Andreessen-Horowitz adds Ken Coleman to its stable

For a forward-thinking venture firm, Andreessen-Horowitz has shown a knack for reaching into Silicon Valley’s past. When the firm in 2011 backed a new startup led by BEA co-founder Alfred Chuang, Ben Horowitz in a blog called Chuang “the greatest CEO of my time.” Now Horowitz has tapped another stalwart from the dot-com era: Ken Coleman, long a top exec at Silicon Graphics.

Coleman becomes the third “special advisor” at Andreessen Horowitz, joining former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and ex-Washington, D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty. The ever-growing firm, in addition to its seven general partners, has also added seasoned tech execs in other part-time roles. The idea is to provide a veteran hand who can guide young CEOs through the startup shoals.

Coleman also is among what’s sadly still a relative handful of African Americans who’ve reached Silicon Valley’s upper echelons. And he’s never been shy about paying it forward; Horowitz writes in his blog about how Coleman would routinely give him access when Horowitz was just a young nobody. Likewise, when I first moved to the valley in ’98 and was toiling for a small weekly, Coleman was one of the first big-name tech execs who talked to me.

Neither Horowitz nor I is black, of course (though Ben could probably challenge Chuck D on hip-hop knowledge).  Still, I think Coleman’s blindness to both color and station are part of what makes him one of the valley’s good guys.




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