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Former Facebook Lawyer Joins Andreessen Horowitz for New Policy Group

Ex-Facebook general counsel Ted Ullyot will focus on policy but won't be lobbying.

Andreessen Horowitz

Former Facebook general counsel Ted Ullyot has joined Andreessen Horowitz to launch a new policy division focused on helping the venture firm’s companies avoid running afoul of state or federal lawmakers.

Andreessen is starting the new group to handle tricky policy issues that have started to affect many of its portfolio companies, ground that Facebook had to cross early on, Ullyot said in an interview.

“As I look around the landscape today, you have many companies today in a similar position to where Facebook was in the early days,” he said.

Friction can occur when startups in heavily-regulated industries such as financial services or aviation start to take off and — with the help of established competitors — attract negative attention from politicians and regulators. “It’s important for companies to navigate through that,” he said.

Ullyot says he won’t be lobbying but will be advising portfolio companies on policy or political issues and connecting them with people who can help.

The firm has no shortage of portfolio companies facing regulatory or political hurdles as Washington and state regulators are increasingly focused on updating privacy laws, setting new rules for sharing-economy companies like Airbnb or drafting new safety regulations for the burgeoning drone industry.

Although perhaps best known as the legal mind that helped Facebook successfully negotiate a privacy settlement with the FTC, defeat the Winklevii and launch a (messy but ultimately successful) IPO, Ullyot’s roots are in Washington. The Republican’s career took off after he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia after graduating from the University of Chicago Law School.

After working at a D.C.-area law firm, Ullyot joined the legal department at AOL where he helped on the company’s merger with Time Warner Inc. and worked his way up through the ranks to lead the company’s European legal team.

He left the corporate world behind, for a time, to work in the White House counsel’s office for President George W. Bush and later as chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In the fall of 2008, Ullyot joined Facebook as its first general counsel and stayed with the company for the next five years.

After leaving Facebook, Ullyot says he traveled a bit and began consulting for a few companies, including Palantir Technologies. Most recently, he helped found the Economic Innovation Group, a recently launched bipartisan tech-funded think tank focused on economic policy issues.

For now, there are no plans to open a Washington office, Ullyot said, although the firm is likely to add more policy-focused talent in his new division in the coming year.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.