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Author Archives: Marc Andreessen

On Monday, Carl Icahn claimed to have uncovered evidence of a “workaround of the technology that was the subject of the licensing dispute between eBay and Skype’s founders and that was reportedly the cause of Microsoft ‘walking away’ [from buying Skype as an alternative to eBay selling Skype to the Silver Lake syndicate].” (1)

There was no workaround.

There was speculation about and discussion of a potential workaround.

I never believed it would work.

Had there been a workaround, the Skype syndicate wouldn’t have had to settle the litigation with the founders and include them in the syndicate, which would have made the Skype transaction more profitable for the other members of the syndicate, which included eBay and Andreessen Horowitz.

Mr. Icahn’s latest conspiracy theory is not only imaginary and false — it also flunks basic logic.

(1) http://www.shareholderssquaretable.com/we-believe-based-on-evidence-we-have-newly-uncovered-that-donahoes-inexcusable-incompetence-cost-ebay-stockholders-over-4-billion/

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Information regarding the names of eBay’s directors and executive officers and their respective interests in eBay by security holdings or otherwise is set forth in eBay’s preliminary proxy statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, filed with the SEC on March 10, 2014.

This document, in addition to any definitive proxy statement (and amendments or supplements thereto) and other documents filed by eBay with the SEC, are available for no charge at the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov and at eBay’s investor relations website at http://investor.ebayinc.com. Copies may also be obtained by contacting eBay Investor Relations by mail at 2065 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, California 95125 or by telephone at 866-696-3229.

I’m very excited to announce that Balaji S. Srinivasan is joining Andreessen Horowitz as our newest General Partner.

Balaji is both an entrepreneur and an academic. He was the cofounder and CTO of Counsyl, where he developed a new pre-pregnancy genomic test for a variety of heritable diseases.

Counsyl’s test won the Wall Street Journal’s Innovation Award for Medicine, was named one of Scientific American’s Top 10 World Changing Ideas, and was the basis for Balaji’s recent MIT TR35 award. Needless to say, genomics is a very technically challenging area; his acceptance speech discusses some of the many issues they needed to tackle, from DNA sequencing to robotics to insurance claims processing. Counsyl has quickly become one of the largest clinical genome centers in the world, with their technology now used in ~4% of American pregnancies. Widely adopted by women’s health groups, their assay has made it much more affordable for minorities to do preventive screening for diseases like Sickle-Cell Anemia and Beta Thalassemia.

Prior to Counsyl, Balaji obtained BS, MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Chemical Engineering, all from Stanford. He then taught data mining, statistics, and computational biology in the Department of Statistics at Stanford before founding Counsyl. Recently, he taught an online Stanford course on the theory and practice of startups that reached over 125,000 students. He also runs the Stanford Bitcoin Group and advises a number of early stage companies.

Balaji is a big thinker. He recently penned an editorial piece titled Software is Reorganizing the World that discusses how social network relationships formed in the cloud are beginning to catalyze physical migrations and gatherings of increasing scale, thereby reorganizing the world.

As a General Partner, Balaji will be leading investments and joining boards on behalf of a16z. While broadly interested in technology in general, he’s particularly enthusiastic about “real world” applications where digital bits interface with physical atoms and substantive problems, such as quantified self (healthcare), MOOCs/edtech (education), Bitcoin (finance), drones, and 3D printing.

This is a guest post by our newest board partner, Steven Sinofsky.

In much of the world’s urban areas, it can seem like there are more cars than people. In the U.S., there are nearly 800 cars per 1,000 people. With that comes increasing congestion, pollution, and resource consumption. Yet, surprisingly, the utilization of vehicles is at an all-time low—to put it simply, the more vehicles there are, the harder it is to keep them all in use. That’s a lot of waste.

Throughout government and private business, tens of millions of passenger cars are part of vehicle fleets used on-demand by employees. Making vehicles available when and where needed and keeping track of them is a surprisingly manual process today. Not surprisingly as a result, it’s fraught with high costs and low efficiency. In an effort to meet demand, managers of these fleets simply add vehicles to meet the highest peak demand.  This results in more cars to own, manage, insure, store, and so on. But maddeningly, most of these cars end up either sitting idle, parked in the wrong place, or awaiting replacement of lost keys.

John Stanfield and Clement Gires had an idea for a better way to tackle the fleet problem. They shared a vision for reducing the number of cars on the road and increasing the amount any given car is used, while also making it easier than any other program existing to use a shared car.

John has a physics degree from Central Washington University and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford. He’s a conservationist at heart, having spent his years just after college as a forest firefighter. Along the way he invented an engine that processed vegetable oil into biodiesel. At Stanford, he began implementing an idea for a new type of vehicle—an electric car for urban areas that would be a resource shared among people, not owned by a single person. It would be a car that you jump in and use when needed, on demand.

