LinkedIn Co-Founder Joins Earlybird As Valley Partner

By David Knight |

Berlin VC firm Earlybird has added another feather to its cap by appointing LinkedIn co-founder Konstantin Guericke as a venture partner in Silicon Valley. He will act as an advisor to startups in Earlybird’s portfolio – set to grow rapidly thanks to the new $100m fund – as they expand from Europe into the US.

Konstantin grew up in Germany but has lived in the States for 20 years, and he told Silicon Allee in an exclusive interview about his new role promoting startups from Berlin and the rest of the country, and what has driven him to accept it.

He said: “I would like to see if one of the Earlybird portfolio companies that come out of this current fund can become a household name in the US and worldwide. To me that would be the outcome I’m shooting for.”

Whilst Konstantin will help advise the Earlybird team in Germany on potential investments, his main focus will be on assisting startups already in the portfolio as they look to make the leap to San Francisco. He added: “Some startups will stay and operate completely out of Berlin, and I will advise the as best I can from over here. With others, maybe the CEO decides that they want to relocate more along the Israeli model where the development team and most of the people stay in Israel, but a good part of the management team are focused on getting a Silicon Valley investor involved, and need to be perceived much more as a local company. Those companies will be the ones I work with most closely because then I add a lot more value.”

Konstantin first met the Earlybird team while he was CEO of social communications startup jaxtr, and he also served as vice president of marketing at LinkedIn. He now spends a great deal of time mentoring at Stanford University, his alma mater, and it’s an experience that has clearly influence him greatly.

“There are a lot of things I can be doing with my time, and one of the reasons I selected this is because, similar to Stanford, Germany is very much part of my background; my parents still live there and I have met a lot of German entrepreneurs. I think it will hopefully happen over the next four or five years where we have some big company like SAP emerge that people here (in the US) say, yes, this is a great startup based in Germany. It’ll make for awareness here, so it won’t be only this blank spot on the map that is only for copycats, but even more important is the impact it will have in Germany.”

The appointment is the latest in a series of moves from Earlybird as it seeks to reposition itself to take better advantage of the exploding startup scene in Berlin; a literal move in some respects with the company’s HQ recently being moved to the German capital.

Founded in 1997, the VC firm currently manages over $700 million in assets with, Madvertise, Crowdpark and Smava among the companies in its portfolio.

Earlybird partner Jason Whitmire said: “Konstantin will be integral in the expansion of our successful European portfolio in the US market. He will be a great asset to help us think through and evaluate new investment opportunities.”

Fellow partner Christian Nagel said: “Guericke has a unique mix of German-US entrepreneurial DNA that our platform will benefit from greatly… Konstantin has helped build one of the most successful companies of our time and has become a trusted advisor to numerous top German and US entrepreneurs.”

 Check out our full, in-depth Q&A with Konstantin – including his thoughts on clones and why Berlin needs 40 years to catch up with Silicon Valley.