In Advance of Next Fund, Andreessen Horowitz Brings Aboard Martin Casado As GP

Andreessen Horowitz’s team continues to grow and change.

Today, the Sand Hill Road firm is announcing the appointment of its newest and ninth general partner: Martin Casado, the cofounder and CTO of Nicira and a pioneer of so-called software defined networking; Nicera was among the first companies to decouple software from networking hardware, allowing companies to see greater flexibility in managing their networking needs.

The company was an early bet for Andreessen Horowitz and ranks among its biggest exits to date. Indeed, in 2012, VMWare stunned many in the industry when it agreed to buy the young company for $1.05 billion in cash and $210 million in equity awards. (Soon after it was announced, Business Insider published a solid behind-the-scenes piece about how Nicira, which had raised roughly $42 million from private investors, came to be valued so highly.)

In a newly published post, firm cofounder Marc Andreessen recalls meeting Casado in 2009 when he was a “newly minted Stanford Computer Science Ph.D., vigorously pitching us on a networking future where software would run the show.”

Adds Andreessen, whose firm became Nicira’s first institutional investor, “He was clearly speaking our language.” (Andreessen’s cofounder, Ben Horowitz, sat on Nicira’s board.)

In a phone conversation yesterday, Casado — who joined VMWare as an SVP and general manager and has been leading the company’s networking and security business — said he’s eager to get to work on April 1.

While he hasn’t been an active investor until now, Casado has meaningful experience with startups, he notes. Among other things, last summer, he wrote a check alongside Andreessen Horowitz to the encrypted file sharing platform Keybase. He’s an advisor to several companies, including LightSpeed and CloudGenix. Casado has also served on VMWare’s M&A committee, helping the company vet potential strategic investments.

More, Casado will have the guidance, at least at first, of fellow general partner Peter Levine, a longtime operator who joined Andreessen Horowitz in 2011 and is heavily focused on enterprise deals.

Not that you should extrapolate too much from that, suggested Casado. “One of the things I love about Andreessen Horowitz is that they don’t pigeonhole GPs into [investing in a] certain state of funding or a certain sector.” Indeed, after focusing so narrowly on networking, he said he’s excited to broaden his focus to an array of shifts in software.

Casado’s hire comes roughly a month after we reported that longtime GP Scott Weiss will no longer be part of the firm’s next fund.

The appointment also follows the hiring of Vijay Pande, who was brought aboard in November to lead the firm’s charge into biotech investing.

Asked if Andreessen Horowitz will be announcing its next fund imminently (the various moves suggest as much), Levine, who we also spoke with yesterday, told us only, “We’ll let you know.”

As for adding yet another man (the nearly seven-year-old firm has already seen other male partners come and go, including John O’Farrell and Balaji Srinivasan), Levine said Andreessen Horowitz would “love to hire a woman.”

The firm has “made offers to great people,” he continued, but, “so far, we haven’t been able to hire anybody. “If you know anyone,” he said, “please send them our way.”