You’re one of the few black executives in Silicon Valley. How has race shaped your professional experience?
I get discriminated against all the time. No one thinks I’m a C.E.O. I sit on a plane and tell somebody, “Well, I run this company.” They’re like, “What? You run a company?” And it’s like shocking. You could imagine someone else sitting in that seat where no one would be surprised.
Starting the Black Googler Network was sort of selfish in the beginning because there just weren’t enough black people at Google, and I just wanted to get more. We have a recruiting problem and a hiring problem. There is a whole community of people that we haven’t tried to hire, so let’s go try to hire them, and then we can all be happy.
Why did you leave Google?
I came back from India, and I was running the operations team of about 600 people globally. I’d been there for nine years. I had a corner office. And I was sitting there, floor-to-ceiling windows, two sides. My dog was there. I had a table. I had a couch, an assistant. And as I sat there, I realized I needed to move on and do something else. This is not it.
Why did you join TaskRabbit?
The mission of revolutionizing everyday work — I just fell in love with it. I mean, I grew up with people who were hardworking, whose jobs were taken away from them because the auto industry was decimated. And here’s this platform that’s creating everyday work for everyday people. What an opportunity. To me, this is going back to my roots in Detroit, which is how do I help people around me? How can I help a community of people do something more than they could otherwise accomplish on their own?
Why did you sell to Ikea?
A friend of mine gave me some advice, which was: “Now that you’re the C.E.O. of this successful company, people are going to want to buy the company. Make a list of who you would talk to so you don’t waste your time.” So I did that, and Ikea was on the list. The values were aligned. Ikea seeks to eliminate poverty around the world. They create affordable products for people everywhere.
When we told our employees, everyone clapped because they were like, “Oh, thank god. We’re actually selling to a company that we admire and we respect.” That’s when you know you’ve done the right thing. We took care of our investors, we took care of the team, and we’re taking care of the company.