5 questions with Rajiv Dutta

Former eBay executive Rajiv Dutta last month joined media and consumer-focused private equity firm Elevation Partners, which was co-founded by U2 frontman Bono.

Dutta’s most recent roles with eBay were as executive vice president and president of eBay Marketplaces, but he previously served as CFO and president of both PayPal and Skype. Elevation recently lost a bid to acquire Skype..

Dutta has chatted with Bernard Vaughan from Buyouts, an affiliate publication to PE Week, and Dan Primack, Editor-at-Large.

Q: How did you hook up with Elevation Partners?


Fred Anderson, one of the founding partners of Elevation, was the head of our audit committee when I was a CFO at eBay. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many of the other partners, as well. They’ve called me in and solicited my advice, for what its worth, on a number of transactions.

They have a view of private equity, an operational perspective, that plays right into what I’ve been doing all my professional life.

Q: What did you do at eBay?


From 2001 through 2006 I was the chief strategy officer as well as the head of all new ventures, mergers and acquisitions. During the same period, I was also the CFO. From 2006 to 2007, I was president of Skype in London, and from 2007 to 2008 I was the president of PayPal. And then, in 2008, I moved back to put in place the turnaround strategy for eBay marketplaces.

Q: How will that experience benefit Elevation Partners?


The team at Elevation is incredibly qualified and has a great range of experience, but I think I have a different background in that I’ve run businesses in a lot of different industries.

At eBay, my job was to identify growth companies and strategic acquisitions and bring them into the fold. And eBay made, over the course of those 10 years that I was there, over 30 acquisitions.

Joining Elevation Partners made a lot of sense to me because its approach to private equity is to transform companies and to create value through operational excellence. You also have to have the right people to execute the strategy.

Q: What areas are of interest?


There is a broad-based transformation under way in the United States as the Internet changes businesses and re-shapes the industrial landscape. That’s one trend we can take advantage of as investors. Also, over the last few years, many companies have made a substantial number of acquisitions and over the next few years there’s going to be a period of digestion and consolidation. So I think that’s another opportunity for us at Elevation Partners.

Q: Do you get any U2 tickets when you joined Elevation?


It’s a very big part of why I came over here. It was a huge thrill meeting Bono. I’ve been a U2 fan for a very, very long time. And, more importantly, I have two young kids who are huge U2 fans. We don’t get free tickets, but we do get tickets. I haven’t put it to the test yet, but I’m absolutely counting on it.