Posts Tagged ‘Ben Horowitz’

Reverse Engineering: Gautam Gupta Goes From VC to Entrepreneur

May 3rd, 2012 05:00 admin View Comments

Gautam Gupta had it all. He was just 26 and a rising venture capitalist with a bright future and a big salary. An associate at General Catalyst Partners, he’d sourced six deals, deployed $65 million and had just opened General Catalyst’s Palo Alto office.

Then he threw it all away to launch a startup. And not some cool startup with a mobile-social app poised to be acquired for $1 billion. An e-commerce startup. Even his mother began to wonder.

“My mom’s first question was, ‘Are you sure about this?’” Gupta recalls.

Indeed, it was a surprising decision. Maybe not as surprising as Ben Horowitz’s decision to go public with his unironic and cringeworthy embrace of better management through gangster rap… but still.

Reverse Engineering

Most standout Silicon Valley careers track the other direction, from successful entrepreneur to venture capitalist (see: Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, etc.). Why did Gupta go the other way?

“I had never really done anything in my career outside venture capital,” he says. He joined General Catalyst straight out of Babson College. “So now I am 26 and I thought I should spend at least a few years of my life trying to build a business or do something on the operating side before I got too deep into VC and was not able to get out of it.”

Together with a college friend, he started a company called NatureBox, which sells healthy snacks online. He wasn’t completely starting over; General Catalyst provided a large piece of the new company’s seed financing.

Health food is familiar territory for Gupta. He weighed 210 pounds when he was 12 years old – he trimmed his 5-foot-6 frame to 145 pounds by improving his eating habits. E-commerce is also a good fit, since Gupta specialized in e-commerce investments while at General Catalyst. He knows it’s not the sexiest tech space these days, but he likes the challenge.

Solving Difficult Problems

“The first reaction to the food industry you get from VCs is, ‘Why would you want to start a food company? The margins are so low, it’s perishable,’ and on and on. But I like the idea of solving a difficult problem. You can still build an awesome business in the space – it has been done.”

Besides, it’s counterintuitive. Like Gupta.

Source: Reverse Engineering: Gautam Gupta Goes From VC to Entrepreneur

Google’s Six-Front War

July 3rd, 2011 07:57 admin View Comments

Editor’s note: Guest contributor Semil Shah is an entrepreneur interested in digital media, consumer internet, and social networks. He is based in Palo Alto and you can follow him on twitter @semilshah.

While the tech world is buzzing about the launch and implications of Google’s new social network, Google+, it’s worth noting that Google isn’t just in a war with Facebook, it’s at war with multiple companies across multiple industries. In fact, Google is fighting a multi-front war with a host of tech giants for control over some of the most valuable pieces of real estate in technology. Whether it’s social, mobile, browsing, local, enterprise, or even search, Google is being attacked from all angles.  And make no mistake about it, they are fighting back and fighting back, hard. Entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist Ben Horowitz laid the groundwork for this in his post Peacetime CEO / Wartime CEO, saying Larry Page “seems to have determined that Google is moving into war and he clearly intends to be a wartime CEO. This will be a profound change for Google and the entire high-tech industry.” Horowitz is exactly right.

Before I investigate each battle front in the war, it’s important to highlight the fact that perhaps no other tech company right now could withstand such a multifaceted attack, let alone be able to retaliate efficiently. Sure, Apple might get pushed around by Facebook, so it integrated Twitter into iOS5, and sure, Amazon and Apple have their own tussles over digital media and payments, but at the end of the day, Google is in this unique and potentially highly vulnerable position that will test the company’s mettle and ability to not only reinvent itself, but also to perhaps strengthen its core. Let’s take a quick look into the GooglePlex, which may now resemble more of a military complex, plotting out strategies and tactics for this war. Google must battle on at least six fronts simultaneously.

