Why the former CFO of Google joined a Canadian VC firm after two years traveling the world

When Patrick Pichette left his job as the chief financial officer of Google in 2015, his frank memo about leaving to travel and spend more time with his family sparked a larger conversation about work-life balance.

In the roughly three years since, he has explored Antarctica, scaled cliffs in Australia, biked the Continental Divide and much more, all the while posting updates and musings on his blog.

But he’s officially ditching the backback and diving back into a full-time job: Pichette announced this week that he’s joining the Canadian venture capital firm iNovia as a general partner.

“My wife basically told me, ‘Time to go back to work now,'” he tells CNBC with a laugh. “I would have kept going for three more years, but she said, ‘We have to settle back down.'”

Although he had conversations about executive opportunities and potential VC positions in Silicon Valley, the Montreal-born Pichette ultimately saw the current Canadian tech climate as compelling for a number of reasons.

Not only is there a need for more growth-stage capital, which iNovia plans to provide, but there’s been renewed support from academia and the government to make Canada an attractive place for tech companies, he says.

As the U.S. administration tightens the rules around the H-1B visa program, which allows American companies to employ foreigners in specialized positions, Canada has been trying to woo highly skilled tech workers with an initiative that helps potential employees get temporary work permits in as little as two weeks.

Meanwhile, foreign students are applying to Canadian schools in record numbers, with some citing the tumultuous political climate as part of their decision.

“Trump is doing Canada a terrific service right now,” Pichette says.

As someone who made a fortune in the United States (Pichette received hefty, multi-million dollar salaries at Google), he also wants to see more Canadian-founded success trickle down in that economy, instead of abroad.

When scouting companies for iNovia investment, Pichette says that he’s particularly interested in finding tech startups with environmental ties.

“When you start traveling and thinking from a global perspective, you realize how small the planet is and how predatory we are to its ecology,” he says. “I’m excited about technology that can make a difference in these areas.”

He also believes more executives should try to take some sort of travel-based sabbatical in their 50s. While he acknowledges that not everyone has the privilege of taking a world romp as far-reaching as his, he says that the beautiful geographies were mostly just a backdrop to moving slower and spending more time reading, thinking and logging quality time with loved ones.

“You’re still relatively young and you still have another 30 years of work ahead of you anyway,” he said. “Take a break. It’s an absolute delight.”

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