If you regularly tune in for Marc Andreessen's tweet storms, you might feel like you already know the outspoken venture capitalist on some level.
But in a new, almost 14,000-word profile, in The New Yorker, staff writer Tad Friend takes a deeply personal look into the Silicon Valley mogul's life and captures a number of statements that reveal some of the mind-bending thinking behind his investments.
After immersing with him, Friend concludes that perhaps the reason Andreessen is obsessed with the future is because his "childhood was so intensely bad." This, according to Andreessen Horowitz Cofounder, Ben Horowitz. Friend confirmed that the once poor Wisconsin native rarely brings up his past.
So instead of reminiscing, Andreessen is constantly projecting, according to Friend. Andreessen says that it might look smart to worry about the future, but he remains intensely optimistic, as the excerpts below capture.
Andreessen on The Valley's overall impact:
"Would the world be a better place if there were fifty Silicon Valleys?" he said. "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 why today is nothing like the dot-com boom:
"The argument in favor of concern is cyclical," he told me -- busts follow booms. "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. It's Carlota Perez's argument that technology is adopted on an S curve: the installation phase, the crash -- because the technology isn't ready yet -- and then the deployment phase, when technology gets adopted by everyone and the real money gets made."
Venture capitalist Peter Thiel on why VCs invest in what they do:
But, Thiel says, Andreessen is well positioned, because of his broad knowledge and flexible mind-set, to respond to incremental changes in an array of fields. And that, he argues, is what the times reward: "While Twitter is a lesser innovation than flying cars, it's a much more valuable business. We live in a financial age, not a technological age."
Andreessen's response to the idea of 'pattern recognition:'
The key to investing, Andreessen contends, is to be aggressive and to fight your instinct to pattern-match. "Breakthrough ideas look crazy, nuts," he said, adding, "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."