Kara Swisher

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Andreessen Horowitz’s First GP — John O’Farrell — Moves Out of Investing and Into Advisory Role

John O’Farrell, whom Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz tapped as their first general partner at the high-profile Silicon Valley venture firm in 2010, is stepping away from an investing role.

Instead, he said in an interview earlier today, he will be advising eight of the companies he has invested in over the last three years and also helping other startups at Andreessen Horowitz on a range of issues.

“I don’t want to be a venture investor any longer, so I am shifting away from that,” said O’Farrell, noting he would remain to advise companies in the firm’s portfolio on issues such as scaling, M&A and international expansion. “But I am not worried about not being busy.”

O’Farrell also noted that another reason for the change was that he has an interest in growth investing and the firm had shifted over the years to focus more on seed and early-stage investments and had also moved to hiring founder/CEOs as GPs.

“It’s an enormously competitive area and Andreessen Horowitz has an advantage, so it makes sense to move there,” he said, although some of its investments in later-stage companies like Facebook and Twitter had worked well.

Despite moving away from making new investments, O’Farrell said he was glad there still was a role for him. “In other firms, you are an investor or you are not with the firm, but this is an unusual place,” he said.

The Irish-born O’Farrell had worked closely with Andreessen and Horowitz in the past as an Opsware executive. He also has had an interesting background in the cable business, as well as at Silver Spring Networks, a smart-grid startup.

“This is an evolution of John’s role and how we use him,” said Horowitz about the VC-no-longer shift. “We’re in a place as a firm that we can make changes like this.”

With O’Farrell moving away from investing, Andreessen Horowitz now has seven general partners, as well as many more operating partners, rendering all kinds of services to its portfolio companies. Founded in 2009, it currently has 80 employees overall.

Here’s a video interview I did with O’Farrell when he first arrived at the firm:

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