Michael Ovitz, tech dealmakerOctober 10, 2013: 8:50 AM ET
The once hard-charging Hollywood agent has reinvented himself as a Silicon Valley deal guru.
FORTUNE -- Michael Ovitz, once the most powerful agent in Hollywood -- and the most notorious -- has taken his Rolodex to the Valley and set himself up as an adviser to young tech entrepreneurs. His new act is described in a feature article by David A. Kaplan in the new issue of Fortune magazine, Michael Ovitz does Silicon Valley.
At Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital powerhouse, Ovitz is an "in-house mentor on how to build a full-service operation in the mold of Creative Artists Agency, the Hollywood talent monolith he built and ran from 1975 to 1995," Kaplan writes. Marc Andreessen describes his contribution this way: "Michael is the classic kind of entrepreneur that we like up here -- he's highly aggressive, he's highly disruptive."
"Aggressive" and "disruptive" are on the kind end of the spectrum of adjectives used to describe Ovitz over the years. When he was a Hollywood kingpin representing the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman he made a lot of enemies conducting business, Kaplan writes, with "a gap-toothed smile that belied a taste for blood."
Ovitz got his comeuppance when he left CAA to become the No. 2 at Disney, working for Michael Eisner -- no pussycat himself. Eisner fired him after 15 months -- with $140 million in severance.
Reinventing himself as a Silicon Valley deal guru, Ovitz has assembled a network that includes Andreessen; angel investor Ron Conway; Skype president Tony Bates; Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel; and many others. Acknowledging the skepticism about Ovitz's past, they give him the benefit of the doubt for now. As Peter Szulczewski, the CEO of Wish, a shopping startup, puts it, "I haven't seen the type of things people warned me about."