By Dan Primack
January 27, 2011

Marc Bodnick is stepping down as a co-founding partner of private equity firm Elevation Partners, in order to join social question-and-answer site Quora, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation. He would be the second Elevation co-founder to leave, following John Riccitiello’s departure in 2007 to become CEO of Electronic Arts.

We originally heard that Bodnick will become Quora’s chief financial officer, but have since learned that to be inaccurate. Instead, a source close to Elevation says that Bodnick and Quora have not yet agreed on a formal title, or even if he will have one. Yeah, that seems kind of strange, but such amorphous arrangements sometimes happen in startup land.

We’re still awaiting word from Quora, while Bodnick and an Elevation spokesman both declined comment.

Bodnick is largely credited with two of Elevation’s most successful investments (at least on paper): Yelp and Facebook.

Elevation invested $100 million early last year in Yelp, where Bodnick sits on the board of directors. The firm also bought around $210 million in Facebook stock via a pair of purchases — both at valuations well below the $50 billion mark recently paid by Goldman Sachs. Elevation’s original Facebook deal has many fathers — Bodnick’s sister-in-law is Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, but fellow Elevation Partners Roger McNamee and Bono also have long histories with the company — but Bodnick is believed to be the one who most actively promoted the follow-on purchase.

Bodnick’s decision to leave Elevation was first reported by VentureBeat, which did include a little kicker at the end about how much time Bodnick has been spending lately on Quora.

Here is Bodnick’s bio, from the Elevation website:

Marc Bodnick is a Managing Director and Co-Founder of Elevation Partners. Marc has extensive experience as a Silicon Valley investor in large-scale media and consumer technology investments. Marc was a founding principal of Silver Lake Partners, having joined the firm prior to its initial fundraising in 1999. Prior to Silver Lake, Marc served as an Associate in the Principal Investment Group at The Blackstone Group where he served on teams evaluating, executing, and monitoring a variety of private equity investments. Prior to Blackstone, Marc served at Kroll Associates as a Director in the Crisis Management Group where he worked on consulting teams providing advice to clients in situations involving corporate security, kidnap and ransom incidents, and political violence.

One obviously has to wonder what this does to the future of Elevation.

The firm no longer is able to make new investments out of its $1.9 billion debut fund, and the original team seems decimated. Not only have Bodnick and Riccitiello left, but McNamee seems to spend most of his time either touring with his band MoonAlice (90 performances last year) or as part of the operations team at linguistics startup Wordnik. Bono also has a few other things on his plate, and Elevation fundraising chief Kevin Albert left late last year after it became clear that he wouldn’t have much work in the short-term.

The best gauge of whether or not Elevation really tries raising a second fund will be the continued involvement — or lack of involvement — by managing directors Rajiv Dutta (ex-eBay) and Avie Tevanian (ex-Apple). Both joined within the past two years, and don’t have Fund I economics (or at least very little). If they stay, then it could only be because they believe a second fund is still possible. If they follow Bodnick out the door, then stick a fork in Elevation.

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