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Andreessen Horowitz

Throughout my career, I’ve been an executive at several tech companies that have revolutionized enterprise computing. I’ve also been an investor and venture capitalist (in the past and currently) focused on finding the next BIG things in tech. But I’ve also been fortunate enough to teach at MIT and Stanford, where I currently teach (during different terms) a sales management class and an ethics class at the Graduate School of Business.

I love teaching because I am able to make a difference in a student’s future. Whether I help to unlock a new concept or see a student follow her lifelong dreams, teaching and passing on knowledge has become a passion of mine.

I also recognize that education methods have not fundamentally changed in hundreds—possibly even thousands—of years. The core learning structure has always been and remains one teacher and a limited number of students. This structure reduces learning opportunities for much of the world’s population (even in first-world countries) and limits the impact of the best educators to no more than a few dozen lucky individuals a year.

But it doesn’t have to continue like this. From a business perspective, this is a supply and demand problem in that the demand for quality education is not being met by an adequate supply of learning opportunities. From a technology perspective, this is a problem that can now be solved with software. From a societal perspective, there should be alarm bells going off for everyone that this is an issue that requires our boldest ideas and brightest minds.

And that’s why we’re so excited to announce our investment in Udacity, a team and company that we’re absolutely convinced will change the world. We believe the next big disruptive trend in software will focus on education and we feel that this is the team that will lead the way.

Let’s start with what Udacity does. By leveraging the economics of the Internet, Udacity aims to democratize education by delivering world-class coursework to hundreds of thousands of students everywhere. There’s no doubt that online learning will radically shift the economics of education.  Udacity has the magic formula because they are combining their platform with their content to make learning highly interactive, targeted and instantly available to students around the world.

The company recently released an online science class that was viewed by over 230,000 students. The innovative material, high quality presentation and ease of access propelled its viral spread. The team is building on this experience as they build their plans to materially change higher education.

We see a lot of distinguished entrepreneurs, but this team stands out, starting with the CEO, Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford professor and entrepreneur. This is a team that cares deeply about changing the world and was the core team that invented the Google self-driving car. As important as that project will be, Sebastian and the team want their legacy to be about reinventing education and they understand the wide-reaching impact that this will have on our future.

There is no question in my mind that the work being done today, to leverage software to improve education, will result in a better tomorrow for people all around the world. I am delighted to be joining the board of Udacity and look forward to working with this team as they change the world. Help us spread the word.

The world of enterprise infrastructure has been undergoing a fairly dramatic renaissance over the past several years. Where hardware once dictated datacenter capabilities, intelligent software is now the key component in defining and building the new datacenter. For example, you may have previously bought a server by specifying its hardware characteristics, but you can now define a server through software by way of virtualization. As the datacenter continues its transformation—from a static, hardware-based environment to one that is defined by software—the result will be an agile, cost-effective, enterprise-class infrastructure for next-gen computing.

To date, the major innovations in enterprise infrastructure have occurred in the compute and networking layers of the datacenter. VMware transformed the x86 hardware landscape through server virtualization, and more recently, Nicira (acquired by VMware) redefined networking by creating a software framework for networking. Storage is the last big piece of the datacenter that is ripe for disruption. While there have been recent innovations in new storage technologies like flash, storage architectures remain hardware-defined and have not changed fundamentally over the past 20 years.

Through Convergent.io, the potential of the software-defined datacenter will be fully realized—at last—with software-defined storage networking.

The team at Convergent.io is uniquely qualified to usher in a new world of software for storage. The founders have deep technical backgrounds and have been part of previous transformative trends in storage and virtualization. The three co-founders are infrastructure rock stars. Ramana Jonnala started his career at VERITAS where he helped to define the pre-eminent storage architecture of the past 20 years. Ramana was also instrumental at XenSource, which was acquired by Citrix, where he led a variety of virtualization initiatives. Keir Fraser and Andy Warfield have deep virtualization and storage backgrounds. Keir was one of the inventors of Xen and Andy has produced a mountain of storage code for virtualized environments. The team could not be better suited to take on the new storage networking opportunity.

As someone who has worked with this team for many years, I am thrilled to work with Convergent.io and the superb founding team.

We just invested $100M in GitHub. In addition to the eye-popping number, the investment breaks ground on two fronts:

  • It’s the largest investment we’ve ever made.
  • It’s the only outside investment GitHub has ever taken.

Why did we bet the farm on a series A investment? It starts with the four founders: Tom, Chris, PJ and Scott. They had a vision for a new way to develop software and created a new kind of company to pursue it. With only a handful of people in sales and marketing, the four grew the company to over 100 people, while growing revenue at nearly 300% annually—and profitably nearly the entire way.

