Kara Swisher

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Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty Joins Andreessen Horowitz as “Special Advisor”

In its second acquisition of a well-known political figure, Andreessen Horowitz has brought in former District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty as a part-time “Special Advisor.”

The appointment comes after the high-profile Silicon Valley venture firm added former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers last year in the same capacity.

Fenty — who lost his job as mayor after only one term, in part due to blistering opposition to major education reform he pushed for in Washington’s troubled public schools — will focus on helping Andreessen Horowitz make investments in the online education arena, as well as advising on city-related issues.

In an interview, Fenty said that, since he left office last year, he had become increasingly interested in tech and entrepreneurs.

“I’ve been migrating more and more to the area and was impressed with the great work Andreessen Horowitz was doing,” he said. “I got the bug in me.”

Fenty added that he thinks of himself as a disruptor in politics, which is why he has been attracted to start-ups.

“It is fun for me to do on the business side what I was doing on the political side,” he said. “There is an education disruption volcano that is really just starting to circulate.”


Here’s the Andreessen Horowitz blog post on the Fenty appointment:

Former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty Joins Andreessen Horowitz as Special Advisor

This is a guest post by Margit Wennmachers, partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

Today we broaden our firm’s expertise with the appointment of our second special advisor, Adrian Fenty. Adrian is best known as the iconic former mayor of Washington, D.C., who threw out entrenched rulebooks to reform the public school system with unheard-of success.

Adrian joins renowned economist Larry Summers in his advisory role at the firm. (http://bhorowitz.com/2011/06/29/meet-our-new-special-advisor-larry-summers/)

What does Adrian bring to the table?

To answer this question, it’s helpful to understand more about his tenure as mayor in D.C. On his very first day in office, at a time when D.C. test scores and graduation rates were among the lowest in the country, he introduced legislation to vest mayoral control of public schools. Through efficiencies and a spotlight on accountability, student achievement rose 14 points in reading and 17 points in math since 2007, unprecedented gains in D.C. history and unparalleled nationwide. Not to mention that SAT scores rose 27 points, graduation rates rose each year, and 72 percent of District students took the PSAT. Measurable results in record time.

Adrian did all this in the face of tough opposition from about every corner in the system. He also did it at a great cost; he was voted out of office in the following election. Long-term gains that necessitate tough decisions are often obscured by unpopular short-term pain. In the fullness of time, Adrian will be on the right side of the issue; the results are evident. We admire someone with the courage and the stomach to take on the status quo, in particular on a topic as fundamental as the education system in this country.

His education chops are only a small part of what Adrian brings to the firm. He will advise us and our entrepreneurs about the ins-and-outs of navigating state, local and federal government. He’s uniquely qualified to help companies understand everything from striking effective city partnerships to navigating regulatory issues. With more technology companies disrupting traditional businesses, they will benefit from leaning on someone who’s well-versed in how local governments operate.

Adrian’s bold, he’s progressive, he’s tech savvy, and he’s a disruptor with a track record to prove it. He’s already hit the ground running with our CEOs. We’re excited to see the kind of impact this reformer will have on our portfolio.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus