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Howard Hartenbaum, the earliest investor in Internet phone company Skype, has joined Silicon Valley venture capital firm August Capital as a partner.

August partner David Hornik blogs about the move, and describes the hazing process of inviting someone new like Hartenbaum into the firm. He summarizes the decision to hire Hartenbaum as follows:

First and foremost, Howard is a geek. After graduating from MIT, Howard didn’t join an investment bank; he joined Honda Motor Company where he served as an ergonomics engineer. He got to build awesome products like the NSX. If there is one thing we like to do at partners meetings while eating lunch, it is talk about cars. Cars and email. Cars, email and digital photography. Cars, email, digital photography and high speed wireless. Cars, email, digital photography, high speed wireless and smart phones. Cars, email, digital photography . . . you get the point. Howard is a welcomed addition to the conversation.

Second, Howard firmly believes that the most important thing in a start-up are the founders. Howard has a great track record of working with entrepreneurs to help them bring their vision to fruition. As a result, entrepreneurs love Howard because he is helpful without being overbearing. What’s more, Howard was an entrepreneur before becoming an investor. So he’s been on both sides of the table and can bring that perspective not only to his portfolio companies, but also to our investment decisions.

And third, Howard is a great investor. Prior to joining us at August Capital, Howard was a General Partner with Draper Richards. He has invested in dozens of interesting technology companies. Notably, Howard was the very first investor in Skype and got involved in the business on the company building side (Howard was active in Skype’s global business development efforts and served as the GM of Skype’s US business). Howard was also an investor in Photobucket and Bebo, among many others. Howard’s track record is impressive and it hasn’t gone unnoticed — he was named to the Forbes Midas List in 2007.


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