Q&A with Rajiv Dutta, Elevation Partners

Former eBay executive Rajiv Dutta today announced that he is joining media/consumer-focused private equity firm Elevation Partners. Dutta’s most recent roles with eBay were as executive vice president and president of eBay Marketplaces, but he previously served as CFO and president of both PayPal and Skype. He also sits on the board of Elevation investment Palm. Expect Dutta to help Elevation raise a second fund sometimes next year…

Q. Why join a private equity firm?

Dutta: I had been at eBay for a really long time, and had run every operatating division of the company. They were great and wonderful businesses and fulfilling jobs. But as I thought about what I wanted to do next, I felt like I had checked those boxes. I’ve been part of a startup. I’ve been part of a rising star. I’ve been part of a European business.

So I wanted to find something different that could still match what I’d been doing in terms of intellectual diversity, in terms of fun and in terms of great people. I spent the better part of a year trying to figure it out.

I’ve known [Elevation partner] Fred Anderson for a long time, and have gotten to know the others. They have a view of private equity that is very different of what I’d considered private equity to be. They have an operational perspective that plays right into what I’ve been doing all my professional life.

Q. Elevation was the losing bidder in the Skype auction, originally partnering with the founders. Were you part of that attempt?

I’d prefer not to comment on that, because I’ve been trying to stay out of that discussion on all levels. I knew Index Ventures very well, and eBay and Skype and Elevation and the founders. I just tried to keep my distance.

Q. Would you have taken an executive role with Skype had Elevation won?

No.

Q. What do you bring to Elevation that it doesn’t already have?

The team at Elevation is incredibly qualified and has a great range of experience, but I think I have a different background in that I’ve run businesses in a lot of different industries. I spent around 10 years in biotech and was part of a transformational ecommerce company then a transformational telephony business and then a payments business.