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Marc Andreessen Joins the Dialpad Executive Board

November 04, 2016
By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

For anyone who thought that Dialpad might have been suffering from a shortage of talent at the top of the executive food chain, the most recent development out of the company may well change that perception for good. Dialpad brought in no less than Marc Andreessen to serve on its board, and the man who gave us what amounts to the first competing Web browser to Microsoft (News - Alert)'s own is now backing up Dialpad's future.

Coauthor of Mosaic, cofounder of Netscape, and partner with Andreessen Horowitz, a massive venture capital fund, there's no doubt that Andreessen has the skills and experience to be a fundamental part of virtually any company's executive board.

Interestingly, though he's been focused on a “software is eating the world” model for quite some time, not everything he's been involved in has been directed that way. For instance, as part of Hewlett-Packard (News - Alert) Enterprise (HPE), he oversaw the company's move away from software, and the company has not only dumped much of its software assets, but also lost most of the staff involved in software development.

So what's Andreessen doing at Dialpad? Dialpad is eager to convert the communications industry into a software-heavy, or potentially software-only, proposition, and Andreessen Horowitz has been seen heavily investing in Dialpad. While Dialpad is hardly the first firm to focus on such an outcome, it has been downright aggressive in pursuing it. Andreessen getting personally involved, however, is a note that means something a lot more.

It's a safe bet that Andreessen believes that Dialpad will ultimately become the new standard of software-based communications, which is why he's not only putting cash behind it, but also time. That last may be an even greater statement of support than the first; Andreessen likely gets offers enough to join company boards to last him for a 168-hour day, let alone a week. Throw in Andreessen's own statement about the company—“Dialpad will kill the desk phone and give enterprises the communications tools they need to survive and thrive”—and it's obvious that Andreessen has a clear interest in making this company the great force to be reckoned with in the market. Of course, this isn't the first time a projection like this has been made. Anyone remember the “paperless office”? Telecommuting was supposed to be universal 10 years ago, not the grab bag of doctrines it is now. Software replacing hardware is a great idea, but one that may be too great for companies to get behind.

The idea that all communications could be software based is a big one, but a big one that's only a little bit outlandish. It would require a lot of changes in attitude, as well as corporate culture, but with such changes might come one big new change, featuring software instead of hardware. With Andreessen involved, meanwhile, this could be the start of something amazing.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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