Business & Tech

General Catalyst adds outgoing American Express chief to its team

Ken Chenault, who led the credit card and payments giant for 17 years, is one of the best-known African-American executives in the business world.
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
Ken Chenault, who led the credit card and payments giant for 17 years, is one of the best-known African-American executives in the business world.

Outgoing American Express chief executive Ken Chenault will join General Catalyst as chairman and managing director, the Boston venture capital firm said.

Chenault, who led the credit card and payments giant for 17 years, is one of the best-known African-American executives in the business world. And he has been increasing his profile in the tech industry since he announced last year he would leave American Express in February.

Chenault recently announced he would join the boards of Facebook and Airbnb, the short-term rental giant in which General Catalyst is an investor.

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“GC is not just a top VC firm with powerful personalities, they are in it to win for all the right reasons,” Chenault said in a statement. “It is clear that they have built a firm that will endure.”

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General Catalyst has been an early investor in companies including Snap, Warby Parker, HubSpot, and KAYAK. The firm raised $845 million in its last funding round and now has offices in Cambridge, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and New York. Chenault will be based out of the New York office.

In a blog post, General Catalyst said Chenault will “focus on investing in fast-growing companies that have the potential to become large, fundamental institutions.”

“He’ll also provide invaluable guidance to our portfolio companies, particularly to those with an eye towards global markets and responsible innovation, as they scale their teams and products,” the firm said.

Chenault also adds increased diversity at General Catalyst at a time when investors across the tech world are trying to make the largely white, mostly male industry more representative of the larger population.

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In September, General Catalyst announced that it had hired Holly Maloney McConnell, a former investor at Waltham’s Guidepost Growth Equity, as the first female managing director in the history of the firm.

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com.