Maris, a neuroscientist by training, built Google Ventures (now called GV) into one of the more idiosyncratic venture firms — relying on data science for its investment decisions and a seemingly endless stream of capital from its parent, Google.
During his tenure, Maris also dipped into other parts of Google’s world, reportedly helping form Calico, the secretive health operation that sits under Google parent Alphabet.
As Recode reported, Maris will be replaced by David Krane, one of his current GV deputies.
Maris spoke briefly with Recode Wednesday night about his decision to depart. The interview below has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Recode: First off, why are you leaving?
Bill Maris: I have an 11-month-old son and a wife. And I legitimately want to spend more time with them. It’s mission accomplished for me. Eight years is longer than I thought I would spend.
GV is seen as a premier venture capital operation around the world. If it weren’t in great shape, that would be the wrong time to leave. I’m leaving because everything is great.
David [Krane] is a dear friend and completely prepared and the right person to take it on. I want to give him the room to use his imagination.
I’m a creative person. I need quiet and some solitude and some time. And I think a month or two will help me incubate some ideas.
So you may have something new soon?
Who knows about the creative process. You should definitively expect to see something from me. I’m not just going to go on the beach this week.
Here’s another piece of it: For the last eight years, most everything at GV was designed by me. It comes to my phone or my laptop. I don’t think I’ve ever turned my phone off — other than on a plane — because I think I’m disappointing someone. Some founder or partner. It will be nice not to feel that anxiety.
Did your departure have anything to do with the Alphabet changes?
It has nothing to do with Alphabet. Because Alphabet has nothing to do with us at all. We’ve been independent since day one.
What are you most proud of at GV?
I’m proud of the team that we put together — one that was so caring and giving. I’ve learned a lot from them. They say your team is like a family — but it’s not like a family because you choose to be with them.
If you love the people that you spend your day with, that’s a recipe for happiness. I’m proud that we’re able to attract such great people.
What about on the investment side?
I’m really passionate about the life sciences work that we’ve done. I love that team and they’re incredibly talented. They’re doing things that affect patients at the end of the day. That’s where I spent a lot of my time lately.
We’ve seen that in the investment numbers — an increase in biotech and health. Was that why you cut back on early stage investments? Or in Europe?
Market forces. When you have a two and a half billion dollar fund, a seed investment has to take time to move the needle.
In terms of Europe, it was an ebb and the flow. I’m super optimistic there. In fact, one of the deals we did there, Kobalt Music Group, is one that I drove.
What about any board seats at GV?
I didn’t have any. I tried to avoid boards as much as I could.
So will the next move be as an investor or an entrepreneur?
I don’t know. I love the investment world because it’s so highly leveraged. If you’re a polymath or have a short attention span — me being the latter of the two — you can get to work on anything.
If you look at the team at GV, one thing that they have in common: What they are doing now is not what they started with their careers. They can do anything.
Maybe I’ll become a magician. It’s hard to say.