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Varsha Rao About the Asian Cultures


Varsha Rao, former Head of Global Operations at Airbnb, is an accomplished international business executive and founder with operations around the world. She is an active entrepreneur, investor and operating executive.

 

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Varsha Rao About the Asian Cultures


Varsha Rao, former Head of Global Operations at Airbnb, is an accomplished international business executive and founder with operations around the world. She is an active entrepreneur, investor and operating executive.

 

Explore

 

Varsha Rao

Global Entrepreneur and Corporate Executive

Varsha Rao has invested most of her career in the pursuit of her two primary passions: global business and internet commerce. She is an accomplished corporate executive in the international community, and a successful entrepreneur. Her career spans the spectrum, from senior executive at consumer tech companies to founder and CEO of her own e-commerce cosmetics company.

Rao is the former Head of Global Operations at Airbnb, the fast-growing global community-based travel marketplace. While Airbnb focuses on providing unique travel experiences in locations around the world, its business model empowers hosts to become successful micro-entrepreneurs. Airbnb was the perfect place for Rao to bring her extensive experience and passion as an entrepreneur and global business leader. Today, she is involved in several startups as investor and mentor. She is an operating executive and entrepreneur. 


Education

Varsha Rao grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She holds a B.S. in Economics and B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, graduating magna cum laude. Upon graduation, she joined Wasserstein Perella, a boutique investment bank, where she consulted with the firm’s clients across industries on a variety of financial transactions and strategies. Two years after joining the firm, she left to pursue her MBA, which she subsequently received from Harvard Business School.

After graduating from Harvard with Distinction, Varsha returned to New York and joined McKinsey & Co., a global management consulting company. One of her tasks was to develop an understanding of how traditional companies were starting to embrace and leverage the internet which was just starting to grow at that time. In this capacity, she co-authored “Internet Advertising: New Medium or New Marketing Paradigm”, an article discussing the role the Internet was playing in the way companies do business, especially marketing. Her research into these online trends served as the catalyst to founding her own web-based company.

E-commerce Entrepreneur

In 1998, Rao took that seed of inspiration and co-founded with her partner Mariam Naficy, Eve.com the first cosmetics e-commerce company. Eve.com was designed for busy working women, marketing popular beauty and skincare products online. It was immediately successful, growing to 125 employees in only two years and named the 6th best e-commerce site in 1999 by Forbes. Rao and her partner successfully exited Eve.com in 2000 to Idealab.

Varsha went on to assume leadership roles in a number of internet/ecommerce companies, including serving as Vice President of OldNavy.com where she oversaw fast-paced growth of the business over her tenure there.

Experience in Asian Markets

Varsha Rao has always had a love for Asia, not only because of its connection to her family roots, but also because of this continent's exciting energies, which create a thriving environment for entrepreneurial endeavors. In 2008 Rao took on the role of CEO of SingTel Digital Media, based in Singapore, and during her three year tenure at the company launched what became one of Singapore’s foremost digital lifestyle journals, Insing.com. She had responsibility for managing all facets of the company’s business, including product management, content, marketing, sales and financials. After that, she joined LivingSocial, where she served as Senior Vice President for International Operations. She managed more than 2,000 employees and all aspects of operations in the company’s overseas locations, including Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Latin America, and Europe.