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Netscape founder hunts next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs

$50m for a big idea and a great leader

An icon of the dot-com boom is seeking the next big thing in technology, along with the next great leader.

Marc Andreessen, who co-founded in Netscape 1994, is teaming up with Hewlett-Packard vice president Ben Horowitz, a former Netscape manager, to launch Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm.

The pair will invest $50,000 to $50 million per tech company, Andreessen wrote in a blog post.

The firm isn't just looking for a good idea. Andreessen Horowitz will give preference to founders who intend to run their companies, bringing to mind icons such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

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"We are hugely in favour of the founder who intends to be CEO," Andreessen wrote. "Not all founders can become great CEOs, but most of the great companies in our industry were run by a founder for a long period of time, often decades, and we believe that pattern will continue."

Andreessen added that the firm will help founders develop the skills to lead a company.

Can venture capital unearth tomorrow's great technology product and CEO? Famously, Microsoft struck gold by buying the technology behind DOS and licensing it to IBM.

Apple, on the other hand, received financial backing and expertise from a former Intel marketing manager named A.C. "Mike" Markkula, on the strength of the company's Apple I computer.

Though Markkula was an angel investor rather than a venture capitalist, Apple's story seems more in line with what Andreessen Horowitz is looking for.

Obviously, the tech world isn't what it was in the 1970s and 1980s, but Andreessen isn't a product of that era. He's one of the success stories from the dot-com boom and bust, which was filled with poor venture capital investments. The technology industry is in may be flailing now as it was then, so it'll be interesting to watch Andreessen's new venture.

Andreessen noted that the product should be central to any company. The firm is looking in a wide range of areas, from internet services and mobile devices to back-end applications such as storage and database. However, Andreessen and Horowitz will stay away from green technology and life sciences along with more exotic ideas, such as "space elevators."

"We do not have the first clue about any of these fields," he wrote.

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