Crossing the street

After four and a half of the best years of my professional life, I have made the very tough decision to leave Twitter. I’m crossing the street — literally and figuratively — to join Frontline Ventures as a venture partner.

I’ve had a tremendous run at Google and Twitter, but after a decade at US multinationals, I’m ready for something new. Having led businesses very large and very small, I enjoy the building phase most of all.

Frontline is an early-stage VC firm with offices in Dublin and London — and ambitious plans for the future. They have made 22 software investments in the UK and Ireland in the past three years, and I see a lot of potential in that portfolio. I hope my high-growth operating experience will be of benefit to some of these companies as they scale.

And, most important, Frontline has a superb team: I’ve known Shay Garvey for many years through the Harvard Business School alumni network, and more recently I’ve gotten to know Will, William, Kim, Ruth and Thomas.

There’s a lot of talk in Europe about the connection — or lack thereof — between multinationals and startups. I’ve been asked about this by journalists many times, often in terms of competition for talent. I have always replied that I see them as two sides of the same coin. Multinationals and startups both entice talent into tech clusters, such as Dublin, London, or Berlin.

I’m a case in point — I moved back to Ireland from the US in 2005, having spent almost a decade abroad, to take a job at Google. Had it not been for Dublin’s multinationals, I would today still be living in the US, rather than joining Europe’s thriving startup community.

I’m drawn to the variety, flexibility, and learning potential of the Frontline role. But I will miss Twitter greatly, especially working with some of the finest people in the industry. And I continue to believe in the importance of the Twitter service, which is more relevant culturally than it has ever been. I vividly recall walking into a 4-person office in early 2012: no people, no customers — just an IKEA couch and a vision to build Twitter’s EMEA headquarters. We grew rapidly to over 200 people, 20 functions, and one of the most vibrant and senior offices at Twitter. I’m proud of what we’ve built in EMEA— not just our business, but our business culture — and the final part of my job is to ensure a smooth transition.

I’m delighted to announce that, as of 1st July, Mark Little will take over my role as MD of Twitter in Ireland. Mark is a Twitter evangelist through and through, and his leadership experience as founder and CEO of Storyful sets him up perfectly for the role. (His soothing baritone is a bonus. That voice!) Surrounding Mark in the Dublin office is Twitter’s deepest leadership bench outside the US. The EMEA HQ and business are in very safe hands. It’s a brilliant role and you will be brilliant in it. The styrofoam blue bird is now yours! Good luck, Mark!

I’ll be crossing the street to Frontline shortly. I can’t wait to get started. Stay tuned for more stories about the crossing…

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