Blog Post

Larry Summers to join VC firm Andreessen Horowitz

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is joining Andreessen Horowitz as a part-time special advisor, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm announced this afternoon.

One of the nation’s most respected policymakers, Summer will both advise the firm and work directly with its portfolio companies — from Foursquare to Rockmelt -— as they seek to restructure existing markets and expand globally.

“Companies today tend to want to operate globally, much more so than 10 or 15 years ago in both the developed and developing world,” said firm co-founder Marc Andreessen.”We are fortunate enough to be working with companies that are seeking to transform individual markets here and abroad in telecommunications, advertising, entertainment, real estate  and health care. And Larry’s deep insight into global economics and geopolitics will be highly useful.”

Summers was director of the National Economic Council under President Obama, and before that, president of Harvard University and President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary. This is the second high-profile Silicon Valley job Summer has taken on since saying goodbye to Washington D.C. in late 2010. Just last week, Summers announced he’d joined the board of directors at mobile payment company Square, which just today received a $100 million boost.

So why  is he doing this, exactly?

For Summers, it’s all about being where the action is. “Anybody who studies the American economy when the history of our times written, technology and what’s going on here right now its going to be the major story,” he said. But Summers isn’t trading in his New England tweed for Silicon Valley hoodies; he’ll stay Boston-based. Though, ” judging by all the emails I’ve been getting from Marc every night before bed, I feel virtually present,” in the Silicon Valley, he said.

Speaking with Summers over the phone this afternoon, I couldn’t help but ask the economist to weigh in on all the bubble talk in social media. Ever the politician, he started by expressing total confidence with his new employer’s “financial prudence” in all  investments. As for the industry as a whole, he was a bit non-committal, but erred on the side of “no bubble.”

“Some of the statements that are made conjuring up images of the late 1990s rather misleading,” he said. Most importantly, the scale, intensity and magnitude of Internet connection had changed so much since the days of, he said. “I’m surprised when people treat it as an obvious judgment of bubbles in what’s present today,” he said. “But I’ve seen too much to ever preclude possibilities.”

After all, the four most dangerous words in venture capital, he says are: “It’s different this time.”

One Response to “Larry Summers to join VC firm Andreessen Horowitz”

  1. The current incarnation of the dot-com madness will be no different and will produce real companies which will be successful long after the bubble has burst. Square will be among them. Unlike LinkedIn and Skype, Square shows you exactly how it will make real money. We’ve done the numbers on how profitable Square is and our estimate showed that for every $1 million processed, Square gets about $13,000 – $14,000 in revenues, but that was before the start-up dropped the per-transaction fee from its discount rate, which will reduce this total by at least a couple of thousand dollars. Still, Square probably gets about a cent for every dollar it processes.