Arielle Zuckerberg, the youngest sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is joining Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers next month in a bid by the firm to inject youth and diversity into its line-up of partners.
TechCrunch understands from sources near the VC firm that Zuckerberg, a former Googler who is currently a product manager with phone management app firm Humin, will start her new role as associate partner for Kleiner Perkins on October 19. (Kleiner Perkins declined to comment when we contacted the company.) Our source tells us that the 26-year-old — the youngest of the four Zuckerberg siblings — is being brought on as “personable” partner to interface with and relate to early-stage startups for the firm’s growth fund.
That’s just one side of the new hire. Zuckerberg is one of three new arrivals aimed at bringing on younger and, most importantly, more diverse additions. Speaking on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco today, Kleiner Perkins general partner John Doerr announced two new partners — Swati Mylavarapu, formerly of Square, and Muzzammil Zaveri, formerly of Tencent — while hinting at another unnamed hire joining soon — that’s Zuckerberg.
“I made it really clear even at Kleiner Perkins, where I’m deeply committed to diversity, we have done more and should do more to get to a 50/50 world where everyone can make a difference. We can be better,” Doerr told interviewer Colleen Taylor.
Despite the potential to be overshadowed by big brother Mark Zuckerberg and elder sister Randi, Arielle has developed a reputation for being reluctant to cash in on her name and she appears acutely aware of diversity issues.
“I don’t know how to solve men’s problems… and I think there’s a lot of evidence that men don’t know how to solve women’s problems,” she told the New York Post last year. “It’s not just women. Companies that don’t have diverse employees are putting themselves at a disadvantage.”
Hiring a young female with a growing reputation is a major win for Kleiner Perkins, particularly given the company’s high-profile court case with Ellen Pao, who filed a lawsuit accusing the firm of gender discrimination. Though the jury ruled against Pao on all four of her claims, the affair was hugely damaging for the reputation of the firm, which counts numerous other women among its ranks, including Mary Meeker and Beth Seidenberg.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has seemingly been in repair mode since. In June, it carved out $4 million for a new fund, dubbed KPCB Edge, in an effort to regain its status as a go-to venture capital firm for young entrepreneurs, including by bringing in three newer and younger employees: Anjney Midha, 23; Ruby Lee, 23; and Roneil Rumburg, 22.
But a reported deal to “acquire” Social+Capital to bolt on a fresher approach to venture investing fell apart earlier this year.
In July, speaking at a conference, Doerr went as far as saying of the venture industry more broadly: “We collectively are pathetic on the issue. Six percent of venture capitalists are female…that’s just dumb.”
Gender and equality issues aren’t the only areas where Kleiner Perkins has been challenged. The firm has struggled for the kind of success that rival firms’ have enjoyed. For example, it jumped into investments like Twitter, Facebook and, reportedly, Snapchat, later than some of its longtime peers. Other investments, including Zynga and Quirky (which just filed for bankruptcy), have meanwhile produced disappointing results.