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Andreesen on everything

It’s been a week of distractions and there’s plenty I’d meant to say. Let’s do a bit of catching up…

If you have a spare hour, I’d highly recommend watching this interview with Marc Andreesen in full. Why? It’s a conversation with someone at the epicentre of Silicon Valley’s operations who speaks lucidly and confidently about what’s coming next.

If you don’t know him, Andreesen was the creator of Netscape, and an investor / board member for countless other big names of the web – Facebook and eBay among them – as well as contenders for the next gen kings of the networks Twitter, Qik, Ning etc. In this interview he announces he is starting his own VC fund – just in case he’s not busy enough.

In the few times I got out of the house and was lucid I must have mentioned this to people about a hundred times…

His views on everything from the credit crunch to device formats are fascinating. Here are some notes about things that tickled me….

  • Narrative-bias denial. I recall The Black Swan talks a lot about how we make sense of the past by telling ourselves stories about how it always made sense. It skews reality, hides us from the fact that we rarely really know what is about to happen. Andreesen’s too smart for that. Andreesen roams around the history of the web and post-war tech in general here, from Arpanet through IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Google. What’s great is his perspective binds the business view with the wider cultural. And the message that keeps coming back is: nothing was assured, nothing was inevitable. Each generation of game-changing giant tech company seemed like a wild bet for everyone (often including the founders). As a recent example he conjures the scene of an investor talk by Jeff Bezos of Amazon in the early part of this decade, with people walking out of the room shaking their heads at what they’ve just heard.
  • ….Obama 08 was just the beginning. the next generation of political campaigning will go far beyond just fundraising.
  • Reverse investment. Andreesen talks for a bit about business models which create demand for a product or service and when they are assured they have enough customers… go ahead and create it.
  • Bill Me Later will save the world. He mentions a company called Bill Me Later which gives people credit based on the transaction they are completing at that moment. It’s this kind of innovation around finances that is needed to help us crawl out of the credit crunch hole.
  • “The web sucks in industries as it grows.” The web is growing fast, it continues to grow and will not stop. I like this phrase about it sucking industries and re-making them as it goes. It’s a reminder that the profound effects of the web. We know this, but I just like the way he represents it to us. Calm, assured of change, uncertain what it will be.
  • Facebook (and Twitter) could be massively profitable today: Andreesen’s clear – they’ll find the right business model. Just like Google, slapping banners on their front page would make them rich right now, but that’s not the path they’re choosing to take.

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By Antony Mayfield

I'm Antony Mayfield - to find out more about me take a look at my LinkedIn profile (see the button on the home page). You can contact me by email at antony [dot] mayfield [at] gmail [dot] com.

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