John Maeda, the designer and technologist who has spent the past three years at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as its first Design Partner, has left for a tech company.
Maeda will become Global Head of Computational Design and Inclusion for Automattic, the parent company for WordPress.com, WooCommerce, and Jetpack.
Maeda, who led a research team at MIT Media Lab for 12 years before serving as president of the Rhode Island School of Design, left academia for Silicon Valley in 2013 in part to bring design and technology together in the world of business. Now, he'll have a seat at the table of a company that hosts more than 25% of the world's websites.
Today Maeda is also launching a new site co-led with designers at Automattic, Design.blog, to host ideas and essays from influential thinkers, designers, and writers—contributions for launch day include Alice Rawsthorn, Cassidy Blackwell, and Jessica Helfand.
Maeda will stay on at Kleiner Perkins as a part-time strategic advisor (alongside Colin Powell, he noted), but he decided to move away from the VC firm because he wanted more hands on work.
"I was coaching CEOs, design leaders, engineers, product people," Maeda says. "I realized that it’s great to be a coach, but I have to play ball."