Ex-GE CEO Immelt Joins NEA as Execs Move Into Venture Investing

[Updated 2/1/18, 2:54 pm. See below.] Former General Electric chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt has joined New Enterprise Associates, the latest high-profile business executive to cross over to venture capital.

Immelt has signed on as a venture partner at NEA, according to a press release. NEA has offices in the Bay Area; Washington, DC, area; Boston; New York; and India. Immelt has been living in Boston, where GE (NYSE: GE) has its headquarters, after relocating from Connecticut a couple years ago. Immelt will now be based in the Bay Area, but will spend time in other cities, particularly Boston and New York, a NEA spokeswoman said in an e-mail. The press release mentions he will also teach a Stanford graduate business course with Robert Siegel starting this spring. [This paragraph updated with NEA comment.—Eds]

Immelt retired last year from GE, which he led for 16 years. Opinions of his tenure at one of the world’s largest conglomerates are mixed: some business observers applaud him for making big moves to shed legacy businesses and focus on areas like healthcare and connected industrial devices and software; but GE’s stock price underperformed the broader market while he was CEO, and it has sunk even lower in the early stages of his successor’s tenure. (Immelt is pictured above, left, with GE’s new CEO, John Flannery.)

Immelt has apparently been itching to spend more time in the Bay Area and its tech scene. He was a finalist for the Uber CEO job that ultimately went to former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Now, with NEA, Immelt will work with tech and healthcare businesses in the venture firm’s portfolio. NEA’s investments include Boston-area 3D printing firm Desktop Metal; Willow, a wearable breast pump company based in Mountain View, CA; and San Francisco-based data analytics firm Databricks.

Immelt’s hire was announced the same week that General Catalyst Partners said it’s bringing on departing American Express CEO Ken Chenault to serve as chairman and a managing director of the VC firm. Other ex-CEOs who have recently joined the VC world include former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, who launched a venture firm with Rachel Lam, who previously led investments for Time Warner; and John Chambers, the longtime Cisco CEO, who is now running a self-funded venture firm.

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