Varsha Rao is the former Head of Global Operations at Airbnb and an operating executive, entrepreneur and investor, based in San Francisco.
As Head of Global Operations, she was responsible for managing 16 offices across the globe and leading the company’s customer service and trust and safety teams in Oregon, Portland, Singapore, Dublin and San Francisco. Under her leadership, the company’s operations in Asia expanded, with many new hosts and visitors joining the Airbnb family.
However, her entrepreneurial journey began much earlier, in 1998 when she founded Eve.com together with Mariam Naficy. Eve.com quickly became the leading e-commerce retailer for beauty and accessories. Within two years the company grew to 125 employees. Eve.com was sold to Idealab in early 2000 for $110M. In 1999, Fortune Magazine named the company as the 6th Best e-commerce site.
Between founding Eve.com and landing at Airbnb, Rao has held a variety of senior roles. She was appointed VP, Category Marketing at Keen/Ingenio (acquired by AT&T) in 2001 and managed P&L for new and emerging major categories. In 2004-2008, she was VP, General Manager for OldNavy.com, the online division of Gap, Inc., where she led the company’s product development, marketing and merchandising efforts, resulting in a 60% increase in revenues.
Rao went on to join SingTel as CEO, Digital Media in 2008 and led the team to launch its local search & reviews business inSing.com. After 3 years at SingTel she left to become Senior Vice President, International for LivingSocial where she was the first LivingSocial employee in Asia. As Senior VP, Rao managed more than 2,000 employees in the company’s network of offices in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and Europe.
Varsha is a mentor for the KStart Catalyst, an incubator and seed investment program for early stage startups in India. She herself has also invested in several startups in various fields including e-commerce, finance and renewable energy.
In 2014, she was named by San Francisco Business Times as one of the 'Most Influential Business Women' in the Bay Area and in 2016 she featured in The Boardlist's top 20 list of women every Silicon Valley tech company should be adding to their board.
Rao received her BS/BA in Economics/Math from the University of Pennsylvania. For two years following graduation, she worked at the Wasserstein Perella financial consulting firm, where she advised clients on private and public investment strategies. She then returned to school to obtain an MBA from Harvard Business School.
As a strong believer in the power of education she contributes to a variety of educational initiatives for underprivileged children and youth. Among them Breakthrough, a program that works to motivate and empower K12 students to continue to higher education and excel academically and professionally.
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