Most people know Andy Rubin as the creator of Android. I know Andy as a twenty-something engineer at WebTV who had built a sleeping loft above his cubicle so he didn’t have to leave the office. 20 years, 3 successful startups, and 2 billion Android devices later, Andy is joining Redpoint as a Venture Partner.
WebTV was one of the first companies I ever backed as a venture investor. It had one of the most impressive groups of technical founders with whom I have ever worked, and Andy was one of the first engineers they hired. I noticed Andy was exceptional right away, not only because of his loft, but because he possessed an uncommon combination of technical skill and vision. He developed the first platform that connected the web to people’s televisions. WebTV grew rapidly and ultimately sold to Microsoft for $500 million.
When Andy left Microsoft and co-founded the smartphone pioneer Danger, Redpoint was early to invest. As CEO, Andy built Danger from nothing into the must-have tech gadget of its time with over 2 million devices, and fans like Paris Hilton and Snoop Dogg. Danger invented and deployed many of the core smartphone services we use today. Among Danger’s technical firsts were integrated messaging, mobile video, over-the-air OS updating, and the app store. Soon after Danger achieved scale, Andy left and joined Redpoint as an Entrepreneur in Residence. He was a colleague to Satish Dharmaraj who was incubating Zimbra in our offices and later, also joined us a Partner.
It was in Redpoint’s offices that Andy first conceived Android. Ten years later, Android has become one of the most widely adopted technologies in the world, an operating system powering billions of devices. Andy’s expansive vision isn’t just limited to technology. Android’s success depended on discovering the right go-to-market model and pursuing the key business relationships that were required to make it the enormous success it is today. Andy sees what’s possible well before most people.
Whenever I visit Andy, he always has the newest thing, the yet-to-be available gadget. Years ago, he smuggled from Japan the smallest flip phone in production. He kept robotic dogs as pets. Andy bought one of the first Segways and immediately drove it up a half-pipe, just to see how the gyroscopic systems would react. At Google, he modified a huge auto manufacturing robotic arm to make a cappuccino and stamp the Android logo on it in chocolate. Later, he had a near life-size humanoid robot that followed you around. It’s this wonder and passion for technology that enabled Andy to change the world three times over.
We started talking in earnest about Andy joining Redpoint twelve months ago over a cup of coffee at his wife’s bakery in Los Altos. Andy had some big ideas about the evolution of hardware and software, but he wasn’t sure whether he would pursue them through his own hardware-focused incubator, Playground, or as a partner at Redpoint. Ultimately, we decided he should do both, and so we partnered a fourth time. Andy has become a Venture Partner at Redpoint, and Redpoint is the first investor in Playground.
Andy is a perfect complement to our team at Redpoint helping founders of mobile, marketplace, SaaS and infrastructure companies achieve their ambitions. There isn’t a founder out there that won’t benefit from Andy’s ideas, experience and industry connections.
Andy is already evaluating and backing companies with us, and we’re excited to see how he can help Redpoint founders moving forward. We’re thrilled that he’ll be a part of our team identifying the next great startups and working with teams to realize their full potential.