Since the dawn of Web 1.0 Marc Andreessen has been one of Silicon Valley's heavy hitters, and now he's behind some of the most innovative companies defining the web's future.
He's on the board of Facebook, he invested in Twitter, earlier this year his fund invested in FourSquare, and now he's backing a new social search engine called RockMelt.
Andreessen last week closed a $650 million fund at "Andreessen Horowitz," the VC firm at which he's a partner so today in an interview on CNBC, I asked him how he's going to put that money to work.
First and foremost Andreessen is interested in investing in entrepreneurs. He's open to any variety of Silicon Valley computer science company, which includes social networking, commerce, software and storage. He tells us he's particularly excited about the huge potential in social, but he decides which companies to invest in, based on the entrepreneurs.
So, does the world need another browser now that the Internet world is increasingly shifting towards apps?
Andreessen's backing of the RockMelt browser doesn't mean that he doesn't believe in apps — in fact they're planning to introduce an app version of RockMelt. Andreessen referred back to when he invested the first major browser — Netscape. Back then they had no idea how people would use the Internet; now his RockMelt team is building in all the features they should have put in 15 years ago. It's designed so your network of friends follows you everywhere you go around the web, which Andreessen says comes with huge potential.
Though we expected Andreessen to say "no comment" when it comes to questions about his role on Hewlett Packard's board , he did weigh in on a question about what kind of confidence shareholders should have in the company's board. He said "We did exactly what we had to do," and "we think the company's future is very bright." As to questions about Oracle's challenges finding HP's CEO Leo Apotheker to serve him a subpoena, Andreessen said that he's "doing all sorts of things," visiting HP's operations around the world.
He wouldn't weigh in on Facebook, but Andreessen did have some compelling comments on the value of staying private. Andreessen acknowledged that "many of the best new tech companies are staying private for much longer." His explanation? There's more private capital and more opportunities for liquidity. And he says this is a good thing: companies can build for the long term, without worrying about Wall Street's reaction every quarter. And it'll take regulatory reform before IPOs become as appealing as they used to be.
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