Hamoui’s mobile ad platform AdMob was sold to Google in 2009 for $750 million, and Sequoia Capital was one of the first investors in the platform, back when AdMob was a one-man team with Hamoui. After Hamoui left Google, he started the incubator Churn Labs (with which Sequoia partnered, as well) along with AdMob’s first engineer, Mike Rowehl.
Churn Labs spawned a number of startups, including polling company Maybe (acqui-hired by LinkedIn) comic-book reader for the iPad Emanata, and mobile advertising startup Metaresolver (acquired by Millennial Media). He’s also made personal angel investments in Gigwalk, Card.io (acquired by PayPal), and Pocket Gems, among others.
Hamoui explains that he still wanted to be involved with building companies as opposed to taking the traditional VC route after he left Google, which is why he started Churn Labs. But as an angel investor he wasn’t able to really take a meaningful role in the day-to-day work of a startup, and joining a VC firm made sense, especially the firm that originally backed him as a fledgling entrepreneur at AdMob.
“Sequoia is trying to not only build enduring companies, but they really put founders first,” Hamoui tells us. “The firm is in the background but they are part of the grind and put a tremendous amount of work in to help founders build great companies.”
Hamoui recalls when AdMob was considering an offer from Google in 2009, Sequoia and the firm’s lead VC on the deal, Jim Goetz, was the loudest voice against the acquisition. The firm believed that AdMob could be a bigger, even potentially public company. “In retrospect, I think Jim and Sequoia were right to not want to sell,” he adds.
“The last time Omar resided at Sequoia he incubated AdMob. We’re excited to see how he can help founders now that he’ll be sticking around,” said Goetz in a statement.
In terms of what ideas Hamoui is interested in investing in, he says there isn’t a defined focus on what types of companies he’ll be evaluating, but he does still think there is opportunity in mobile ads technology. He’s also bullish on technologies that are changing the real-world economy, and Internet of things, such as companies like Nest, Airbnb and Uber.
Although Hamoui himself has been a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, he maintains that he will still be learning a tremendous amount from Sequoia’s partners. “I want to find and defend things that aren’t huge yet, that people will say will never work, and help bring that to the world,” he says. “Sequoia did this for AdMob, and I want to do this for other entrepreneurs.”