Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture firm that’s raised $2.7 billion in three years, hired Chris Dixon as a general partner, tapping the expansive network of a New York angel investor and two-time entrepreneur.
Dixon, 40, who becomes the seventh investing partner at the firm, said in an interview today that he plans to back mostly consumer-focused startups. He will be moving from New York to the Bay Area to work out of the firm’s office in Menlo Park, California, though he plans to keep investing in New York.
For Andreessen Horowitz, Dixon brings a wealth of connections, having invested early in 50 companies, including Skype Technologies SA, cloud-storage provider Dropbox Inc. and crowdfunding service Kickstarter Inc. He was also co-founder of Hunch Inc., which EBay Inc. (EBAY:US) purchased last year. Marc Andreessen, who started the firm with Ben Horowitz, said they’ve gotten to know Dixon in the past few months as he’s sat in on partner meetings, deal reviews and company pitches.
“We look for people who, when the next great entrepreneur enters the room, he looks across the table and says, ‘I want that person on my board,’” Andreessen said. “We’re highly inclined towards people who have done it themselves.”
Andreessen Horowitz has sent ripples across Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road, home to most of the country’s most prominent venture firms, by spending heavily on marketing, public relations and recruiting for itself and portfolio companies.
The co-founders were early executives at Netscape Communications Corp. and then started Loudcloud Inc. -- later Opsware Inc. -- which they sold to Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ:US) for $1.6 billion in 2007. Since establishing Andreessen Horowitz, they’ve hired partners including former OpenTable Inc. and EBay executive Jeff Jordan, IronPort Systems Inc. co-founder Scott Weiss and former Citrix Systems Inc. executive Peter Levine.
The firm has made large, high-profile bets on companies such as vacation-rental site Airbnb Inc., collaboration software provider Box Inc., e-commerce company Fab Inc. and online bulletin board Pinterest Inc. It’s also made money from the sales of portfolio companies Skype to Microsoft Corp., Instagram to Facebook Inc. and Nicira Inc. to VMware Inc. (VMW:US)
Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.
Dixon’s venture investing career began in 2003 as an associate at Bessemer Venture Partners. In 2009, while working at Hunch, he helped start Founder Collective, a seed-stage venture fund in New York. He is still an adviser to companies he invested in, though he’s not doing any more deals with the group.
Dixon follows prominent angel investors Shervin Pishevar and Kevin Rose in joining big firms. Pishevar joined Menlo Ventures last year and Rose, founder of Digg Inc., became a partner at Google Ventures earlier this year.
A successful angel investor is “somebody who’s proven they can do it without money,” Andreessen said. “The money is the easy part. It’s the actual work that’s the hard part.”
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