People

Ex-Intel CEO Bob Swan joins a16z as new growth partner

He'll be helping portfolio companies achieve scale.

Bob Swan as CEO of Intel in 2019.

Bob Swan will be an operating partner at a16z.

Photo: Intel 2019

After a storied career running megacompanies from eBay to Intel — even Webvan — Bob Swan is joining Andreessen Horowitz's growth fund to help its portfolio companies achieve the same scale.

"There's more and more capital being put to work by more and more players, therefore I think success is going beyond making the right investments but also having the approach of helping the entrepreneurs build," Swan said.

The market in growth funds is also one of the most competitive spots in venture capital right now. Both Tiger Global and SoftBank are deploying large checks into startups, and using their ability to hold onto stocks into the public markets as their own edge to win out deals. The two have been the largest funders of startups in the first half of 2021.

Still, Andreessen Horowitz has remained competitive, investing in startups like Stripe, Waymo, TripActions, Plaid and Clubhouse. Its growth fund sits atop its other sector funds, like biotech and crypto, and is charged with investing in later-stage companies to help them scale to a level where they would go public. Unlike Tiger, which is "proudly passive" as a firm, Andreessen Horowitz's growth team sees its role as matchmaking its operating partner with startups to help them grow and scale, said David George, the growth fund's lead.

That's where Swan sees himself helping a16z differentiate itself from the crowded late-stage market. His experience is likely to be one highly sought after by startups. He started his career spending 14 years leading finance at GE, then was eBay's CFO for nine. He joined Intel as its CFO in 2016 before he was promoted to CEO in 2019, taking the reins from Brian Krzanich who stepped down after details of a workplace affair emerged.

Swan's tenure at Intel was marked by manufacturing woes and other challenges for the chipmaker, much of which he inherited from his predecessor. It ceded the No. 1 spot in the market to NVIDIA, and saw $60 billion of its market cap disappear in 2020 amid a broad tech rally. Swan ended up stepping down in 2021, but even while at Intel he wasn't far from the venture world. Swan said he worked closely during his tenure with Intel Capital, the 30-year-old corporate venture arm that said it invested over $735 million in startups in 2020.

"Spending time on the innovation and the technology in the semi space was a key aspect of staying in touch in so many ways," he said.

Swan was also CEO of Webvan, the grocery-delivery firm that became a poster child for the dot-com boom and bust. He joined the company in 1999 as a vice president, before becoming CFO and COO. He was promoted to CEO for a short stint — just four months before the company went under, sunk by the cost of its expensive warehouses.

Swan laughs about it now, 20 years later, but he's hoping that experience will help him guide other startups through highs and lows.

"Through that experience as well as a series of others, what I'm able to bring to the party with David and the team is rich experiences of getting it right and sometimes not," Swan said. "With scar tissue comes great learnings."

Workplace

An IPO may soon be in Notion’s future

Notion COO Akshay Kothari says there’s room to grow, aided by a new CFO who knows how to take a company public.

Notion has hired its first chief financial officer: Rama Katkar.

Photo: Courtesy of Notion

It’s been a year since Notion’s triumphant $275 million funding round and $10 billion valuation. Since then the landscape for productivity startups trying to make it on their own has completely changed, especially for those pandemic darlings that flourished in the all-remote world.

As recession looms, companies looking to cut costs are less likely to spend money on tools outside of their Microsoft or Google workplace bundles. Enterprise platforms are bulking up and it could spell trouble for the productivity startups trying to unseat them. But Notion COO Akshay Kothari says the company is still aiming to build the next Microsoft, not be the next Microsoft. And in a move signaling a new chapter of maturity, Notion has hired its first chief financial officer: Rama Katkar, Instacart’s former VP of finance.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Securing the Enterprise

Securing the enterprise

There’s no let-up in the surge of cyberattacks against businesses. But shutting down the hackers will require many enterprises to evolve their strategy.

In today’s enterprise, “identity and security are very merged.”

Illustration: iStock/Getty Images Plus; Protocol
the Protocol team
Protocol focuses on the people, power and politics of tech, with no agenda and just one goal: to arm decision-makers in tech, business and public policy with the unbiased, fact-based news and analysis they need to navigate a world in rapid change.
Fintech

How neobanks are helping consumers game credit scoring

The CFPB says it is closely monitoring secured credit cards offered by neobanks.

Regulators are scrutinizing neobanks' card offerings.

Photo: Oscar Wong/Moment/Getty Images

About one in six Americans has a credit score below 619, according to the CFPB. Another 23% have too thin a credit file to score or no file at all. That puts them in a credit trap: To build credit, these consumers need someone to give them a line of credit with which they can demonstrate good financial habits. But with scores that low, few lenders are prepared to offer them anything.

Neobanks say they can solve the problem through a new twist on secured credit cards. But regulators are already scrutinizing their offerings.

Keep Reading Show less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

Policy

Steel decided World War II. Chips will decide whatever is next.

“Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology” foreshadows the coming battle between nations over semiconductors.

“Chip War” outlines the nature of the coming battle over semiconductors, showing how the power to produce leading-edge chips fell into the hands of just five companies.

Image: Scribner; Protocol

“World War II was decided by steel and aluminum, and followed shortly thereafter by the Cold War, which was defined by atomic weapons,” Chris Miller, a professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, writes in the introduction to his latest book. So what’s next? According to Miller, the next era, including the rivalry between the U.S. and China, is all about computing power.

That tech rivalry and the story of how the chip industry got from four to 11.8 billion transistors are all part of Miller’s book, “Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology,” which comes out Oct. 4. “Chip War” outlines the nature of the coming battle over semiconductors, showing how the power to produce leading-edge chips fell into the hands of just five companies: three from the U.S., one from Japan, and one from the Netherlands.

Keep Reading Show less
Hirsh Chitkara

Hirsh Chitkara ( @HirshChitkara) is a reporter at Protocol focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. Before joining Protocol, he helped write a daily newsletter at Insider that covered all things Big Tech. He's based in New York and can be reached at hchitkara@protocol.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins