This story is featured in the 4Q 2019 issue of the PitchBook Private Market PlayBook.
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz first crossed paths about a quarter-century ago, when Andreessen was the soothsaying co-founder of Netscape and Horowitz was a product expert quickly ascending the ranks at the web-browsing pioneer. At first, they clashed. But before long, the two men developed a certain kind of chemistry.
After AOL acquired Netscape for $10.2 billion in 1999, Andreessen and Horowitz began to poke around for what was next. That same year, they teamed with two other entrepreneurs to create LoudCloud, later known as Opsware, an innovative web-hosting startup that later pivoted to offering Software as a Service. In 2007, Andreessen and Horowitz inked another billion-dollar exit, selling the company to HP for a cool $1.7 billion.
With their bank accounts well-stocked, Andreessen and Horowitz turned their focus to investing full time.
For a while, they were among Silicon Valley’s most prominent angels, striking deals on their own. Before long, they decided to formally reunite. And in 2009, the new firm of Andreessen Horowitz launched its first fund, a $300.0 million effort focused on the software space.
In the summer of 2011, Andreessen published his now-famous essay on why software was eating the world. In the ensuing years, the ideas in the piece formed the basis for a16z’s strategy. With early investments in companies such as Facebook, Lyft, GitHub, Slack and many more, the firm put its money where its co-founder’s mouth was, staking a whole generation of companies that were using software to transform the way people interact, get around and do their work.
In the process, Andreessen and Horowitz turned a16z into one of the most respected VCs in Silicon Valley, a sought-after backer whose presence on a term sheet signaled to the rest of the world that a young startup was on the right track.
This year was supposed to be a triumphal one for the firm, with four of its…