Marc Andreessen — Lessons, Predictions, and Recommendations from an Icon

63 Comments

Marc Andreessen

“Raise prices.” – Marc Andreessen

Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) is a legendary figure in Silicon Valley — and worldwide. Even in the epicenter of tech, it’s hard to find a more fascinating icon.

Marc co-created the highly influential Mosaic Internet browser, the first widely used graphical web browser. He also co-founded Netscape, which later sold to AOL for $4.2 billion. Then he co-founded Loudcloud, which sold as Opsware to Hewlett Packard for $1.6 billion.

He’s considered one of the founding fathers of the modern Internet, right alongside pioneers like Tim Berners-Lee, who launched the Uniform Resource Locator (URL), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and early HTML standards.

This all makes him one of the few humans ever to create software categories used by more than a billion people. He’s also one of the few who’s established multiple billion-dollar companies.

Marc is now co-founder and general partner of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, where he’s quickly become one of the most influential and dominant tech investors in the world.

In this interview, we dig into some fun things Marc has not discussed in many places, including:

  • His epic debate vs. Peter Thiel
  • Rules for investing
  • The future of bitcoin
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Favorite books, documentaries, and movies
  • And much, much more

If you only have 5 minutes, here’s what Marc misses most about the mid-90s Internet (and what he’d like to bring back).

We had an extremely detailed and rich conversation, and I hope you enjoy it. Please do say hi to Marc — he’s very active on Twitter at @pmarca.

Enjoy!

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Want to hear another podcast featuring a brilliant investor?  — Listen to my conversation with Naval Ravikant. In this episode, we discuss the habits and behaviors of highly successful and happy people (stream below or right-click here to download):


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QUESTION OF THE DAY: What part of Marc’s interview did you find most fascinating? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Learn more and connect with Marc Andreessen:

Twitter | Andreessen Horowitz | a16z Podcast

Show Notes

  • What does Marc mean by the expression, “strong opinions loosely held?” [06:10]
  • The difference between politicians and hedge fund managers. [07:50]
  • How Marc advises a company that’s struggling with the decision to stay the course or pivot. [10:13]
  • What factors influence a decision for a substantial investment? [13:19]
  • The keys to fighting well with a business partner. [17:10]
  • Technology changes; people don’t. [22:28]
  • What Marc misses about mid-’90s Internet. [25:18]
  • Is there any validity to concerns about artificial intelligence taking over the world? [31:24]
  • Marc’s thoughts on why the economy gets less dynamic every year.  [36:23]
  • How Marc deals with FOMO (fear of missing out). [38:47]
  • Why Marc’s company bets for change when other successful investors would bet against it. [42:23]
  • What would Marc teach a class of 50 college freshmen? [44:50]
  • Why Marc feels it’s important for people struggling to dream up new ideas to learn how things were made in the past. [46:52]
  • The future of drones and AI. [48:01]
  • What advice would Marc give his 21-year-old self? [56:44]
  • When Marc thinks of the word successful and who comes to mind. [58:07]
  • Morning rituals that might surprise you. [1:00:09]
  • Favorite shows and movies. [1:00:57]
  • What would be on Marc’s billboard, and where would it be? [1:03:50]
  • What has Marc changed his mind about in the last few years? [1:05:26]
  • The debate with Peter Thiel at the Milken Institute. [1:08:48]
  • Smart enough to listen to this podcast? Marc wants to hire you (maybe)! [1:11:08]

People Mentioned

Posted on: May 29, 2016.

Please check out Tools of Titans, my new book, which shares the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. It was distilled from more than 10,000 pages of notes, and everything has been vetted and tested in my own life in some fashion. The tips and tricks in Tools of Titans changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for sample chapters, full details, and a Foreword from Arnold Schwarzenegger!

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63 comments on “Marc Andreessen — Lessons, Predictions, and Recommendations from an Icon

  1. Finding myself increasingly irritated listening to Andreessen bloviate all about net job construction/destruction. How truly out of touch with the people who make less money than he has and still does to this day, despite his massive mis-step with Netscape. Even the tone of his voice. He sounds like he has swallowed a frog or something, like he is on his back. It’s really easy to sound smart when you have a ton of money. But the fact remains: a ton of people ain’t working and have no prospects for work. Incredible that you never challenged or questioned Marc on this key detail.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Great come back Doug.

        I myself couldn’t finish the interview because of his neurotic speech pattern. Appearance is ideology they say, and I guessed Marc is a very liberal guy who constantly gets triggered, hence the nervous mannerism.
        Sad, because he is highly intelligent and creative.

