Kara Swisher

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Former Windows Head Sinofsky Joins Andreessen Horowitz as Board Partner

Steven Sinofsky, the high-profile Microsoft exec who most recently led its flagship Windows efforts, will be joining Andreessen Horowitz as a board partner.

The tech exec — who has been an entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School and also a very active blogger since he left the software giant last November — has actually been hanging around at the well-known venture firm since the beginning of the year, helping advise partners on various issues.

But now it’s official.

I had been querying Andreessen Horowitz about Sinofsky’s role for a while, after seeing him pop up increasingly at Silicon Valley events, and hearing about him kibitzing with a variety of entrepreneurs.

The relentlessly curious exec — known at Microsoft for his aggressive management style and famous for his intellectually rich internal memos — is likely to be a good fit for the tech scene here. Already well known in the industry, Sinofsky has been making a lot of connections around tech since he left his job, having been one of the less isolated top execs from Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft.

At the firm, Sinofsky will have an unusual role, as board partner.

As he wrote in a blog post, “Board partners are unique at a16z. In this position I will represent the firm on the boards of portfolio companies when the opportunities present themselves, but will not be a full-time member of the firm.”

“I have experience in building large organizations obviously and think I have a lot to offer entrepreneurs in helping them build their businesses from scratch,” said Sinofsky in an interview about the move.

Sinofsky said he was thrilled to be working in Silicon Valley. “I have been fortunate to have managed a lot of teams down here when I was at Microsoft, but becoming even more outwardly focused is an important part of my own growth,” he said. “So it is a transition to a whole different world down here, and it has been eye-opening to see how much energy there is.”

Sinofsky said that his initial focus will be on areas like productivity software, which is “near and dear to my heart,” but that he is open to other tech sectors. He added that he did not seek out a full partner status as yet, as, “I did not want to dive in without experience, and wanted to make sure I start at an appropriate place.”

Sinofsky will continue as an EIR at Harvard, and will keep on writing at his blog, called — appropriately, given his massive job at Microsoft — “Learning by Shipping.”

In a post this week, titled “Continuous Productivity: New tools and a new way of working for a new era,” you can see Sinofsky’s big-thinkery in action, as well as in the video of an interview he did with Walt Mossberg and me at the D: All Things Digital conference this year, which is below:

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google