Top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz invested a whopping $49 million in Jawbone, a maker of high-end headsets for smartphones, AllThingsD says.
On its face, this seems odd: why would a VC firm best known for bets on social media and software invest in a gadget maker?
But we remember an old video of Marc Andreessen, who was an angel investor in Jawbone, back when he’d just started Andreessen Horowitz. He mentioned Jawbone as a company worth investing in, because it’s in a usually under-appreciated sector, and has huge potential. Why?
According to Andreessen, Jawbone’s headsets are a first step to “wearable computers.”
Jawbone themselves describe themselves as mostly a software company now. Venture capitalists are afraid of companies that make hardware because they traditionally require high capital expenditures, but manufacturing can be cheaply outsourced to China; even more importantly, Andreessen said, we’re moving to an era where most of the value in gadgets is in the software, not the hardware.
Today smartphones are really full purpose computers we keep in our pockets. Apple calls the smartphone and tablet era the “post-PC era”, but perhaps a better name would be the “truly personal computing era”: we have these computers we hold closely and that are truly personal. “Wearable” computers might be the next step, and Jawbone is a bet on that possibility.