        Like

      • that’s rude, SD is giving valid feedback. If you can’t contribute to open conversation countering his points, you should be blocked.

        Like

    • Net numbers of job creation/destruction, IMO, don’t tell the story. Quality versus Quantity? Are these new jobs suitable for maintaining a decent standard of living? Are they attainable by displaced folks without significant investment in self-funded (time and money) re-training?

      My anecdotal experience says “no” to both questions but would love to see the numbers.

      Perhaps the folks adding metadata to the discussion notes can provide a link to the WEC report?

      Like

    • He is correct in saying that the system figures itself out. The progression of AI is inevitable, and so are the jobs that will be lost. Therefore people, both lower and higher class, have no choice but to adapt. There is no use in crying about job destruction, because it will happen. So why not look forward to the exciting prospects of AI, which will create more opportunities, ones that will far outweigh the impact of lost jobs (which isn’t even a huge issue since our economy repeatedly endures phases of heavy job destruction anyway).

      Like

  2. QUESTION OF THE DAY: What part of Marc’s interview did you find most fascinating?

    Loved – “Convicted, convicted, convicted – New facts – Change” – great strategy for success in business and life!

    “Smart people should build things” – that’s what I believe, if you got what it takes, you got to build things and change the world – that’s your obligation.
    Any kind of reality changing projects is building things for me.

    “Be so good they can’t ignore you” – loved it. Loved the book by Cal Newport: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love”

    “Everything was made up by people that were no smarter than you” – loved that Steve Jobs quote. That’s why I love autobiographies also. They make you realize that the world is changed by people just like you who committed themselves to a vision. No one has an excuse not to be great at what they do, not to transform the world in some way. Elon Musk, Steve Jobs … – they were all just committed-to-vision people.

    “What do nerds do on the weekends” – areas of next entrepreneurial breakthroughs.

    Great interview! Thank you!!!

    Like

  3. “The perfect day is 10 hours of caffeine, 4 hours of alcohol.”

    I almost spit out my mouthful of Jack Daniels. Still laughing.

    Coming from anyone else I would have suggested meditation or therapy. From Mark Andreesen? Really?

    Laughing…

    Like

  4. Finally! I’ve been waiting for this to happen since the very first episodes and especially the Peter Thiel one🙂 Thanks a lot for providing a great background for tomorrow’s morning run

    Like

  5. A fun interview, Tim.
    If I can make one suggestion (after listening to nearly all of the interviews you’ve done over the past several years): It would be interesting to hear you push your guests to the edge of their comfort zone, or perhaps even a little further. Of course we want to hear about Marc’s relationship with Ben H, about his investment strategies, about how the Valley and the tech industry have evolved, etc. But why not ask him about something unexpected or even controversial (in a friendly and genuinely curious way)?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The “Make things” and “Be so good they can’t ignore you” advice was right on target although the “10 hours of caffeine, 4 hours of alcohol” was podcast gold.

    Like

  7. I was surprised by how many times Marc spoke about building and creating things, and not necessarily digital things. He mentioned art about seven times, which is seven more times than I would have expected! I’m fascinated by how someone so entrenched in digital and financial worlds still appreciates the importance of humans making things with their hands.

    Like

  8. Great podcast! Mark is a very interesting guy. A lot of the things he says are great but I don’t think he is right in some parts. We don’t need more products! We don’t need more services. We don’t need more technology. These things don’t make us happy. What we need is to find our inner balance and connection with nature. We need to find consciousness and focus on living.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Whoa. Such an inspiring conversation! I’ll be watching Airware and Sky Deal. It will be interesting to see how they make their mark on the world.

    Like

  10. First, I just want to say, I’m big fan of this show! This was an interesting interview. One part I would have loved to hear more about was Marc Andreessen’s thoughts on AI.

    When it comes to the topic of AI, I’m regularly surprised by the two ends of the spectrum many thought leaders fall under: those who think the concern of AI is overblown and those who think the concern of AI is definitely warranted.

    I personally am always surprised to hear someone who thinks the concerns are overblown. Interestingly, Marc Andreessen seems to think there is nothing to worry about with the progression of AI. I would love to learn why that is.

    Does Marc believe (A) digital intelligence will never reach a level of “general intelligence” (i.e. able to do everything equal or better than a human could),

    Or does he believe (B) that there isn’t need for concern about AI even if machines achieve general levels of intelligence.

    Or does he believe (C) that the time a machine is likely to have general level of intelligence is just too far away into the future that it doesn’t warrant.