The Browser Front: Users have a choice between Internet Explorer (Microsoft), Firefox (Mozilla), Safari (Apple), and Google’s offering, Chrome. The speculation is that Facebook is interested in a browser, too, since Mozilla co-founder Blake Ross is an employee, but that hasn’t happened yet. More recently, the social browser RockMelt has captured some peoples’ interests, and last week secured $30M in financing, adding Facebook board members Jim Breyer and Marc Andreessen to its board. Andreessen obviously knows a thing or two about browsers. Though most browsers enable users to power their search by Google as an option, Googe’s Chrome offering isn’t the lead browser by market share, and not even in second place.

The Mobile Front: Apple’s iOS took the mobile world by storm in 2007 with the first iPhone. Then Google’s Android operating system roared alongside it, turning into a freight train of downloads, as Bill Gurley said, only recently to be slowed by Apple’s release of a phone with Verizon. While Android may have more installs, they don’t have the developer community to build killer apps because the Android marketplace (both for hardware and firmware) is highly fragmented, whereas iOS is about symphonic convergence. All the along, there’s been ample speculation about whether Facebook was building its own mobile phone device, or as the company has publicly hinted, how it would integrate social layers into different mobile operating systems and platforms.

The Search Front: Whether we’re on the desktop/laptop, a tablet, or a phone, Google wants to be powering our search, and this is where they dominate, though Microsoft’s Bing has been able to acquire an impressive number of clicks. While everything is fine today, there are some troubling warning signs. On desktops and laptops, people will continue to use a variety of browsers, though they end up spending a lot of time on Facebook, which scares Google because of the trend of people moving slowly from search to discovery. This, however, won’t shift overnight. For mobile devices, it’s trickier. Most iOS users navigate the web either through Apple’s own browser, Safari, and can have it search by Google. On Android-powered tablets and phones, Google controls more of the user-experience, including search, navigation, and application integration. While this is going on, users are trying their hand at realtime search on Twitter or BackType, looking for content directly within Quora, or using Blekko’s hashtags to better cut through and sort the web.

The Local Front: When users search for things on Google and click through, Google gets a little cut of that click. It knows how to drive traffic online and be paid handsomely for it. Driving and directing traffic that originates online into the real world, however, is a different story. As Steve Cheney elegantly stated, when we search online for places to go and then end up there in real life, the place itself does not have a clear sense of what drove them there. This is why the Daily Deals space is so red-hot and competitive, as it helps to close this major, valuable loop. If you search for a restaurant via OpenTable and make a reservation, the merchant knows exactly what drove you to the door. That’s why Yelp, which only used to provide reviews, offered the ability to check-in for credit after Foursquare built up a head of steam. The opportunity here is so complex yet fragmented that it drove Google to offer $6B for Groupon just six months ago. In local, Google is competing against Groupon, but also Amazon (which has a stake in LivingSocial), and a host of smaller (Loopt) and forthcoming deals companies will continue to roll out. This is just the beginning.

The Social Front: Yes, again, Google is fighting a war with Facebook. That much is obvious. What’s less obvious is how other social networks have been able to capture bits and pieces of our identities, leaving Google without any information of who we are. Users have been pumping personal content into blogs like Tumblr, networks like LinkedIn, and even asking search-related questions on Quora. Although we may all predominantly search via Google, the company is struggling in the social field. That is why Larry Page stepped in as CEO, why he tied bonuses to social, and why Google+ is their social sword and shield to fight back and capture user data, despite it being late in the game. Strategically speaking, even if Google+ doesn’t hold or catch fire, it will probably cause its rivals to pause for a moment and consider a range of short- and long-term implications.

The Enterprise Front: If you think the browser, mobile, social, local, and search isn’t enough, check out Google’s combatants in enterprise—just some names like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and VMware, among others. Google’s App Engine could go up against AWS, though that doesn’t seem likely. Google competes with IBM and Oracle on enterprise search (such as OmniFind) and email and work collaboration tools (Lotus). Google’s Chromebooks are seen as a potential entry point into enterprise computing, going up against hardware giants like HP, Dell, and Lenovo. Furthermore, Google may be trying to push Android into the enterprise, which would apply even more pressure on Research in Motion. There’s VMware, which offers Zimbra, PaaS, and presentation tools, to name a few. And, of course, there’s Microsoft, which competes with Google for a wide range of productivity applications. For all of Google’s consumer-facing brands and applications, its strength in enterprise sometimes is underestimated despite the fact that they currently hold many excellent positions.