About the same time, Clement Gires was studying behavioral economics at École Polytechnique when he wasn’t also working as part of a high-altitude Alpine rescue unit. Clement worked on the famed Vélib’ bicycle sharing program in Paris which encompasses over 18,000 bicycles in 1,200 locations providing well over 100,000 daily rides. Clement brought novel approaches to improve the distribution and utilization of bikes to the program before coming to the U.S. to study Management Science and Engineering at Stanford.

While climbing in Yosemite, John and Clement got to know each other. Initially, they spent time pursuing the electric vehicle John began, but soon realized that the real value of their work was in the underlying technology for sharing, which could be applied to any car.

Local Motion is bringing to market a unique combination of hardware, software, and services that redefine the way fleets of vehicles can be deployed, used, and managed. There are three unique aspects of the business, which come together in an incredible offering:

  • Simple design.  Open the app on your mobile device, locate a car or just go out to the designated spots and locate a car with a green light visible in the windshield—no reservations required. Walk up to the car, swipe your card key (same one you use for the office) or use your Bluetooth connected phone and the car unlocks and you’re in control. Forget to plug in your electric car and you’ll even get a text message. When you’re done, swipe your key to lock the car and let the system know the car is free.
  • Powerful hardware.  Underneath the dash is a small box that takes about 20 minutes to install.  In the corner of the windshield is an indicator light that lets you know from a distance if the car is free or in use. The hardware works in all cars and offers a range of telemetry for the fleet manager beyond just location. In modern electric cars, the integration is just as easy but even deeper and more full-featured.
  • Elegant software. Local Motion brings “consumerization of IT” to fleet management.  For the fleet manager, the telematics are presented in a friendly user experience that integrates with your required backend infrastructure.

The folks at Local Motion share a vision for creating the largest network of shared vehicles. Today, customers are already using the product in business and government, but it’s easy to imagine a future where their technology could be used with any car.

Today, we are excited to announce that Andreessen Horowitz is leading a $6M Series A investment in Local Motion. I’m thrilled to join the board of Local Motion with John and Clement as part of my first board partner role with Andreessen Horowitz (see Joining a16z on my Learning by Shipping blog).

–Steven Sinofsky

Today I am delighted to help unveil the best robotics startup I have ever seen — Anki.

Andreessen Horowitz has been the main venture investor in Anki, which has been operating in stealth mode until today, since February 2012. Keeping my mouth shut about this company for 16 months has been one of the hardest things I have had to do since we started our firm!

Anki is one of those companies that has an exciting story on top and then a profound story underneath.

The exciting story is melding robotics, AI, hardware, and software into a new kind of entertainment experience. Playing Anki Drive, their first product, is a delight for people of any age — it’s amazing to see fully autonomous robot cars in high-speed races, making thousands of independent decisions per second, maneuvering and competing, in ways never before possible. Your jaw drops.

The profound story is that it is finally time to bring robotics and AI out of the lab and into everyday life. The Anki team brings the kind of engineering and science normally focused on multi-million-dollar industrial and military robots into the home — controlled by your iPhone. There is no limit to the kind of real-world robots and AI that the Anki platform will enable in the years to come.

We are thrilled to work with Boris, Hanns, Mark, and Patrick to help them realize their vision of ubiquitous robotics and AI. This is why we became venture capitalists.

I am tickled pink to announce Andreessen Horowitz’s participation in a new project called the Glass Collective.

Along with our friends at Google Ventures and our old partners in crime at Kleiner Perkins, we are working with Google to encourage a new generation of startup entrepreneurs to build applications for Google’s new breakthrough Glass platform.

First, Google Glass itself: Glass is a new wearable computing product and platform being developed by Google.

The thesis of Glass is profoundly transformational — to integrate connectivity and information directly into your field of vision and into your normal daily life. Instead of having a phone in your pocket or a tablet in your briefcase, why not have the Internet in your field of vision when you want it — and why not feed the Internet with live video and audio that matches what you see and hear at any time.

This provocative idea has already inspired a huge explosion of speculation and debate in the technology industry. In situations like this, I always look to history for analogies to try to understand how people are going to come to grips with new technology. One obvious historical analogy is the web browser, which is 20 years old this year — both the browser and Google Glass are windows into the Internet that everyone will be able to use.

But I’d rather reference another transformational technology that is also 20 years old this year. At the same time we were introducing the browser in 1993, Steven Spielberg released his magnum opus, the film Jurassic Park. For those of us who had worked in 3D computer graphics in the years prior, Jurassic Park was a stupendous breakthrough —  the dream of computer graphics truly come to life in a stunningly visceral and emotionally overwhelming way.

In a newly published oral history of Jurassic Park, Spielberg and his producing partner Kathleen Kennedy tell this delightful story:

KENNEDY: I remember getting the phone call where Dennis [their animation genius] said, “I think I have something you and Steven should take a look at.” We saw this wire-frame model of a dinosaur running across the screen, and it caused five or six of us to literally leap to our feet –because it was so extraordinary and –significantly beyond anything we had seen in [animation] up to that point.

