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Adrian Fenty joins Andreessen Horowitz

September 26, 2012: 6:00 PM ET

Ex-DC mayor joins Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

FORTUNE -- Adrian Fenty, the former Washington, D.C. mayor known for his education reform strategy, has joined venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a special advisor.

It's a part-time position, but Fenty says that it could be the precursor to a new career. "What I'm really interested in is big solutions to problems, whether it be in education of elsewhere," Fenty says. "I think that what firms like Andreessen Horowitz are also trying to address."

Fenty came to national prominence after winning the mayor's office in 2006,by wresting control of the D.C. public schools from the local school board. He then named Michelle Rhee to the new position of schools chancellor, and supported a radical reform strategy that met with fierce opposition from teachers unions.

The moves appear to have helped improve student test scores, but didn't help Fenty hold onto his job. He would lose the Democratic primary in 2010 to city councilor Vincent Gray, and declined the opportunity to run as a Republican (Fenty won the GOP primary via write-in votes). Nationally, the loss was viewed as a rebuke to Fenty and Rhee's education moves -- although locally the story has become how members of Gray's campaign staff illegally supported a minor candidate whose only role seemed to be to attack Fenty.

Since then, Fenty has insisted that he has no future plans to run for electoral office. Instead, he's spent his time on the speaking circuit, teaching at Oberlin College and advising several education technology companies.

He says that he met Marc Andreessen earlier this year at an event for a California nonprofit called College Track, where Fenty serves on the board. The two hit it off, with Fenty eventually agreeing to become Andreessen Horowitz's second special advisor. The first is former u.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who joined last year.

Margit Wennmachers, a partner with Andreessen Horowitz, says that the firm's experience with Summers has "made us want to double-down" on special advisors.

Expect Fenty to focus most of his time on ed-tech companies, including existing Andreessen Horowitz investments like digital textbook maker Kno. He also will provide advice on dealing with local governments -- a good compliment to the federal bureaucracy know-how of Summers.

One thing Fenty seems unable to do, however, is to convince Marc Andreessen to support President Obama in November. "I'm probably the number one person who will buck people in my own party, so I don't see myself changing Marc's mind on that, " he says, in reference to his education battles (and his support for similar efforts by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker).

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Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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