Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a venture capital firm launched in 2009, has quickly broken into the VC industry's top ranks, in terms of its ability to invest in Silicon Valley's most promising startups. The case recounts the firm's history; describes its co-founders' motivations and their strategy for disrupting an industry in the midst of dramatic structural change; and asks whether a16z's success to date has been due to its novel organization structure. a16z's 22 investment professionals are supported by 43 recruiting and marketing specialists-an "operating team" that is an order of magnitude larger than that of any other VC firm. Furthermore, the operating team aims to not only assist a16z portfolio companies, but also to be broadly helpful to all parties in the Silicon Valley ecosystem, including search firms, journalists, PR agencies, and Fortune 500 executives. The bet: by providing "no-strings-attached" help to ecosystem partners, the partners might someday reciprocate by steering founders seeking funding to a16z. The case closes by asking whether a16z should seek to double its scale over the next years.
1) Evaluate business model design decisions made by entrepreneurs seeking to disrupt a mature industry that is undergoing structural change;
2) gain understanding of how venture capital firms add value and how that is changing; and
3) illustrate entrepreneurship in a professional services context.
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