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Andreessen Horowitz Partners Make Historic Philanthropic Pledge

Wednesday, 25 Apr 2012 | 5:20 PM ET
Marc Andreessen
Ryan Anson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Marc Andreessen

A number of big Silicon Valley names, like John Doerr, have signed on to Warren Buffett and Bill Gatespromise to give over half their fortunes to charity.

But never before has an entire VC firm made the pledge—until today.

All six partners at Andreessen Horowitzare committing to donate at least half of their lifetime income from venture capital investments to charity. This is a major commitment from the powerhouse Menlo Park fund that’s backed Facebook and every other major social media company.

Founding Partner Marc Andreessen tells me he hopes that this will set an example, and that other private equity and venture capital funds will follow. His partner Ben Horowitz says that if the company meets its goals of being a top tier VC firm, this could mean billions of dollars for charity.

The firm is certainly well on its way to that promise: The firm has backed more than 100 companies, including Facebook, Groupon, Twitter, Zynga, Foursquare, and Instagram. It’s raised a total of $2.7 billion since 2009. And it’s already returned the principal of its first, $200 million fund to investors, after just three years.

How did this philanthropic decision come about? Andreessen and Horowitz tell me that it fits with the culture of the firm, but that partner Scott Weiss gets credit for suggesting it when he was interviewing for his role at the company. They joked that given that none of the partners have expensive hobbies like polo, they wanted to figure out a charitable strategy, hoping that by organizing they’d set an example.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.