Quoted: Marc Andreessen — quotes from the New Yorker piece

“Breakthrough ideas look crazy, nuts. It’s hard to think this way — I see it in other people’s body language, and I can feel it in my own, where I sometimes feel like I don’t even care if it’s going to work, I can’t take more change. O.K., Google, O.K., Twitter—but Airbnb? People staying in each other’s houses without there being a lot of axe murders?”

Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and Silicon Valley sage, in an interview with the New Yorker. His venture firm, Andreessen Horowitz, passed on Airbnb’s A round in 1999, but led the San Francisco company’s B round a couple of years later.

Airbnb founder Brian Chesky told the magazine that Andreessen and Ben Horowitz “did a one-eighty and were very humble. Marc said he now saw it through the lens of eBay: buying stuff from strangers.”

The (long) New Yorker piece contains many other Andreessen quotes that make you think, the kind he routinely doles out to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, sometimes in “tweetstorms.”

Speaking of Twitter:

Reporters are obsessed with it. It’s like a tube and I have loudspeakers installed in every reporting cubicle around the world.

There’s Andreessen the optimist:

Would the world be a better place if there were fifty Silicon Valleys. Obviously, yes. Over the past thirty years, the level of income throughout the developing world is rising, the number of people in poverty is shrinking, health outcomes are improving, birth rates are falling. And it’ll be even better in ten years. Pessimism always sounds more sophisticated than optimism — it’s the Eden-collapse myth over and over again — and then you look at G.D.P. per capita worldwide, and it’s up and to the right. If this is collapse, let’s have more of it!

On wanting to fund companies that have the potential to change the world:

At the same time, we’re not funding Mother Teresa. We’re funding imperial, will-to-power people who want to crush their competition. Companies can only have a big impact on the world if they get big.

On the way he thinks. (Tad Friend, the writer of the piece, notes that Andreessen once unleashed a tweetstorm on how people who take a position on net neutrality should know the history, technology, economics and just about everything else about the subject.)

I could never tolerate not knowing why. You have to work your way back to figure out the politics, the motivations. I always stop when I get to evolutionary psychology, and why we have tribes — oh, O.K., we’re primates cursed with emotions and the ability to do logical thinking.

Finally, why the tech boom this time around is different. (Despite his warning about runaway startup spending.)

The counterargument is that stuff works now. In 2000, you had fifty million people on the Internet, and the number of smartphones was zero. Today, you have three billion Internet users and two billion smartphones. It’s Pong versus Nintendo.


Photo: Marc Andreessen in 2012. (Dai Sugano/Mercury News)




Share this Post