First came the announcement earlier in the year that Marc Andreessen was joining the ranks of "capital" -- a welcomed defection from "labor." And now my friend Reid Hoffman has jumped into the fray as well, joining Greylock Partners in their new fund (although he is not quite abandoning "labor" -- for the time being he will continue on as Executive Chairman of LinkedIn). Having two superstars like Marc and Reid join the venture business is excellent news at a time when the press is gleefully touting the demise of our profession. While the venture business is, no doubt, under serious pressure these days, Marc and Reid have rightfully determined that there will always be room for brilliant, thoughtful, long-term investors who see the immense value of innovation. There is no question that Marc and Reid both fit that profile and will have long, successful venture careers.
I have known Reid Hoffman for a long time and have greatly enjoyed the time I have spent with him. Reid has fantastic instincts, is a generous soul and is an intellectual powerhouse. But the thing that I think separates Reid from most of those around him is his thoughtfulness. Reid does not shoot from the hip. Ask him a question and he doesn't immediately launch into an answer. He cocks his head, thinks, and -- only when he feels he has an answer worth delivering -- shares his thoughts on the matter. His thoughtfulness as an entrepreneur, an investor, a board member (I have the pleasure of serving on the Six Apart board with him), harken back to his roots as an Oxford-trained philosopher. Reid's opinions are rooted in history and reason. Things need to "make sense" in the broadest sense of the term for Reid to embrace them. And as a result, he shares smart thoughts, builds smart businesses and makes smart investments.
When word of Reid joining the venture business was first announced, a friend of mine lamented the fact that Reid was now the "competition," but I have to say I really don't see it that way. I can't think of a single wildly-successful, venture-backed company that only had one venture firm as an investor (I guess with the exception of Microsoft, in which my partner Dave was the only professional investor). Company building is a team sport and now, more than ever, who's on your team really matters. That obviously includes the team of entrepreneurs who are building the company. But it also includes the team of investors who are supporting that team of entrepreneurs. So I don't view the arrival of Reid and Marc as greater competition in the venture business. I view it as the arrival of fantastic new collaborators with whom I look forward to working. The more smart people around the table, the better. Welcome, Reid and Marc! We're thrilled to have you on our side of the table.