Former Windows Chief Sinofsky Joins VC Firm Andreessen Horowitz


Steven Sinofsky, the former head of Microsoft's Windows division who left last November, is joining venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, also known as "a16z," as a board partner.

In a Thursday blog post announcing his new role, Sinofsky acknowledged being "relatively new" to the venture capital scene but said he's learned much since first meeting Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, the firm's co-founders, late last year.

Sinofsky made it clear that he's not pursuing a new career in venture capital, however.

[Related: Microsoft Opens Office 365 Licensing Program To Partners That Sell To Enterprises]

"Board partners are unique at a16z. In this position I will represent the firm on the boards of portfolio companies when the opportunities present themselves, but will not be a full-time member of the firm," Sinofsky said in the blog post.

Sinofsky said he was drawn to Andreessen Horowitz because of the firm's commitment to companies and products with a long-term, team-oriented focus. He'll be focusing initially on productivity software but is open to other technology sectors, he told AllThingsD, which was first to report on his new role.

Sinofsky said he'll continue his role as an "executive in residence" at Harvard Business School, where he began teaching earlier this year. He'll also "continue to pursue other business and product development opportunities that arise," he said in the blog post.

When Sinofsky left after 23 years with Microsoft, he signed a non-compete that prevents him from working at Amazon, Apple, EMC, Facebook, Google, Oracle or VMware until 2014.

In its 10-K last month, Microsoft said it awarded Sinofsky 418,361 shares, worth some $14.2 million at the time, in return for complying with the terms of what it described as a "retirement" agreement.

Sinofsky was one of Microsoft's true rock stars. He is credited with reviving the Windows business after the Vista debacle and got the unit hitting on all cylinders again with Windows 7.

But, Sinofsky also instilled a culture of secrecy that made it difficult for Microsoft partners to get information about Windows 8, sources have previously told CRN. For example, at last year's Build conference, Microsoft's field evangelists weren't allowed to talk to attendees about Windows 8, a source told CRN at the time.

PUBLISHED AUG. 22, 2013