The firm is keeping the name, but Andreessen Horowitz is officially no longer just the Ben and Marc show. It has added a fourth general partner (the third was John O’Farrell), and astoundingly, he didn’t come from Opsware. The new dealmaker is Scott Weiss, an experienced entrepreneur who may not be a household name, but like Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen has serious entrepreneurial chops, having built consumer and enterprise companies to large scale. The most recent was IronPort, the often forgotten PayPal mafia hit that Weiss co-founded with Scott Banister, selling the company to Cisco for $850 million. Before IronPort, Weiss was employee number 13 at Hotmail.
Some people may view the choice as a strange one, given Weiss’s absence from the current Web 2.0 frenzy. Then again, not too many years ago some of the press considered Andreessen and Horowitz has-beens of the bubble era.
This clearly wasn’t a decision the firm took lightly. The interview process stretched over fifty hours of conversations, said Weiss and Horowitz in a call last night about the news. Horowitz wrote a long blog post about their decision, but a lot of it can be boiled down to this line: “Bottom line is that if I was an entrepreneur again, I’d want to work with Scott.”
That kind of chemistry can’t be underestimated, especially at a firm like Andreessen Horowitz. As hot as the firm is, this isn’t an easy job for anyone to waltz into. Not only are Andreessen and Horowitz the giants of the firm and incredibly tight since their days at Netscape, the two have a reputation for being demanding and prickly.
The biggest advantage may be Weiss’s enterprise chops. Most venture firms are dramatically overweighted in consumer Internet expertise, with Horowitz and Greylock’s Aneel Bhusri two of the remaining, active enterprise giants on Sand Hill Road who have founded enterprise software companies, taken them public, served on the public boards and picked solid bets among the newer generation of companies. It’s another sign that Andreessen Horowitz sees a big opportunity in business software.