How did they do it? They took an old technology category and turned it on its head. Source Code Management (SCM) is the second most fundamental tool for a programmer after compiler and development tools. It stores, versions and branches source code being developed by teams of programmers. At scale, these systems become highly complex and often difficult to manage. In addition, historically SCMs have been anti-social. The No. 1 conversation they generate is referred to as: “Who broke the build?” GitHub solves these two problems and dramatically expands the category by changing the old model in two important ways:

  1. Rather than forcing every development team in the world to deploy their own SCM, GitHub runs one big SCM in the cloud and the management issues vanish.
  2. GitHub organizes projects around people rather than code.

These changes may seem simple at first, but their ramifications have been stunning. Because modern programming tends to be about assembling code—in the form of libraries, open source work, etc.—as well as writing it, code tends to belong in one place where it’s easy to access. That place has become GitHub with over 3 million Git repositories.

By orienting around people rather than repositories, GitHub has become the de facto social network for programmers. If you are using another programmer’s open source libraries, are interested in what she’s doing or just a fan of her work, you can follow her on GitHub. If you need to hire great programmers, why look at resumes when you can view a candidate’s actual work on GitHub?

Beyond the growth and great products is GitHub’s incredible culture. Tom, Chris, Scott and PJ constantly push the limits on the status quo and drive new thinking in terms of management, hiring and clarity of vision. At a16z, we share this vision and I am honored to be joining the board and partnering with the company as they continue to build one of the great software success stories of our time.

We are delighted to announce that the six General Partners of Andreessen Horowitz, with our families, are all committing to donate at least half of all income from our venture capital careers to philanthropic causes during our lifetimes.

The reason is simple.  We are fortunate to work with some of the best entrepreneurs and technologists in the world, and in the process help create great and valuable companies.  That activity, done well over decades, can generate a lot of money that can then be productively deployed philanthropically back into the society that makes it all possible.  We love participating in this process, and we hope that our philanthropy can, over time, help make the world a better place.

As an initial catalyst, we are making an immediate group donation of $1 million to a set of six vital Silicon Valley-related nonprofit organizations.  Those causes, and their respective sponsors, are:

Ben and Felicia Horowitz: Via Services
Jeff and Karen Jordan: Ecumenical Hunger Program
John O’Farrell and Gloria Principe: Second Harvest Food Bank
Marc and Laura Andreessen: Fresh Lifelines for Youth
Peter and Martha Levine: Canopy
Scott and Pamela Weiss: The Shelter Network

Signed,

Ben, Jeff, John, Marc, Peter, and Scott

Data underlies every Web site, gaming company, social network and enterprise computing environment. We’re talking massive quantities, too, created by users and computers, and getting bigger all the time.  In fact, we’ve run out of room to store all of the data we produce, with IDC finding that the amount of information created, captured or replicated exceeded available storage for the first time in 2007 and that the size of the digital universe this year would be tenfold the size it was just five years earlier. This is a problem that is not getting easier to solve. Solutions that enable us to more effectively store and manage data will quite possibly be one of the fundamental breakthroughs in information processing.

Enter Actifio, a fast-growing data management company whose entire purpose is to enable highly efficient storing of information. When I met the company this past fall, they presented a study that illustrated the data problem more clearly than anything else I had seen: For every piece of data created, there can be up to 12 replicas of that data that then get stored in various places. Think about that.  Twelve additional copies made for tasks such as backup, global replication, disaster recovery, data analysis, etc.  No wonder there is a data deluge problem.

Imagine the positive impact on our ability to manage information if only one copy of data was needed for all use cases. This is exactly what Actifio does. We at Andreessen Horowitz are very excited to have led their most recent round of funding.

We are equally excited to be working with one of the best storage teams in the industry. Ash Ashutosh is a technical CEO/founder who has deep domain expertise. Furthermore, the team that Ash has assembled will enable the company to scale substantially from where it is today. I am joining Actifio’s board and personally look forward to working closely with the team.

Finally, Actifio’s product is truly revolutionizing the sleepy, decades-old backup market by providing an elegant and modern solution that condenses multiple data management tasks into a single use case. Current Actifio customers describe the product as simple to use, complete, and scalable, without the expense and headache of multiple existing solutions. There’s no better validation than what customers have to say and there are a lot of happy Actifio users.

At Andreessen Horowitz, we want to make sure we are invested in the most influential software companies, regardless of stage. Actifio has the team, market opportunity, and product to be one of the most influential companies in enterprise infrastructure. Andreessen Horowitz led this recent round, joining existing investors Northbridge, Greylock and Advanced Technology Ventures. The $33.5 million Series C financing gives the company the ability to programmatically scale, ultimately bringing Actifio to a data center near you.