Portfolio Companies

The past few years have seen unprecedented growth in the adoption of mobile devices: tablet sales will surpass desktops this year alone (IDC), and it’s estimated that there will be 10 billion mobile connected devices by 2016 (Cisco). On top of it all, all these devices will connect to the Internet over congested mobile and WiFi networks, which will continue to be strained as applications get richer and more sophisticated. This massive influx of mobile device use coupled with larger, more complex applications is leading to sluggish performance for all but the most simple of applications.

Today’s Web and mobile users expect near instant delivery of applications. However, the explosion in size and complexity of these applications, and the sharp growth in the number of people accessing these applications over wireless networks give rise to very high levels of congestion on the “last mile” of the Internet. While the gap between user expectations and status quo widens because of these two trends, traditional solutions have proven to be ineffective—and utterly unprepared to respond—since they were never designed to solve the last mile problem. As a result, applications run slowly and users are disenfranchised with the promise of the Mobile Web.

This is where Instart Logic comes in!

A year and a half ago, I was introduced to Manav Mital, Raghu Venkat and Hariharan Kolam, the founders of Instart Logic. They were working on a revolutionary solution that would “enable Web applications on mobile devices and tablets to perform with great speed over standard wireless networks”. Their plans involved solving the last mile mobile delivery problem and this had very special appeal. At that time, having recently been responsible for the NetScaler business at Citrix, I fully understood what solving delivery issues could mean to users. The value proposition was compelling, the market potential huge and the team was just crazy enough to challenge the status quo. I was immediately interested and I joined the board.

Since that very first day, it has been a privilege to partner with the founders of Instart Logic.  They have built their idea into a business, and they are solving a need that is becoming more acute with each new mobile device that goes into service. I’ve come to love the team they’ve put together and the thoughtfulness that has gone into building the company. We are thrilled to be part of the Instart Logic story and look forward to seeing the next chapters unfold.

DataGravity is poised to transform the storage landscape. The company represents a once-in-a-decade opportunity to create an entirely new category of storage by unlocking the value of data that today sits idle in a storage system. I call the category “Storage Intelligence” and the transformation will be profound.

The story starts with DataGravity’s incredible founding team: Paula Long and John Joseph. Paula is a technical visionary in the storage world and was the co-founder of EqualLogic, a storage company acquired by Dell in 2008 for $1.4 billion. John was also an early member of the EqualLogic team and brings great talent in sales, marketing and operations. Unsatisfied with the pace of innovation in the storage world, Paula and John have teamed up again to royally disrupt the staid storage industry.

DataGravity’s focus on storage intelligence highlights entirely new thinking in storage innovation.   We’ve seen hundreds of new storage companies in the past few years and most have followed the well-worn path of incremental feature development, focusing on storing dumb bits of data at lower cost with faster access. Interesting and incremental—hardly transformative. A race to zero does not make for a killer new category.

Unlocking the next generation of storage requires looking at stored data not as a dumb repository of expensive bits, but as the foundation for usable, intelligent information. We’ve overlooked the data as the true asset to our business and we store it away without giving any thought to what it’s saying about our business, our customers and our users. The DataGravity team will take what is considered an idle operating expense and convert it to near instant business value.

We’ve only begun to see the explosion of data and its value to businesses of all sizes. DataGravity’s mission of turning dumb storage into meaningful information will give new meaning to storage infrastructure. As data centers evolve and information becomes central to the competitive advantage of organizations, DataGravity will fill a storage need that goes far beyond the current storage developments of today.

I am pleased to be joining the board of DataGravity and working with the team that is going to transform storage.

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

The team at 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 and the superb founding team.

As a former programmer and engineer, I sat in awe as Geoff and Matt presented Meteor at our first meeting. The meeting started normally enough: a brief discussion with the team on their backgrounds, a PowerPoint presentation on what Meteor was up to, a lot of nodding around the room, questions along the way. That all changed when Geoff decided to show us Meteor live. In all of 30 seconds, he hacked up a rich-client and back-end server application. The client was running locally yet synchronizing all of its data to a backend server. Fast, secure and in real-time. What I saw in front of my eyes was magic!

JavaScript has become the number one programming language on GitHub, above Java, C, PHP—everything. The reason for this is that Web clients, such as mobile devices and tablets, are becoming richer and more capable as compute devices as opposed to display devices, and running the application logic locally on the client results in performance, usability and scale for users.

The problem with JavaScript, however, is that it was designed to be a client-side language, leaving all the back-end server implementation to other languages. The result is that cloud-based Web applications take way too long to develop due to the sheer complexity and brittleness of the environment. Without Meteor, everything from security, to multi-tenancy, to latency, to database access requires special APIs and custom development, and developers need to know at least two languages.

The Meteor framework solves all of these problems. Meteor makes real-time application development dramatically faster and more approachable. It gives developers a comprehensive platform for writing Web apps in JavaScript where both client and server code use the same language and API, enabling the same code to be run on both the client and server. The result is real-time, cloud-based Web apps that are scalable, secure and distributed by design.

We see this technology as fundamentally important to the future of the Web. Through this investment in Meteor, as well as our recent investment in GitHub, we at a16z are excited to help developers build the next generation of applications.

The Meteor magic would not be possible without the founding team: Geoff, Matt and Nick. While they’ve graciously described the board and investors as a dream team, the real dream team is the Meteor founders. Passionate, committed and appropriately eccentric make them the best team in the universe to be working on this project. We are honored to be partnering with Meteor in their mission to build a new platform for cloud computing applications.

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.

When I first met Suhail Doshi, the CEO of Mixpanel, I was blown away by his passion, focus and vision for his company.  Here was a twenty-something, technical founder who articulated the perfect vision for collecting and analyzing user behavior on mobile devices.  Not only did he have vision, but Mixpanel was already collecting 4 billion actions every month and generating revenue from a wide-array of companies. (An “action” is a user-generated event that occurs when the user engages with a mobile app.) In fact, Mixpanel is on track to reach 7 billion actions by the end of May! Their solution was so differentiated and so perfect the customer base was built all by word-of-mouth.  No marketing and no sales.  Simply amazing.

It’s all about the data

Mobile applications are driving the new world of computing.  Nearly a million mobile apps have been developed in the past few years for iPhone, iPad and Android devices (TechNet).  This trend will continue—perhaps even accelerate—and the companies that make these applications are becoming acutely aware of the need to analyze user behavior and traction.  Knowing who is using an app for how long and which features are more used than others has a profound impact on how the application should be developed and deployed.  Providing a dedicated solution to this problem is exactly what Mixpanel does.  Until now, the best that mobile application developers could do was use older PC-based technology, which has been completely inappropriate for the mobile web.

It’s all about real-time simplicity

At the heart of Mixpanel’s product is a custom-built database that allows for data collection at massive scale, while at the same time offering simple analytics to users in real-time.  Mixpanel is the ultimate big data solution for analyzing everything users are doing with mobile applications.  So simple is the system to use and set up that many companies who have presented their business at Andreessen Horowitz have displayed their Mixpanel analytics at the pitch meeting to show user traction and cohort analysis.  We realized there was lightening in a bottle when nearly every company developing a web application was showing their user traction through the Mixpanel interface.  So simple, so elegant, and all without any sales effort.

It’s all about time

We at Andreessen Horowitz are ecstatic to have led Mixpanel’s Series A round of $10.25 million and I will be joining the board. Mixpanel analytics arrives exactly in time to take advantage of the massive wave of new mobile applications. We are honored to be partnering with Suhail and Mixpanel in their quest to “help the world learn about its data”.