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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."

Protocol | Fintech

Amazon wants a crypto play. Its history in payments is not encouraging.

It missed chances to be PayPal, Square and Stripe — so is this its chance to miss being Coinbase, too?

Amazon wants to be a crypto player.

Image: NurPhoto/Getty Images

The news that Amazon was hiring a lead for a new digital currency and blockchain initiative sent the price of bitcoin soaring. But there's another way to look at the news that's less bullish on bitcoin and bearish on Amazon: 13 years after Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper appeared on the internet, Amazon is just discovering cryptocurrency?

That may be a bit unkind, but the truth is sometimes unkind. And the reality is that Amazon has a long history of stumbles and missed opportunities in payments, which goes back more than two decades to the company's purchase of internet payments startup Accept.com.

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Owen Thomas

Owen Thomas is a senior editor at Protocol overseeing venture capital and financial technology coverage. He was previously business editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and before that editor-in-chief at ReadWrite, a technology news site. You're probably going to remind him that he was managing editor at Valleywag, Gawker Media's Silicon Valley gossip rag. He lives in San Francisco with his husband and Ramona the Love Terrier, whom you should follow on Instagram.

Over the last year, financial institutions have experienced unprecedented demand from their customers for exposure to cryptocurrency, and we've seen an inflow of institutional dollars driving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to record prices. Some banks have already launched cryptocurrency programs, but many more are evaluating the market.

That's why we've created the Crypto Maturity Model: an iterative roadmap for cryptocurrency product rollout, enabling financial institutions to evaluate market opportunities while addressing compliance requirements.

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Caitlin Barnett, Chainanalysis
Caitlin’s legal and compliance experience encompasses both cryptocurrency and traditional finance. As Director of Regulation and Compliance at Chainalysis, she helps leading financial institutions strategize and build compliance programs in order to adopt cryptocurrencies and offer new products to their customers. In addition, Caitlin helps facilitate dialogue with regulators and the industry on key policy issues within the cryptocurrency industry.
Protocol | Enterprise

How Google Cloud plans to kill its ‘Killed By Google’ reputation

Under the new Google Enterprise APIs policy, the company is making a promise that its services will remain available and stable far into the future.

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian has promised to make the company more customer-friendly.

Photo: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images 2019

Google Cloud issued a promise Monday to current and potential customers that it's safe to build a business around its core technologies, another step in its transformation from an engineering playground to a true enterprise tech vendor.

Starting Monday, Google will designate a subset of APIs across the company as Google Enterprise APIs, including APIs from Google Cloud, Google Workspace and Google Maps. APIs selected for this category — which will include "a majority" of Google Cloud APIs according to Kripa Krishnan, vice president at Google Cloud — will be subject to strict guidelines regarding any changes that could affect customer software built around those APIs.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is Protocol's enterprise editor, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire, and served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure.

Amazon job opening points to plan to accept crypto payments

The news sparked a rally in the values of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Amazon may be planning to let customers pay for orders with cryptocurrencies.

Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Amazon is looking to hire a digital currency and blockchain expert suggesting a plan to let customers accept cryptocurrencies as payments.

The tech giant's job opening says Amazon is looking for "an experienced product leader" to help develop the company's "digital currency and blockchain strategy and roadmap" Amazon is looking for product leader with expertise in blockchain, distributed ledger, central bank digital currencies and cryptocurrency.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

Protocol | Policy

Big Tech tried to redefine terrorism online. It got messy fast.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism announced a series of narrow steps it's taking that underscore just how fraught the job of classifying terror online really is.

Erin Saltman is GIFCT's director of programming.

Photo: Paul Morigi/Flickr

A little over a month after the Jan. 6 riot, the tech industry's leading anti-terrorism alliance — a group founded by Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter — announced it was seeking ideas for how it could expand its definition of terrorism, which had for years been more or less synonymous with Islamic terrorism. The group, called the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism or GIFCT, had been considering such a shift for at least a year, but the rising threat of domestic extremism, punctuated by the Capitol uprising, made it all the more clear something needed to change.

But after months of interviewing member companies, months of considering academic proposals and months spent mulling the impact of tech platforms on this and other violent events around the world, the group's policies have barely budged. On Monday, in a 177-page report, GIFCT released the first details of its plan, and, well, a radical rethinking of online extremism it is not. Instead, the report lays out a series of narrow steps that underscore just how fraught the job of classifying terror online really is.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

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