Photo: All Things D
Marc Andreessen has been personally invested in Facebook from almost the very beginning.But the venture capital firm he cofounded with Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz, only invested much later at very high valuation.
Yesterday, during a Q&A session with reporters, Andreessen told the story of how that deal came together.
Andreessen said “what tipped his partners over the edge” was a visit from a “senior technical officer from a US intelligence agency.”
During her visit at AH, this officer asked Andreessen what the big news in the Valley was.
He said, “Let me tell you about Facebook.”
She said, “Oh, I know all about it. We advertise on it a lot.”
Obviously this disclosure threw Andreessen for a loop.
Why was an intelligence agency advertising on Facebook?
It turned out the officer had a personal project on the side. She ran a dinner theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, that specialised in classic musicals like “Guys And Dolls.”
The theatre had always had trouble recruiting people to perform in its shows—until Facebook.
“We’ve never had a way to target people who are 50+ in Bethesda who are fans of Frank Sinatra,” Andreessen says this officer told him.
Andreessen’s partner, Ben Horowitz, heard the story and told Andreessen that if a US intelligence officer figures Facebook is the best way to target such a tiny demographic with ads, then “we have got to invest in this company.”