Former Badoo COO and ex-Googler Ben Ling has joined Khosla Ventures, according to sources. Ling, who has held senior operations roles for a number of big companies in the mobile and Internet space, has been added to a growing team at Vinod Khosla's venture firm. (Update: Khosla Ventures just confirmed Ling has joined, starting this week.)
Ling most recently served as COO of Badoo, where he was hired to oversee product, engineering, partnerships, and business operations at the company. Ling joined Badoo in May 2012, but he left after only about six months.
Prior to Badoo, Ling spent a number of years at Google, where his last role included overseeing images, videos, books, news, and finance as its senior director of search products and local business products. At YouTube, Ling was senior director of partnerships and platform, where he was responsible for music, movies, sports and news, as well as mobile, TV and API partnerships. In his first role at Google, he oversaw the company's e-commerce products, including Google Checkout and Product Search.
At Facebook, he served as the director of Facebook Platform, working on developer relations at the fledgling social network. There he helped build Facebook Connect, which is the social network's hook into a number of third-party websites.
In addition to his senior operations roles, Ling has also been an active angel investor and advisor to startups. Recent investments include Fab.com, Palantir, Square, PracticeFusion, and Quora. Ling has also held an advisory position at Pinterest and Pulse.
“In terms of thinking about my next steps, and thinking about what I could do next, I wanted to maximize the impact I could have by helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses,” Ling said. He said that the opportunity at Khosla Ventures enables him to do that, since there are a lot of “parallels and similarities” to what he was doing as an angel investor - evaluating teams and talent, helping companies scale and with their hiring strategies.
Ling said that we can probably expect to see him make investments in a lot of the same areas that he's worked in previously - that includes companies focused on e-commerce or shopping, developer networks, search, finance, and local. He's also had some experience with three-sided ecosystem businesses, such as the Facebook platform's network of users, developers and advertisers.
Of course, Ling isn't the only operations specialist to join Khosla Ventures. His hire comes just a few months after former Square COO Keith Rabois joined the firm.
Part of the reason Khosla Ventures has been interested in bringing on entrepreneurs with that type of experience is that they can provide guidance for startups who need operational experience. Rabois, who is now 10 weeks in at Khosla Ventures, said, “Our organizing philosophy is to provide assistance to entrepreneurs and help them to build the most interesting companies they can… It's about understanding what entrepreneurs need is less capital and more formative advice. Every time we evaluate a company we ask whether we can help this entrepreneur build something special.”
Both Ling and Rabois say that they've been impressed with the quality of entrepreneurs and the quality of the Khosla Ventures team as it works with those startups. With that in mind, Rabois said he's really excited about building several big businesses as part of the Khosla Ventures team.