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Venture Capital’s New Recruits: Volpi and Andreessen Join the VC Ranks

The printers are probably still warm from running off copies of last week’s announcement he was stepping down as the CEO of Joost, but former Cisco star Mike Volpi is wasting no time updating his resume.  Not a week removed and he’s already on to his next venture, literally.

Index Ventures (which is an investor in Joost) announced Monday that Mike will join their London office as a venture partner. 

While a new entrant to the VC world, Volpi is anything but inexperienced when it comes to evaluating companies.  The former Cisco Chief Strategy Officer oversaw a business development team that acquired more than 75 companies during his thirteen year stint at the networking equipment maker.

At Index, Volpi will focus on familiar territory: Telecom and Networking startups.  He’ll also try his hand at picking future stars from the Media and Internet sectors.

Said Giuseppe Zocco, a co-founder of the fund, “Mike has been a close advisor to the Index family for more than ten years.  He has worked closely with several of our portfolio companies such as Skype, TrialPay, Joost, FON and Telegent… so it’s a natural progression to have him officially join our team.”

Mike is expected to have a hand in both early stage and later stage investments.

…. Also announcing a career move to the Venture capital industry on Monday was Mark Andreessen.  Andreessen, who gained fame as the web wunderkind behind Mosaic (and then its commercial cousin Netscape), and further strengthened his reputation by founding and selling Opsware to HP (Opsware was originally called Loudcloud), confirmed earlier reports with the official launch of his own fund, dubbed Andreessen Horowitz.

Formed with former Opsware colleague Ben Horowitz (whom he also worked with at Netscape), the firm will start as an army of two with $300m in available capital to get the ball rolling.  The focus will run wide, wrapping in it computer science and info. tech companies.  Everything from front end services to back office, consumer facing to B2B is on the menu.   Not included, however, will be “Clean or Green”, biotech, life sciences, energy or transportation. The duo will focus on what they know.

Investments may range anywhere from $50k to $50m and will largely focus on the Silicon Valley region (though that is not an absolute rule).

Both Andreessen and Horowitz have been active Angel Investors in recent years, shaking hands on a reported forty five deals, so the move isn’t exactly a new direction for the team.  Arguably it’s more of a subtle shift.  A codification of practice to rule.  The establishment of the fund marks the transition from making investments with their own resources, to managing a larger pool.

In a blog post, Andreessen spelled out some of the firm’s founding principles, something of a mission statement.  Similar to Founders Fund, which was created by some of the entrepreneurs behind Paypal, Andreessen Horowitz will look set to emphasize their past entrepreneurial experiences as a key differentiator in their offering.

“We will hang our hat as a firm on the fact that both of us have extensive direct entrepreneurial and operating experience. We have built companies, from scratch to high scale – thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars of annual revenue.  In short, we have done it ourselves.  And we are building our firm to be the firm we would want to work with as entrepreneurs ourselves,” Andreessen wrote.

Andreessen will continue to serve as the Chairman of Ning and on the boards at Facebook and eBay

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