It’s easy to pile on Google given their size, their wallet, and their global influence and impact. They are the goliath, and have been for many years, and are now facing many challenging tests, all at the same time. And while it’s a fun parlor game to sit around and pontificate about how Google’s reign might be over or how slow GMail loads, the reality is that no other company could compete legitimately on so many different battlefronts against so many different competitors. There’s no way Google can win each battle, and they must know that, but they will win some, and it will be fascinating to see how the company both adapts and stays the course along the way. Google is not going to go down without a fight, and it could take another decade for all of these battles to play out. The company has some of the world’s brightest engineers, a stockpile of cash, and incredible consumer Internet mind share, worldwide. Sit tight.

Photo credit: Flickr/hellosputnik

Source: Google’s Six-Front War

Andreessen-Horowitz Adds Jeff Jordan As General Partner, Leads $5M+ LikeALittle Series A

June 30th, 2011 06:01 admin View Comments

Andreessen-Horowitz, the prestigious VC firm started by Silicon Valley veterans Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, has just announced that it’s added its fifth general partner: Jeff Jordan, the former CEO of OpenTable and former executive at PayPal and eBay.

In conjunction with the news, A-H is also announcing Jordan’s first investment: a Series A funding round in hot Palo-Alto based startup LAL (also known as LikeALittle). When it’s completed, the round will total over $5 million in new funding for the company. Also contributing to the round are notable angel investors who include TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington (see below).

Oh, and we hear that LAL landed a valuation of over $35 million. Not bad for a startup that got its start last fall as a college flirting site.

This is actually A-H’s second investment in LAL in the last few months — it also participated in a seed round in late April. Neither Jordan nor LAL had much to share about LAL’s progress aside from the funding, but it’s clear that A-H has high hopes for the company and how it will deliver local context (which is a problem plenty of other apps are trying to solve as well).

As for Jordan’s addition as a partner, Marc Andreessen says that the firm has been on a two-year search as it sought to expand the team (in addition to Andreeseen and Horowitz, the other general partners are Scott Weiss, John O’Farrell, and now Jordan). Andreeseen says that over the course of many conversations with startups, Jordan’s has been a name that regularly comes up —either as someone that a startup already has, or wished they had — as a board member or advisor.

You can find LAL founder Evan Reas’s blog post on the funding here.

Note: As noted above, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington is investing in LAL. You can read more about his investment policy here.

Source: Andreessen-Horowitz Adds Jeff Jordan As General Partner, Leads $5M+ LikeALittle Series A

Foursquare Closes $50M at a $600M Valuation

June 24th, 2011 06:25 admin View Comments

Foursquare has just closed one of the most secretive rounds of venture capital TechCrunch has seen.

The company is raising $50 million, and all of it will go towards building out the company, no secondary sales here. The valuation had been rumored to be as high as $1 billion, but our sources say it settled out at $550 million pre-money, $600 million post.

Part of that is because the round was mostly done by insiders. Leading it was Andreessen Horowitz, still the only major Valley firm invested in the company. Ben Horowitz did the deal and is remaining a board observer only. Union Square Ventures, AOTV also reupped in this round and Spark Capital came in as a new investor, but not the lead. The money will be used to build out the merchant platform, the San Francisco office and fuel international expansion, said founder Dennis Crowley in an interview.

Foursquare’s ten million users are impressive for a mobile app, but small compared to numbers other $1 billion-club Web companies are touting. Revenues are scant. Some firms said they shied away from the deal, because they felt monetization was only more unclear now. With the local space on fire, Foursquare’s target advertisers are already beset with sales people from Yelp, Living Social, Groupon, Google and others calling on them. There’s going to be a level of retailer fatigue, and business-wise Foursquare is late to the party.

A valuation in the $500 million range would be a big but not unreasonable step-up from Foursquare’s last round which was priced at $120 million. That’s still rich, but that’s the market. Plus, from the venture firm’s perspective, a heady valuation only matters so much. Only slightly more than $20 million has been invested so far in the company, and any investor will have a liquidation preference, meaning they get paid first in the event of an acquisition. So a $50 million deal at any price wouldn’t lose money unless Foursquare winds up being worth less than $70 million.

We expect it to become public today, and we’ll update as soon as we hear more.

Source: Foursquare Closes $50M at a $600M Valuation

Lytro Launches to Transform Photography with $50M in Venture Funds (TCTV)

June 21st, 2011 06:05 admin View Comments

Love photos but utterly bored by wave after wave of iPhone photo sharing apps? Lytro is the company for you. This is also the company for anyone who thinks Silicon Valley has fallen into a rut of innovation-less posing. And it’s the company for anyone who complains that the Valley is more about media and marketing than brass-knuckles, hardcore technology. This is the company that jaded, cranky, rap-lyric quoting investor Ben Horowitz says, “blew my brains to bits.”

In short, Lytro is developing a new type of camera that dramatically changes photography for the first time since the 1800s. Rather than just capturing one plane of light, it captures the entire light field around a picture, all in one shot taken on a single device. A light field includes every beam of light in every direction at every point in time. Experimentation in this field started in the mid-1990s at Stanford with 100 cameras in one room. Lytro’s innovation is making it small enough to fit in your pocket. Really.

As a result you can refocus photos after the fact, wiggle around the orientation, and even show the photos in 3D. Get excited, Jason Kincaid, because it’s not too far away from those 3D moving photographs in the Harry Potter movies. The company has raised $50 million so far from NEA, K9 Ventures, Greylock Partners and Andreessen Horowitz.

Check it out in this photo below by Richard Koci Hernandez. Click around to see Elvis come into focus in the foreground:

Here’s some of what Horowitz wrote on his blog about the company:

“People often refer to taking a picture as capturing the moment, but conventional photography does not really capture the moment. It captures one angle, one set of light, and one focus of the moment. If you are a professional photographer, you might capture the best parts of the moment. If you are someone like me, you most certainly will not. With Ren’s light field camera, you actually capture the moment or at least all of the light that visually represents the moment.

Once you have captured the moment, you can go back at any time and get the picture that you want.

Essentially, you can take the picture you wish you would have taken after the fact. If you are used to the old paradigm, it’s like travelling backwards through time.”

Of course there are big risks with any business this jaw-droppingly innovative. Will they be able to get the price point low enough that people will buy the camera? Right now, the closest Ng will commit on price is somewhere between north of $1 and less than $10,000. That’s a pretty broad ballpark. We won’t be able to see the devices until the also vague “sometime this year.” An equally important question is whether the user experience be as simple as the company claims.

We invited the CEO and founder Ren Ng into the TechCrunchTV studio to answer some of these questions, give us a demo and tell us more about this undeniably cool company. Video below.

Source: Lytro Launches to Transform Photography with $50M in Venture Funds (TCTV)

Let’s Not Get Too Cocky About The Blubble

June 2nd, 2011 06:50 admin View Comments

It was just a little over a month ago that I wrote “We’re In The Middle Of A Terrible Blubble!” – a post about the difference between the Internet bubble of 2000 and the “blubble” (as I call it) that we’re in today. The short version of the post is this: venture capitalists like to declare valuation bubbles to fight rising valuations, and the press eats it up because it’s dramatic.

in 1999 the Nasdaq was out of control crazy with no real relationship between stock prices and operating results. We’re not seeing anything like that today, partially because so few companies are going public. And many of the huge-valuation private companies, like Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, have rumored profits that would justify their lofty valuations. And while Twitter is still too cool for revenue, I’ve considered them the exception rather than the rule.

But the market has shifted in the last month since I wrote that post. Things that have happened in the last couple of weeks in particular are worrying me. Well, not exactly worrying me. But making me far less comfortable with the health of the startup ecosystem.

So I scratch my head at Marc Andreessen, who argued today at the AllThingsD Conference that there’s (still) no bubble in tech. His conclusions don’t worry me so much as his logic.

A key characteristic of a bubble is not no one thinks its a bubble,” he says, noting that in 1999, people were euphoric. “If everybody’s upset, it’s a good sign…I hope there are lots of bubble stories.”

Everyone wasn’t euphoric in 1999. There was lots and lots of talk of a bubble. See, for example, this 1999 NY Times story title “Is Frenzy for Internet Stocks a Bubble Waiting to Burst?” Here’s another article in Forbes. And there are lots, lots more.

That’s not saying much. As with recessions, any ambitious economist will predict a bubble every year. No one remembers the misses, but you get an awesome book deal when you’re finally right. “Declare a bubble early and declare it often,” as I said in my previous post.

But Andreessen’s argument that there was no talk of bubbles in 1999 is just wrong.

His other argument is that “It can’t be a bubble because the stock market isn’t acting like it’s a bubble.” Except for newly public LinkedIn, which has a 2,000+ P/E ratio. And ZipCar, which is yet to become profitable so it doesn’t have a P/E ratio, but it’s still worth a billion dollars on Nasdaq.

But the big companies, says Andreessen, still have reasonable P/E ratios. And he’s right. Microsoft was at 72 in 1999. Today it’s less than 10.

And that’s the best argument that things are still sane, because the public markets haven’t gone crazy yet.

There sure are signs, though, that those public markets are aching for a new tech stock bubble. Imagine if Facebook went public today. Think they’d hit a $200 billion market cap immediately? They’re at $75ish billion today on the secondary markets, so why not?

Google’s only worth $170 billion.

That’s the problem. The markets are dying for growth opportunities and they are going to jump on any tech IPO that smells like a winner and price that stock so high that it becomes a loser. The blubble in the private markets today can very easily turn into a real live bubble on the NYSE and Nasdaq tomorrow, and I’m not sure there’s anything that is going to stop it.

And that private company blubble is starting to look more like a real bubble, too. In March, Andreessen’s partner Ben Horowitz argued that private company valuations aren’t all that crazy. “In recent high profile private financing rounds for private technology companies with valuations over $1B, the valuation multiples were at or below corresponding multiples for publicly traded companies such as Google,” said Horowitz.

That was true then (except for Twitter), but there are deals being closed now that blow that argument out of the water. AirBnB, for example, will close a financing at a higher than $1 billion valuation. The company is awesome but they still have very low revenue and certainly aren’t profitable. And most interesting of all is that Andreessen Horowitz will lead the round.

I love Andreessen Horowitz’s swagger and willingness to place big bets on risky things. I just hope they’ve got more behind those bets than a faulty memory of what was happening in 1999 and an argument about private company valuations that they are singlehandedly making invalid.

And, really, they probably do. Because all signs point to a real bubble, probably starting later this year when a lot more companies start to go public. And when Facebook goes IPO, watch out. buy as much stock as you can and hold it for as long as you dare. There will be a lot of money to be made right before everything really goes to hell.

Source: Let’s Not Get Too Cocky About The Blubble

Andreessen Horowitz Announces Yet Another Growth Fund of $200M

April 6th, 2011 04:03 admin View Comments

I guess $1 billion under management wasn’t enough. Andreessen Horowitz has just announced a new growth fund of $200 million. The fund with co-invest alongside the firm’s most recent $650 million fund, providing more capital for the kinds of late stage deals that have been raging in the Valley of late. (Check out our three part series on the trend here, here and here.)

Notable late stage investments made so far by the firm include Skype, Zynga, Facebook, Twitter and most-recently Jawbone. There are more details in a guest post by general partner John O’Farrell on Ben Horowitz’s blog. (Come on, guys! Can’t O’Farrell get his own blog?) We’re talking to O’Farrell in just a bit and will update the post with more details.

Source: Andreessen Horowitz Announces Yet Another Growth Fund of $200M

7 Things to Know About Asana: Facebook Co-Founder’s Collaboration Startup

April 1st, 2011 04:30 admin View Comments

Asana logoAsana is a company founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-Googler Justin Rosenstein. Its aim is nothing short of reinventing how we collaborate. It’s a lofty goal, especially with so many enterprise 2.0 tools aiming to do just that. But it has deep pockets, high profile advisors, a strong vision and lots of buzz.

