Chris Hughes has joined General Catalyst, a Boston based venture firm, as their most recent entrepreneur-in-residence. The firm has a portfolio of 65 companies—Kayak and Brightcove are among their bold-faced names—and some $1.8 billion under management. "We closed a fund of $715 million* about a year ago," managing director Neil Sequeira told me by phone. "We’re actively investing. And very excited to have Chris on board." The firm will make the official announcement on its website tomorrow morning.
Having spent the last few months interviewing Hughes for Fast Company's April cover story, "The Kid Who Made Obama President," it was clear that Hughes had been actively soul searching, looking for the right next step. "I’m the kind of person that needs to think things through," he told me more than once. "But when I know what I want to do, I really know."
Though he helped transition MyBarackObama, the online organizing component of the Obama Campaign (it’s now the DNC run Organizing for America) he was not excited about a job in government. "It’s about as far from a start-up as you can get," he laughed. But he hasn’t given up on progressive causes altogether. Earlier this month Hughes confirmed that he’d joined the DC based communications outfit GMMB, a firm he’d become familiar with through their work on the Obama campaign. "I’ll be advising some of their clients a few hours a week," he told me, emphasizing digital engagement strategies. Clients have included the Save Darfur Coalition, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Foundation. But his main gig will keep him moving in start-up circles, giving him the entrepreneurial upside he also craves. Hughes will be based in New York, where he settled after the election, and will be actively working with existing portfolio companies as well as looking for new ideas. "It keeps me active in both worlds," he says.
When I talked to him last week, Hughes sounded relieved to have found the right mix. He’s thinking typically big. "I’ve been in the business of building technology that networks people and makes it easier for people to do ‘x’," he says. "So far, it’s been to communicate and self organize. Depending on what I do next… it may be to learn about the world around them."
After helping to co-found Facebook with Harvard dormmates Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskowitz, Hughes left the growing company in 2007 to help build the brand of another unlikely break-out star, Barack Obama. The inside story of Hughes’s work with the Obama campaign can be found here.
* Apologies: A typo in an earlier post showed the fund at $7.15 million. - EM