Silicon Valley is The New Wall Street…and Andreesen Horowitz (a16z)

I have not met Ben Horowitz or Marc Andreesen of A16z, but they are not kidding around. It is just one of the many new reasons that Wall Street is moving West.

Make sure you watch this interview with Ben Horowitz (finish the post first):

I would not bet against these guys and their deep, patient, connected networks and pockets. They are big enough and connected enough that Carl Icahn thinks they have conflicts. I love this part of the letter:

Since Mr. Andreessen has been an eBay insider, he has engaged in several transactions that lead us to question his loyalty to eBay. During Mr. Andreessen’s time on the eBay Board he has purchased large stakes in two former eBay subsidiaries, reaping significant personal riches. In September 2009, an investor group that included Mr. Andreessen, preempted a planned Skype IPO (in which stockholders would have ended up making multiple billions of dollars) and bought 70% of Skype for less than what eBay had paid to acquire it(1). Mr. Andreessen basked in the purchase, saying that “Skype is the archetypal phenomenon: a breakthrough technology”(2). His partner was even more excited, stating that “Skype is on its way to becoming one of the most important companies in the world”(2). One cannot help but wonder what happened to Mr. Andreessen’s fiduciary responsibility to share his feelings with Mr. Donahoe and the board rather than preempt the planned IPO to further his own interests. A mere 18 months later, Mr. Andreessen’s investor group flipped Skype to Microsoft for $8.5 billion, a value three times what they paid for it(3), netting approximately $4 billion(3) at the expense of eBay stockholders


Sounds like…Hmm…two words…three syllables…GOLD-MAN-SACHS!

Kidding aside, these are serious allegations and this could be an incredible battle.

I have long thought you did not have to live in Manhattan to be a part of Wall Street, but I did not think that Silicon Valley would be the place to disrupt it. I did not think Silicon Valley really cared and I did not think the east coast talent would ever move out west.

I have changed my mind. Yesterday, I blogged and linked to some of the statistics. The trend has too much momentum.

I sent my blog post around to a bunch of hedge funds and money managers yesterday.

One of my fund partners and good friend Bill Gurtin sent me back a note:

The Valley is Wall Street 30 years ago, but at least they’re producing something.

Bill is not just some regular investor. He was a partner at Goldman Sachs in the 1980’s and now runs Gurtin Asset Management with well over $7 billion in assets (Municipal Bonds). He does that out of La Jolla.

Bill helps us (Social Leverage) look at a lot of the financial web and technology ideas and talk to the entrepreneurs before we invest.

Silicon Valley has an edge building software companies, especially big ones that need scale early. Now the Valley has some experienced talent from the banking world and the mobile web has brought down enough walls to speed up the Wall Street disruption.

I doubt Larry Page at $GOOG thinks Wall Street is big enough or worth enough to the bottom line or this disruption would happen much faster.


  1. Mike Kijewski says:

    I’m looking forward to the day when my mutual fund prospectus includes quotes from Wu Tang Clan songs. (My Ben Horowitz habit.)

  2. Logan Frederick says:

    Really enjoyed the post. Regarding your last line, I think Google avoids direct finance disruption because using its data and financial position to start a finance subsidiary might raise regulatory issues that they don’t feel are worth addressing.

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