The team has been toiling on the project in secret for two years, but have finally started talking about it over the past few months. In February, the company held an open house where Rosenstein demoed and explained the product. It’s currently in private beta, but don’t hold your breath waiting for an invite.

Here’s what you should know about the company and its product.

Asana Open House from Jerry Phillips on Vimeo.

Founders, Advisors

Asana was co-founded by Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook, and Justin Rosenstein, who was a tech lead and engineering manager at Facebook and a product manager at Google.

Asana advisors include Marc Andreessen, Ronald Conway, Adam D’Angelo, Ben Horowitz, Mitch Kapor and Peter Thiel. A full list can be found here.

For Asana, Changing the Nature of Work Starts at Home

Asana doesn’t give its employees official job titles. For example, when it recently hired Kenny Van Zant the company announced he was joining the team in a “COO-type of role.”

There’s a Huge Waiting List for Its Beta

Despite its quirky organization structure, businesses are beating down the door to give Asana a try. According to TechCrunch, there is a 1,200-company waiting list to get a beta invite.

At Its Core, It’s a GTD System for Both Individuals and Groups

But what exactly is it? It can perhaps be best described as a task manager for both individuals and groups. Its heavily influenced by the “Getting Things Done” methodology of David Allen.

In the presentation by Rosenstein, he explains that enterprise collaboration and project management systems typically fail because individuals don’t manage their task lists in them. Individuals use calendars, text editors, sticky notes, legal pads – whatever helps them be productive. They do this because those centralized enterprise project hubs don’t give individuals individuals good enough tools to manage their own tasks. Enterprise project management tools are slow, and don’t give a good view of an individuals tasks – especially the ones that aren’t assigned as part of a group project.

To solve this, Asana is focused on making its product work well for individuals. Its goal is to make Asana faster for managing tasks than a text editor. To this end, it makes it easy to drag and drop tasks, provides lots of keyboard shortcuts and simple to delegate a task to someone else.

For groups, Asana makes it easy to manage tasks between team members, provides an activity stream view for each task and lets users participate in discussions by e-mail.

If you want more detail, and don’t want to watch Rosenstein’s presentation, check out his answer on Quora about what Asana is building.

It can be used by individuals working alone

Unlike e-mail or a social network, Asana is useful on its own as a task manager. Having other users to collaborate with will create a network effect, but it can stand alone. This could be a driver of adoption because users will be able to use it productively immediately.

The Company Built Its Own JavaScript Framework Called Luna

In order to make Asana as fast and responsive as the team wanted, they built their own JavaScript framework called Luna. Initially it was meant to be its own language called LunaScript, but the company eventually backed down on developing its own syntax. You can learn more on the company’s Luna page, and on these two Quora threads on the subject.

The Team Plans to Turn Asana Into a Platform

Asana wants to be a platform for almost anything you would need in the enterprise – meetings, applicant tracking, bug tracking, performance reviews, calendaring, discussions, etc. In the project management space, Asana is competing with SaaS providers like Huddle and Manymoon. But as a platform for enterprise applications, it may be competing more in the long term with, Microsoft SharePoint and the recently launched Podio (coverage).

Source: 7 Things to Know About Asana: Facebook Co-Founder’s Collaboration Startup

Ben Horowitz On Shifting Technologies: “Go Out And Build ‘Question Mark’ …”

March 30th, 2011 03:39 admin View Comments

Andreessen Horowitz’ Ben Horowitz took the stage today at Web 2.0 Summit to talk about what to invest in and what to build during a technological shift.

Comparing our current technological shift to historical technological shifts like the platform shift from mainframe to client server, the database shift from hierarchical to relational databases and then the infectious domino effect of applications, operating systems, infrastructure, networks and eventually PCs after ward, “The results of the change are bigger than the change,” Horowitz said.

He went on to reiterate “the sell pick axes during a gold rush” investment and development philosophy, emphasizing this outside the tech industry by bringing up the example of how the innovations in automobiles created the created the suburbs and fast food industry.

So what are the resulting things to invest in according to Horowitz’? “Not what we expect,” he said.

“Go out and build “question mark” he ended with. “The one thing we can definitely predict is that there will be very large companies but what they will be will be completely unpredictable.”

You can view Horowitz’ entire slide deck above.

Source: Ben Horowitz On Shifting Technologies: “Go Out And Build ‘Question Mark’ …”

Andreessen Horowitz Adds New Venture Partner To Go After Enterprise Computing

March 21st, 2011 03:00 admin View Comments

Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz continues its expansion today, bringing on former Veritas and Citrix Exec Peter Levine as a venture partner. Most recently, the firm added entrepreneur Scott Weiss as general partner. With Levine, Andreessen Horowitz, which is just shy of $1 billion under management, gets a seasoned executive in the areas of virtualization and data storage.

As a venture partner, Levine’s role will include most of a the activities of a general partner (i.e., joining boards, working with entrepreneurs, driving deal flow, full access to the Andreessen Horowitz network) but not necessarily with a full-time commitment. Levine also lectures at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and will continue to serve as senior vice president of Strategic Development at Citrix.

At the firm, Levine will focus on investments in the “infrastructure” area, which broadly includes cloud computing, networking, virtualization, and storage software companies. In conjunction with the announcement, Andreessen Horowitz has announced Levine’s first investment as a partner—Bromium. The company is still in stealth, but Horowitz tells us that the startup is at the intersection of “security and virtualization.” As part of the undisclosed round of funding, Levine will be joining Bromium’s board.

While the virtualization and storage industries aren’t as sexy as group buying or social gaming, they are capable of bringing in massive exits. HP acquired 3Par for a whopping $2.4 billion and EMC just acquired Ipsilon for a cool $2.25 billion. And Goldman Sachs just put $70 million in virtualization company AppSense. The list goes on.

To say that Levine’s expertise in these areas of enterprise software is extensive is probably an understatement.

Levine was an early employee of Veritas Software and during his 11-year tenure with the company, helped to grow the organization from no revenue to more than $1.5B, and from 20 employees to more than 6,000. By the time he left Veritas in 2001, Levine was executive vice president for Strategic and Platform Operations. Prior to Veritas, he was a software engineer at MIT’s Project Athena and began his career as a software engineer at Spectrum Software.

After his time at Veritas, Levine was a general partner at the Mayfield Fund, where he focused on investing in enterprise software companies including Mendocino Software, Centrify, Zenprise, TrueDemand, OuterBay (acquired by HP), and Actona, (acquired by Cisco). Levine left Mayfield to become CEO of enterprise virtualization software company XenSource, which was subsequently acquired by Citrix for $500 million. At Citrix, Levine was the senior vice president and general manager of the Data Center and Cloud Division.

Ben Horowitz, who spent six months trying to recruit Levine, tells us that there were three main drivers in wanting to bring on Levine as a venture partner. First, both he and Marc Andreessen have always wanted to work with Levine, based on his reputation alone. Second, he says that Levine makes the firm much smarter in two main areas: 1. enterprise infrastructure (particularly with relation to virtualization and storage) and 2. sales channel models for enterprise products, which Levine was able to accomplish at Veritas. And lastly, Horowitz says that Levine’s extensive network at a variety of organizations and companies, including MIT, Veritas, and Citrix, make him an ideal addition. He says of Levine, “It’s hard to find a beter expert or networked person in this domain.”

As for why Levine, who always wanted to rejoin the venture industry, chose to join Andreessen Horowitz in particular, his decision came down two a few factors. First, the firm’s software focus was appealing. Horowitz, Andreessen and a number of the firm’s other employees worked at Opsware previously. “I like that the firm’s investment strategy focuses on investing around companies that try to solve hard problems through software.” And second, Levine says that the firm’s priority of the entrepreneur as a customer was important to him.

So will we continue to see Andreessen Horowitz beef up its venture team? Horowitz says yes, and that the firm will continue to add other types of partners (i.e. general) at a faster pace that venture partners. One thing is for sure—the firm is setting itself up to be a giant in the enterprise software investing space.

Source: Andreessen Horowitz Adds New Venture Partner To Go After Enterprise Computing