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Boy Can He Pick 'Em

E.B. Boyd | July 13, 2012 | Story Tech World

The tech world reeled this spring when Facebook picked up Instagram for a cool $1 billion—but Andreessen had bet on the photo-sharing app two years earlier, and
turned a 31,100 percent (!) profit for his trouble. Here, a recap of his prescient career.

Cocreates the Mosaic
browser while still in
college, then moves
to Silicon Valley at the
tender age of 22 and
cofounds Netscape.
A year later, Netscape
goes public, kicking off
the tech frenzy of the
late ’90s.

AOL buys Netscape
for $4.2 billion, and
Andreessen joins the
company as CTO—but
soon gets big company–
itis and returns west to
cofound LoudCloud,
which managed the
infrastructure of the
booming web industry,
with Netscape colleague
Ben Horowitz.

Demand for LoudCloud’s
services plummets in
the wake of the dot-com
bust, so Andreessen
and Horowitz sell off
half the business and
relaunch the remainder
as Opsware. The stock
tanks at first, but by
2007 the company is
back, and its valuation
tops $1 billion, making
Andreessen one of
the fabled few tech
entrepreneurs to hit that
mark twice.

Andreessen and
Horowitz become
venture capitalists, and
over the next three years,
their firm, Andreessen
Horowitz, takes a stake
in companies that many
initially dismiss but that
ultimately prove to be
gold mines, including
Facebook, Groupon,
Skype, Pinterest,
Airbnb, and Zynga.

Andreessen dashes off a
check for $250,000 to the
maker of photo-sharing
app Instagram, another
startup people think is a
long shot (as in, “People
take pictures with their
cell phone and share
them with friends. What’s
the big deal?”). When
Facebook buys Instagram
in April 2012 for $1 billion,
Andreessen Horowitz’s
shares are estimated to
be worth $78 million.

Forbes lists Andreessen
as number 2 on its Midas
List of the top 100 tech
investors (Horowitz
is number 21) and
estimates his net worth
to be $600 million.
Facebook goes public,
and Andreessen’s
personal shares are worth
$130 million. A few more
good investments, and
he’ll join Silicon Valley’s
exclusive club of tech
billionaires, which has
only 23 members.


Photography by: