Andreessen Horowitz Brings Aboard a Face Familiar to the Venture Industry

Peter Levine is heading back into the world of venture capital. Sort of.

The operating executive-turned-VC-turned operating executive has joined Andreessen Horowitz as a venture partner, where he will be leading occasional investments and taking board seats. As part of the arrangement, Levine gets a salary and other “incentives” relating to the investments he shepherds; meanwhile, Andreessen Horowitz gets access to Levine’s network.

The arrangement seems like a pretty good deal for Andreessen Horowitz. For starters, Levine is the firm’s first hire with prior venture capital experience, having been a partner at Mayfield Fund from 2002 to 2005. Levine is also on the faculty list at the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, giving the venture firm better access to technologies coming out of the university.

More, Levine comes attached to an acquisitive company with a $13 billion market cap. How? In 2006, Levine joined the virtualization software company XenSource as CEO. The next year, the publicly traded virtualization, networking and SaaS technology company Citrix acquired XenSource for $500 million, making Levine a senior VP for its data center and cloud division. Last October, Levine became Citrix’s senior VP for strategic development, reporting directly to president and CEO Mark Templeton. It’s a role Levine still holds.

Asked whether Citrix will be likely to look at potential buying opportunities through Levine’s affiliation with Andreessen Horowitz, he says, “I think there will be some natural synergies between [the companies and products] I invest in and Citrix’s interests, but the [portfolio companies’]  technologies will have broad applicability. They won’t be hand-tuned for [an acquisition by] any particular company.”

In recent months, Citrix has acquired the collaboration software maker NetViewer AG, based in Karlsruhe, Germany, and the Auckland, New Zealand-based cloud service provider EMS Cortex Terms of both deals weren’t disclosed.

Levine has already led one investment for Andreessen Horowitz: in Bromium, a new, stealth-mode infrastructure startup that “lives in a place where virtualization meets security,” says Andreessen Horowitz cofounder Ben Horowitz. The firm isn’t disclosing the size of the Series A round, but Horowitz offers that, “We probably wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for Peter.”

Before joining Mayfield in 2002, Levine spent 11 years at Veritas, where he rose to executive vice president and was responsible for worldwide marketing.

After leaving Mayfield in 2005, Levine planned to partner with another managing director who left the firm in 2005, Todd Brooks. The two were in the process of raising a $200 million venture fund called BLX Partners when Levine was offered the role or president and CEO of XenSource, a company that Levine had wanted to fund while at Mayfield. (The firm turned down the deal. Brooks passed away in early 2007.)

Asked today if he saw himself more as an operator or a VC, Levine said that he finds the prospect of “becoming a full-time VC again interesting. When I went to do the CEO role at XenSource, I thought I’d want to go back to the VC side of things at some point — that I’d want to do more VC stuff and less operating over time. I wasn’t sure how I’d get there, but I’m really glad to be here now.”