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Ex-Evernote CEO turns VC: 'I don't believe in work-life balance. I believe in life's work.'

Phil LibinGeneral CatalystPhil Libin

After departing from his CEO role at Evernote in July, Phil Libin has joined venture capital firm General Catalyst as a partner.

Libin helped create the popular productivity app in 2007 and led it as CEO until his departure a few months ago. At the time, he told The Information that he considers himself more of a “product person” and the company needed a “professional” CEO.

Libin only took a few months off before joining General Catalyst, the venture firm behind hot companies like Snapchat, Airbnb, and Stripe.

“I’m not really a fan of taking time off. I was already bored at the end of the thought of ‘what am I going to do next?’ I’m itching to have impact,” Libin said in an interview with Business Insider on Tuesday.

Sufficiently epic

After spending the last 19 years as a CEO at various companies, Libin originally thought he would take some time off, maybe six months or a year to decide what he needed to do next. But just three months later, he’s starting a new job as a venture capitalist Monday, starting a new kind of life’s work.

“I don’t believe in life-work balance. I don’t think those are two things that you balance against each other. I believe in life’s work,” Libin said.

“I believe that you work on something that’s sufficiently epic and that’s what you want to spend your time on. I think there’s lot of great entrepreneurs and founders that feel that way as well, and they want to work on their life’s work. Those are the people I want to be around,” Libin continued.

General Catalyst normally invests in early stage companies, and Libin was attracted to their tradition of hatching companies from within the walls of their Palo Alto venture firm rather than piling on later.

“I’m motivated by getting a group of nerds and getting them to walk through walls with their super duper strength so they build something,” Libin said.

Bubble talk

It’s an interesting time for venture capital as some prominent investors square off and name dying unicorns, or companies that are worth more than $US1 billion. Other venture capitalists argue there’s no bubble at all.

Hemant Taneja, a managing director at General Catalyst, said the firm is more shielded from the bubble talk.

“When you think about the bubble, a lot if it is about late stage ventures where those things become an issue. Whether a series A valuation is off by some per cent doesn’t really matter,” Taneja said. “To the extent you’re in early stage investing like we focus on here at GC, we think it’s a phenomenal time.”

Libin said it’s both a scary time and the best time to be a venture capitalist, even as his former company is being called the first dead unicorn.

“It wouldn’t be the best time if it wasn’t scary. When we started Evernote it was terrifying,” Libin said. “I don’t think I’ve ever embarked on anything great without being scared.”

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