SPIELBERG: The last time my jaw dropped like that was when George Lucas showed me the shot of the Imperial cruiser [in Star Wars]. I showed it to [stop-motion effects legend] Ray Harryhausen. He was absolutely enthralled and very –positive about the paradigm changing. He looked at the test and said, “Well, that’s the future.”

When it comes to Google Glass in the context of the Internet, I’m like Ray Harryhausen: Well, that’s the future.

Now, of course, a lot of work remains to be done between today and the full realization of the Glass vision. The exciting part about today’s announcement of the Glass Collective is that just like with the Internet and smartphones, a huge amount of that work will be done by third-party developers, who are going to have in Glass a brand new platform and springboard for creativity to play with. All of us involved in the Glass Collective are absolutely certain that developers are going to create thousands of ways for millions of people to use Glass and improve their lives and the world around them.

And so with the Glass Collective, we are open for business (glasscollective@a16z.com) to seed fund startups to build the first generation of amazing Glass applications.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your compilers.

I am humbled and grateful to be a co-winner of the 2013 Queen Elizabeth Prize. Thank you to the judges, and congratulations to Robert, Vint, Louis, and Tim.

I would first like to acknowledge my partner in creating Mosaic, Eric Bina. Eric co-wrote the original code for Mosaic with me — specifically all the difficult parts.

I would also like to acknowledge Larry Smarr, Joe Hardin, and all of my colleagues at NCSA and the University of Illinois at the time.

I would further like to acknowledge the distributed group of innovators and contributors who collectively built the web as we know it today during the era in which Mosaic was created.

I will donate the prize money to charitable programs that help spread the culture and foundational knowledge of engineering — such as scholarships and summer programs for engineering students.

It is amazing to think that the consumer Internet and the World Wide Web are still only 20 years old. So much important work has been done in the last 20 years — including bringing the Internet to more than 2 billion people around the world but also so much important work has yet to be done. I firmly believe our field’s best days are still ahead of us, and I can’t wait to see what the next generation of engineers will accomplish.

I’m excited to welcome Chris Dixon to Andreessen Horowitz as our seventh General Partner!

Chris has an extensive and distinguished track record in Internet entrepreneurship and angel investing, including all of the following:

  • Cofounder of two prominent startups of the last decade, SiteAdvisor and Hunch, both of which had successful exits to McAfee and eBay respectively.
  • Highly successful personal angel investments in more than 50 startups including Hipmunk, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Stripe, Pinterest, Dropbox, Codecademy, Stack Overflow, Bloomreach, Optimizely, Trialpay, OMGPOP, and our own favorite, Skype.
  • Cofounder of a prominent East Coast seed venture fund called Founder Collective. Chris’s investments through Founder Collective include MakerBot, Ifttt, Milo, Betaworks, Groupme, and Buzzfeed.
  • Prominent blogger on entrepreneurship and startups.

Those are the facts. Here’s the context that made it clear to us that Chris is our kind of person:

  • Chris began programming at 8 (beating me by a whole year), starting on a TRS-80 Model 1.
  • Chris had the good judgment to both join one of the great legendary venture capital firms, Bessemer, in 2003, and also to leave to start his own company, SiteAdvisor, two years later.
  • Chris started SiteAdvisor in 2005, during the height of the nuclear winter for startups following the dot com bust. It’s hard to think back from the current startup boom to that time, when only the most determined and bull-headed entrepreneurs were starting companies. As my partner Ben often says, the most important attribute for entrepreneurs is courage, and the founding of SiteAdvisor showed that Chris has it in spades.
  • Chris also started angel investing in 2006 — again, this was a time in which the Internet angel investors who were active in the market could be enumerated on the fingers of two hands. (Most of the prior generation of angel investors had their fingers burned entirely off.)
  • Hunch, Chris’s second company, was much higher profile than SiteAdvisor but never quite clicked as a business. To his enormous credit, rather than giving up, he guided Hunch to a successful acquisition by eBay. Since I’m on the eBay board, I’ve had the chance to watch the deal from the inside all the way through, and I think the Hunch/eBay deal could be a case study for successful acquisitions and integrations of early-stage startups by large technology companies. The highly talented Hunch team is doing great things within eBay today.
  • Both in the reference calls we did prior to making our decision, and in the incoming calls we have received since Kara Swisher inconveniently (and accurately) leaked our discussions with Chris on Saturday, one central fact keeps coming up about Chris in his role as an angel investor: he is one of the most valuable and useful investors any entrepreneur can have. Entrepreneurs who work with Chris routinely say that he was a bigger contributor to their success than their own VCs — a characteristic we really respect.
  • Chris’s blog is not only one of the best living textbooks of entrepreneurship in the world, but conveys a distinct point of view on how to build a company. When you work with Chris, you know what you’re getting  — in particular, his value system shines through.

We’re thrilled to welcome Chris to the team!