will join Polaris Partners as a Venture Partner in September, 2014. He was previously the CEO of oDesk, the world’s largest online workplace with more than one million clients and five million freelancers. Gary guided the company to industry leadership and through a merger with Elance, while serving as a leading voice for the future of work and the emerging online work industry. Prior to oDesk, Gary was the VP of Worldwide Sales for Intellibank, responsible for building the direct and indirect sales organization and channel development. Previous to Intellibank, he was a Business Unit Executive for IBM’s Rational Software Product Group. Gary joined IBM through the acquisition of Rational Software where he ran Western Field Operations and held a number of other senior management positions, including Americas Medium Business Leader, Area Manager, District Manager, and Director of Telesales. Prior to Rational Gary held a number of sales, management, and leadership positions with Pure Software, subsequently Pure-Atria, which previously merged with Rational. Gary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland.

About Polaris Partners
Founded in 1996, Polaris Partners has more than $3.5 billion in capital under management invested into a diverse portfolio of technology and healthcare companies throughout their lifecycles. From the earliest startup phases through the growth stages, Polaris Partners takes minority and majority positions alongside outstanding management teams to help grow industry leading companies. With offices in Boston, San Francisco and Dublin, Polaris partners with an unparalleled network of repeat CEOs, entrepreneurs, top scientists and emerging innovators who are positioned to make a significant impact in their fields and vastly improve the way in which we all live and work. The result: Hundreds of growing companies, thousands of jobs generated, and billions of dollars of value created. For more information, visit: www.polarispartners.com.