CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

Andreessen's latest venture: Web services start-up

The Internet visionary and founder of Netscape Communications has cofounded Loudcloud, a firm that aims to help companies launch sophisticated Web operations more quickly.

Marc Andreessen, the Internet visionary and founder of Netscape Communications, has cofounded Loudcloud, a firm that aims to help companies launch sophisticated Web operations more quickly.

Andreessen said in a conference call that Loudcloud will offer a combination of software and operations expertise to create shortcuts for companies to ramp up sites as they grow exponentially more complex.

"Most large-scale [Web companies] operate very complex multitiered services, with as many as seven or eight servers in several locations," Andreessen said. "Packaged software doesn't address that. Companies have to build [these sophisticated sites] from top to bottom; they're [constantly] reinventing the wheel…We see a huge opportunity here."

Andreessen supplied few details but clarified that the company will not be a venture capital fund, nor will it offer consulting services. He said further announcements will come in the new year.

The company was founded in September, just weeks after Andreessen left America Online, where he'd served as chief technology officer since February. He said today that Loudcloud is his "full-time passion," although he will continue working with AOL in an advisory capacity.

So far, Loudcloud has assembled a managerial and technical team comprising former executives from Netscape, Frontier GlobalCenter, Epiphany, Morgan Stanley, Infoseek, Cisco, and others. Andreessen will serve as chairman of the board of directors.

The other cofounders are Ben Horowitz, a Netscape alumnus, who will serve as chief executive officer; Tim Howes, coinventor of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), who will be chief technology officer; and In Sik Rhee, vice president of operational architecture, who cofounded Kiva software.

The company is being financed with undisclosed initial investments from the cofounders.

Horowitz said the company has hired about 20 employees so far and plans to add more, although he gave no details about how large he expects the company to grow.

Several other executive positions also were announced today.

Jonathan Heiliger, formerly of Frontier Global, is vice president of operations. Scott Dunlap, who joined the company after a stint with Epiphany, is director of products. Netscape and AOL alumnus Jason Rosenthal is director of marketing and business development. And former Morgan Stanley investment banker Matthew Hein is business development manager.

Andreessen did not rule out the possibility of investing in other companies, but he said Loudcloud will be his primary focus.

In July, Andreessen invested an undisclosed amount in e-commerce firm Accompany. And last year he took a stake in Replay Networks, which is developing digital television recording systems that it hopes will replace today's traditional home videocassette recorders.

Netscape spawns next-generation execs
With the new business, Andreessen joins a legion of former Netscape cofounders and employees to start new ventures after leaving the Web pioneer in the wake of last year's $4.2 billion buyout by AOL.

Netscape cofounder Jim Clark has launched three companies focusing on a range of Internet businesses, most famously Healtheon, which hopes to simplify medical-related document processing using the Internet. He is also the principal shareholder in MyCFO.com, a money-management site aimed at wealthy clients. And last week, he announced the creation of Shutterfly, which targets the consumer film processing market.

Former Netscape CEO James Barksdale and two other former Netscape executives have created an investment firm focusing on Internet start-ups. Joining him in the venture are Peter Currie, former chief administrative officer, and Quincy Smith, former investor relations and new business development manager.

The Barksdale Group has investments in HomeGrocer, a Seattle Internet grocery delivery service, and Tellme.com, which is creating technology that consumers will be able to use with their telephones.

Ramanathan Guha, principal engineer at Netscape, is cofounder of Epinions.com. The company plans to create research portals by collecting links to product information resources on the Web.