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."

Fintech

Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

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.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep Reading Show less
FTA
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.
Enterprise

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep Reading Show less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.

Enterprise

Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep Reading Show less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories
Bulletins