Conde, who officially starts in September, has spent the last 15 years working largely in genomics, including co-founding the genome analysis company Knome (acquired in 2015 for undisclosed terms) and more recently becoming chief strategy officer at a small biotech company, Syros Pharmaceuticals, which staged an IPO last year. (Conde says Syros acquired a cancer-fighting compound from a Japanese company and that the drug, which he says has been proven safe and effective for a subset of patients, is now in a Phase 2 trial.)
Still, Conde, who also has an MBA from Harvard and worked previously in investment banking, has known for some time that he wanted to switch sides at the table and jump into investing.
“From a near-term perspective, the convergence of computer science and life sciences is leading to faster innovation cycles,” says Conde.
Indeed, as the world shifts away from the previous paradigm, wherein it took many years and millions of dollars to prove out a concept, Conde wanted to “use my experiences to guide and ultimately invest in companies and opportunities at this intersection” because things are moving so much faster at this point. In fact, he says, after talking with Andreessen Horowitz and with its general partner, Vijay Pande, specifically, it “became clear that the firm, and Vijay specifically, shares my vision for where the industry is going.”
Certainly, Conde could do worse as far as partners go. Pande was hired into Andreessen Horowitz in late 2015 after spending 16 years teaching chemistry, structural biology and computer science at Stanford University.
Pande, like Conde, also has experience in startups. In 2014, for example, he co-founded Globavir, a seed-funded infectious disease company. Pande also founded Folding@home, a now 17-year-old distributed computing project for disease research.
Pande says the two plan to work together closely, rather than divide their attention based on particular areas of interest. That means together investing a $200 million fund called the AH Bio Fund that Andreessen Horowitz pulled together in 2015, as it was hiring Pande.
Asked if Conde’s hiring means a second bio fund is imminent (a new general partner often signals as much), Pande declines to say, though he does note that he is already “ahead of schedule” in investing that debut fund, which has now been used to make 11 investments in 10 startups across a variety of disciplines.
The firm has also backed several companies whose funding has yet to be announced.