Andreessen Returns To Web With New Venture

Netscape co-founder and recently departed AOL executive Marc Andreessen made his official return to the Web world yesterday by unveiling Loudcloud, Inc., a new venture comprised of what he calls a “dream team” of Net innovators.

The freewheeling developer left his post as AOL’s chief technology officer in September, just seven months after AOL bought Netscape and turned the company’s focus to building subscribers for the AOL Web properties.

“New companies are being formed at a faster rate than ever, due to the enormous business opportunities created by the Internet and the massive influx of venture capital investment,” Andreessen said. As Internet sites become more sophisticated and complex, Loudcloud plans to “capitalize on these trends by delivering the technology and services high-growth Internet companies need to compete and win.”

Still In Development

Although Loudcloud’s mission is decidely vague — “accelerating Internet business growth and creation,” according to a company statement — the pedigree of the team Andreessen has assembled is anything but vague.

Andreessen takes the lofty yet quite flexible titles of co-founder and chairman of the board of directors, while Ben Horowitz will handle day-to-day operations as the company’s chief executive officer. Horowitz, who followed Andreessen in his two recent moves, handled the directory and security products divisions for Netscape and AOL’s Shopping Platform Group.

Loudcloud will likely be competing with some of the other big names in the Internet world, such as Internet and e-commerce solutions services from IBM, Hewlett Packard, Oracle and Microsoft. All are trying to expand their businesses by helping small companies get a foothold in the Internet without investing major cash in computer infrastructure.

Andreeseen Settles Down

Although Andresseen’s title suggests that he may have plenty of time to explore additional avenues for his creativity, he says that he will not be looking elsewhere for a while. “I am extremely excited about the caliber of the Loudcloud team and the size of the market opportunity. The opportunity strikes right at the heart of some of the most important and exciting trends facing business today. Loudcloud is my primary focus,” he said.

Internet directory guru Tim Howes, who co-invented the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol that has become the Internet standard for directories, is the company’s chief technology officer. Sik Rhee, vice president of operational architecture, came from Kiva Software, where he helped develop the Kiva Internet application server, and Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of operations, built Frontier GlobalCenter’s operations team and architecture and later formed Frontier Internet Ventures.

The company’s start-up money comes from its five co-founders — Andreessen, Horowitz, Howes, Rhee and Heilger.

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