My name is Scott Weiss and I’m a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Here’s my story:
I grew up in the beach town of Sarasota, Florida, working at my uncle’s furniture store, Kanes. I started as the janitor’s helper in seventh grade and steadily got promoted to carryout boy, display setter-upper, warehouse crew, delivery crew and then finally to the scratch and dent salesperson.
After graduating from the University of Florida with a finance degree, I moved to Texas to start a management development program with Electronic Data Systems (EDS). In my five “Office Space” years there, I learned: how to code in COBOL; the basics of developing people; and what I loved and hated about my seven different bosses. I guess I really grew up in business at EDS, for better or worse.
In 1993 I left to begin Harvard Business School and spent a summer and a year producing charts at McKinsey. While in Boston, I froze my ass off, met a bunch of brilliant people, learned to snowboard and definitively decided that I was ill suited for large companies.
I transferred out to Palo Alto in 1996 and began meeting with startups… After interviewing with Women’s Wire, Planet Out, Pointcast, Excite, Greet Street and many other early Internet pioneers, I became employee #13 at Hotmail, the free web-based email service. Over 18 months, Hotmail grew exponentially to 180 employees and 100 million users before we sold it to Microsoft in late 1997. From that point on, I had found my calling and was totally hooked on the Silicon Valley startup life!
That said, the next few years didn’t go very well. I started—with my Hotmail money as seed capital—an ecommerce company right before the 1999 ecommerce nuclear winter. I shut it down. I then joined Idealab as a managing director in 2000 and helped to shut down or sell consumer companies such as Elease, Evoice and Scout Electromedia among others. These were my “eating vegetables” years—probably great learning but they didn’t taste good on the way down… I became disenchanted with consumer businesses and wanted to build something hard and real and “infrastructure-y”.
In late 2001, Scott Banister and I co-founded IronPort Systems. What started out as just the two of us grew into a 450-employee, $200 million run-rate enterprise security company over the course of six years. We sold to Cisco in 2007. About six months after the acquisition, I was promoted to GM, Security and took over most of Cisco’s security business including the ASA/PIX firewalls, IPS/IDS, SIEM and the IronPort product lines. After a few years, I started to consider other opportunities…
For a variety of reasons, I had scratched venture capital off the list until I met with Ben, Marc and John and heard their vision for growing a firm that “we would want to raise money from”. I joined them as the fourth partner in April 2011.
I am excited to be blogging about my potholes, screw-ups, experiments and real stories that are hopefully relevant to other aspiring entrepreneurs.