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Andreessen says yes to another start-up

The Netscape co-founder will become a director of Octopus.com, one of several dot-coms he's joined since America Online purchased Netscape.

Netscape Communications co-founder Marc Andreessen is joining Web start-up Octopus.com as a member of its board of directors, CNET News.com has learned.

Octopus is riding a wave of personalized Web services, from calendar offerings on Yahoo's My Yahoo to one-stop financial services. It hopes to go much further, however, allowing people to create customized "views" of the Web that pull data from various sources into a single display screen--in effect replacing surfing as the primary way of gathering information online.

Andreessen cited Octopus' personalization features as a key factor behind his interest in the company.

"The Web is one of those things that locked down almost too quickly," he said, adding that he believes Octopus.com offers a way to provide a more sophisticated interface. "People are still just getting raw data. Octopus provides a layer of intelligence on top of that."

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Octopus is one of a handful of boards Andreessen has joined since he left America Online.

In March, he joined the board of Collab.Net, a site for uniting corporations with open-source programmers. He also is a member of the boards of CacheFlow, which builds special servers to speed Internet data transfer; MobShop, which lets consumers band together to obtain lower prices on what they're buying; and Loudcloud, his own start-up, which helps companies set up complex Web sites quickly.

Although he is an investor in ReplayTV, he resigned from its board because of conflict-of-interest issues when AOL acquired Netscape.

Andreessen said his board choices highlight his desire to work with companies that have "fundamentally transforming" technology, strong management teams and top-tier venture capital connections.

Heading Octopus is chief executive Steve Douty, a former Hotmail executive who also headed Microsoft's MSN media programming and network productions. Octopus co-founders Craig Jorasch and Tom McGannon previously co-founded Metropolis Software, a maker of enterprise applications for sales force automation, which was acquired by Clarify.

Octopus is backed by VC firm Redpoint Ventures; it received $11.4 million in a first round of financing in December. Its software is still in the test, or beta, stage.