Andreessen switches sides

Angel investor and Internet entrepreneur Marc Andreessen is launching a venture fund with some assistance from Accel Partners and Accel Managing Partner Jim Breyer, according to a source familiar with the effort.

Andreessen, best known as co-founder of Netscape Communications, first discussed his venture effort, called Andreessen Horowitz, on the “Charlie Rose Show” in February. He told talk show host Charlie Rose that he has teamed with Ben Horowitz, a former executive at Opsware (previously known as Loudcloud). Horowitz was also a vice president at Netscape, and he and Andreessen have co-invested as angel investors since 2007.

Andreessen has declined to offer any specifics on the fund beyond what he told Rose, but a source says that Accel and Breyer are “strategic partners” in the effort. Andreessen and Breyer both sit on the board of Facebook. Andreessen joined the board in June, while Breyer led the first venture investment in the social networking company in April 2005.

Andreessen has been making angel investments for several years. He has backed an average of half-a-dozen Internet startups a year, according to data collected by tech news website TechCrunch. Last year it backed search company Blekko, online publishing company Crowdfusion, social entertainment company EQAL, dating website I’minlikewithyou, social investing site kaChing, virtual worlds company Metaplace, and mobile video company Qik, according to TechCrunch.

Andreessen told Rose that his investment pace has actually been more regular than the records indicate, and that he and Horowitz have invested their own money in 36 startups over the past three years.

Andreessen said his new venture firm will raise a fund, suggesting it will turn to outside investors, and will up its investment target from $100,000 to $500,000 per deal.

“We’re seeing a whole generation of startups that actually don’t need very much money to get started, so the cloud computing example, or a mobile application, an iPhone developer doesn’t need very much money to get started,” he told Rose.

Three-time entrepreneur Andreessen has been a frequent blogger in recent years and vocal about his experience with venture capitalists.

“Odds are, nothing your VC does, no matter how helpful or well-intentioned, is going to tip the balance between success and failure,” he wrote on his blog in June 2007.

There’s probably still no substitute for the VC who has been a VC for 20 years and has seen more strange startup situations up close and personal than you can imagine.

Marc Andreessen

The best venture capitalists, he wrote, are not those with operating experience, but those with investing experience.

“There’s probably still no substitute for the VC who has been a VC for 20 years and has seen more strange startup situations up close and personal than you can imagine,” he blogged.In addition to sitting on the Facebook board, Andreessen is a board member of eBay and was an early investor in companies such as Digg and Twitter.Andreessen is also chairman of social networking company Ning, which he co-founded with CEO Gina Bianchini in 2004. That company has raised a total of $104 million in venture backing to date, including an undisclosed amount over two rounds from Andreessen in January 2007, $44 million from Legg Mason Wood Walker and others in July 2007, and $60 million from unspecified institutional investors in April 2008, according to according to Tech Crunch and VC news site VentureBeat. VentureBeat reported that the $60 million investment came at a $500 million pre-money valuation.—Alexander Haislip and Lawrence AragonDEALWATCH: Five investments by Marc Andreessen

Blekko_Online search

CrowdFusion_Online publishing

Digg_Online news site

kaChing_Social investing site

Twitter_Microblogging service

Note: Investments made from October 2005 and December 2008. Sources: TechCrunch