Five Questions With…Rajiv Dutta, Managing Director, Elevation Partners

1. How did you hook up with Elevation Partners?

One of the founding partners, Fred Anderson, was the head of our audit committee when I was a CFO at eBay. And 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.

2. What were you responsible for at eBay?

I did many different things. 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. In 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.

3. How will that experience benefit Elevation Partners?

In my role as head of strategy and head of mergers and acquisitions at eBay, my job was to identify growth companies, and identify 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 which have contributed to a very significant part of its growth. As CFO, I was responsible for the financial systems, the operational discipline, putting in place the metrics that became a cornerstone of the growth of eBay from a young company to the very large corporation it is today. And lastly, as an operating executive, I have been involved in growing businesses at every stage of their development. Skype was a young chaotic start up. PayPal when I came in to run it was in what I would call a mid-life crisis, where the first flush of growth opportunities had begun to shown signs of fatigue. And then eBay was in its mature stage and was in need of a re-ignition of growth. So these were three very different businesses in three different stages of life. 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, as well as through having the right people to execute the strategy.

4. In what areas of consumer products and technology are you particularly interested?

I think 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.

5. Do you get U2 tickets when you join Elevation Partners, which was co-founded by Bono?

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.

Edited for clarity