Andreessen Horowitz is announcing this afternoon that Adrian Fenty, the 41-year-old political star best for his work as the Mayor of Washington, D.C. from 2007 to 2011, will be joining the venture capital firm in the role of “special advisor.”
This is the second person to join Andreessen Horowitz as a special advisor: Last year, former Harvard president and U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers entered the venture capital world in the same role. The special advisor role is one that has worked so well with Summers and now Fenty, Wennmachers said, that the firm is “absolutely going to consider adding more” going forward.
In a phone interview today, Andreessen Horowitz partner Margit Wennmachers and Fenty said that the role will be a part-time position, with Fenty splitting his time between D.C. and Silicon Valley. To start, Fenty will be utilized mostly in helping to vet potential investments in companies that focus on his areas of expertise. He will also work on advising companies within Andreessen Horowitz’s existing portfolio.
Fenty is well-known for making major changes to the D.C. public education system during his tenure as mayor, so he will be working a lot with the education technology startups in Andreessen Horowitz’s portfolio, Wennmachers said:
“He’s a disruptive thinker and he’s got a track record to prove it. We don’t shy away from controversy, and we like that this guy knows how to shake up the status quo.”
Fenty personally met Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen over a year ago through their work with CollegeTrack, an educational non-profit aimed at helping kids from under-resourced high schools get on track to earn college degrees. In addition to ed-tech, Fenty said he’s also looking forward to working with startups addressing other big industries such as transportation and healthcare.
And although the worlds of venture capital and electoral politics don’t always overlap, Fenty said that there are certainly parallels between his old job and his new appointment.
“As a mayor you have a lot of districts you work with, and every day is different,” Fenty said, noting that the same could be said for VCs who work with different startups. However, the pace will likely be a bit quicker in this space than it is in the political realm. “I believe that change should happen fast and in big ways, and that’s the tech industry,” he said. “Some of these entrepreneurs and CEOs, their energy and ability to come up with new ideas is infectious.”