Raj now provides some insight on his time with Epinions, and then sets up the transition into the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program. We begin discussing the EIR program at a high level to prepare for more specific and detailed discussions.
SM: Was the move to Epinions the right move for you? RV: With Epinions I felt that I was part of starting something from the “ground up”, starting with the idea and business issues first. That is ideal because it was really what I wanted to try next, so it was a great fit.
We’d spent a couple of years at Epinions getting the basic technical architecture in place, had settled onto a business model that seemed likely to work. While the company still had some ground to cover to be successful, I felt that we had accomplished what we set out to do to in terms of advancing the company. Epinions went on to merge with Dealtime, went through the IPO as Shopping.com, and finally was acquired by eBay. For me personally, it was an incredible opportunity for learning some new things.
SM: So then you moved on to an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program (EIR). What prompted you to consider becoming an EIR? RV: The opportunity to do this arose through yet another dinner, this time in early 2001 with Adam Grosser. Adam and I had worked together at @Home, and some time after I left to join Epinions, Adam had left to become a partner at Foundation Capital. Adam suggested I think about joining him there as an EIR.
SM: What was the deciding factor to go with Foundation? Was it just the good advice of Adam, or did you know much about EIR programs at that time? RV: The only reason I even knew what an EIR program is, was, my friend Naval had been an EIR before he started Epinions. So I had some idea what Adam was talking about. The arrangement sounded like exactly what I was looking for.