When we talk about the way in which technology has changed our lives in recent years, we usually think of innovative platforms or services like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Foursquare. It is unlikely, however, to think about the Andreessen Horowitz Investment Fund. And we should, because it is the one that discovered many of the most popular technology platforms of today at the early stage of their creation, it invested in them and turned them into the giants they are now. A fact that places the American fund among the most influential organizations in the field of technology, and one of the companies that have changed the lives of all of us the most in recent years.
Andreessen Horowitz was founded in
the summer of 2009 by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz. Its big star
undoubtedly is Andreessen who at that time was 38 years old, but had a
remarkable experience in the technology sector. He is among the representatives
of the first wave of Internet entrepreneurs and a co-founder of two of the
first popular web browsers in the history of the Internet - Mosaic and
Netscape. The second of them gained exceptional popularity in the middle of the
1990s, and the company behind him carried out an extremely successful primary
offer of shares in 1995, and, by the way, was also responsible for the
development of the SSL technology for safer browsing on the Internet. In 1999,
AOL acquired Netscape for USD 4.2 billion, then renamed the company and in turn
sold it to Microsoft.
After receiving USD 100 million from the sale of the first company, Marc Andreessen did not take a rest, but created, together with Ben Horowitz, another Internet corporation - Loudcloud that was later renamed to Opsware. In 2007, it was acquired by Hewlett Packard - for USD 1.6 billion. Today, Andreessen is widely known in the IT circles with his saying "Software is eating the world", meaning that software is gradually entering all other sectors and changing them fundamentally. The entrepreneur has every reason to claim this. Apart from being an important participant in the revolution of web browsers, he is currently in the board of directors of Facebook, eBay, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. He is also the founder of the Ning social networks platform and is among the most respected venture capitalists in the world of technology.
The list of companies, in which the Andreessen
Horowitz Venture Capital Fund, founded and headed by him, has shares looks like
a ranking of "who is who in the world of technology". The list
includes networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, the Foursquare
localization application, the Skype communication platform (although the
investment in it is at a later stage and has nothing to do with its initial penetration
on the market), the site for renting private properties - Airbnb, the first
site for group buying - Groupon, Kyft - the main competitor of Uber, the maker
of virtual reality headsets - OculusVR, TransferWise payment service and the
developer of Facebook applications - Zynga. Among the smaller investments of the
fund are companies, such as Box cloud system, BuzzFeed media, CoinBase
cryptocurrency exchange, GitHub developer community, Ripple cryptocurrency and
Marc Andreessen and company have
invested in many of them at a very early stage, thus practically defining the
future of the project. That means that today, we owe this investment fund many
of the services that we use on a daily basis, and that it has played an
important role in the outlook of the global network as we know it. Its
influence is particularly strong in probably the most popular Internet segment
of today - that of social networks. In 2011, the Fund invested USD 80 million
in the Twitter microblogging platform, which turned it into the only
organization that has shares in the four largest social companies to this
moment - Facebook, Twitter, Zynga and Groupon.
It is noteworthy that some companies
that have received funding from the Andreessen Horowitz, such as Instagram and
Oculus VR, were subsequently 100% acquired by another online player that owes
its development to the same fund - Facebook. We can only guess to what extent
the connection of Andreessen with Mark Zuckerberg have influenced this decision
and what would the price for the two acquired companies be, if the buyer were
someone else. Both Instagram and Oculus, however, are extremely promising
projects and most likely they would have developed successfully even in other
The eyes of the IT
industry analysers are already focused on the new startups, in which Andreessen
Horowitz has made equity investments over the past year, among them being Azimow,
Sigma and HealthIQ. Meanwhile, the Investment Fund already announced that in
the future it would invest as a priority in four technological segments: Artificial
Intelligence, Financial Technologies (the so-called fintech), Virtual Reality
and Business Software. Keeping in mind the already proven ability of Marc
Andreessen to recognize the future "hot" IT segments and projects
with potential, probably, it is a good idea to watch closely what is happening
in these four sectors of technology.
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