    If Marc’s opinion is based on point A, (i.e. Marc believes a machine will never have general intelligence), I would love to know why he thinks that. In my opinion, if human intelligence developed through natural evolution, it seems extremely reasonable that a machine could achieve this level of intelligence with the application of concerted efforts and rapid technological progress.

    If Marc’s opinion is based on point B (i.e. we don’t need to worry about machines comprising general intelligence), I severely struggle to understand how one could not be concerned with that outcome. If a machine is able to do something equal to / better than anything a human could do, what role does a human have? Or worse, it seems likely we would lose our dominant control of our environment and face much dire consequences.

    If Marc’s opinion is based on point C, I wonder why he would think general level intelligence is so far off that it doesn’t warren concern. According to one reputable source, Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence, it seems most AI experts are debating about when this general level of intelligence will occur in THIS century. To me, and I expect many people, that seems like a close time frame and would warrant concern.

    Tim – I would have loved if you could have dug deeper into the AI subject with Marc or perhaps share anything that he might have shared with you on the subject. I also think it would be great if you could interview some other people who are particularly knowledgable on the subject and really dive deep into it, like Demis Hassabis, representatives from OpenAI, Nick Bostrom, etc.

    Like

    • You seem to have thought deeply about AI, Nick. Could you point me toward some of your favorite resources regarding AI? I am writing a novel on the topic. Thanks!

      Like

      • Doug, Tim and everyone – the fairly recent feature film Ex Machina is about AI. It’s brilliant!! Really engrossing, thrilling, un nerving. Just don’t ruin it by reading every review you can before you watch it😉 Films are so much better when you jump in without knowing (providing you feel you can trust the recommendation)

        Like

    • Yes I was surprised at his view that there’s nothing to worry about technology because people have always been worried and resistant in the past. Nassim Taleb has a risk assessment chart for GMO’s on his web-site. He’s opposed to them on the basis that this is a technology that has the potential to wipe out mankind. When you can’t put the genie back in the bottle it’s time to be a little concerned.

      Like

  11. Interesting and wide-ranging interview, thanks Tim.

    One suggestion: the questions were all pretty predictable. Why not ask something completely unexpected (or even controversial)? like his and his wife’s decision not to have kids? or his views on inequality? or what he considers the biggest mistake he’s ever made?

    Like

  12. what did I find so fascinating?

    That there was no discussion about/on things WAY more important and necessary (and, I would have thought, blatantly obvious to someone in a position of influence like Mr Andreesson)

    * Tell Tim to upgrade his site to HTTPS ASAP and give him a judo chop for not doing it years ago😉 And have a clear public statement on the blog that acknowledges Tim has had guidance from security professionals and protects his user database securely off line, and the private details of his readers are not harvested and sold, etc

    * People find it hard to trust 5 Bullet Friday when all the links are so obfuscated it’s impossible to know if they are from Tim or a 3rd party, if they are clickbait, if they install malware – god only knows. Myself and many colleagues refuse to click on them for this plain reason. Sorta hoped for a bit more transparency, some people feel a bit manipulated😉

    the really important stuff:

    * the refusal of sillicon valley to respect the privacy of users of technology and not accumulate and sell private data.

    *FBI vs Apple and what it means for us, apple or non apple users

    * Edward Snowden and his releases, and what that means for all of us

    * Wikileaks and Julian Assange and the government war of 100% smearing his reputation (just consider everything you know about him, is wrong) instead of focusing on the vital, essential and lifesaving work he did

    * Recent news about whistleblowers having all their constitutional and legal rights eroded and forcing the activity to happen illegally

    * The US Congress / Googles and Facebooks war on humanity

    * Encryption,The Tor Project, Bruce Schneier, Marlin Moxiespike, Signal App, Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Guardian Project , Proton Mail .

    Someone in this position has an extraordinary responsibility to serve. I’m not singling you out Mr Andresson, not at all, but my general point is it is common for people to become rich and famous and forget that, once you get to that position, your priorities need to take a 180 turn and ones sole mission statement every day needs to be about helping everyone less fortunate than yourself. No more ‘taking’ . I’m here with Tim only because Tim has given me every indication he has the humility and self awareness to remember this.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Tim,
    I love the podcast. I have just recently been drowning in it. I am wondering if you could answer a couple questions or tackle business ideas that are not new or startup business’s. I can see where the lessons and ideas you present may apply to already established business’s but I can’t seem to draw the make the full connection.

    Like

  14. I didn’t think you could better the Jamie Foxx interview; then came Cal Fussman. Now this, very different, interview with Marc Andreessen hits the heights again. Love the podcasts. Keep them coming.

    Like

  15. My grandfather can answer Marc’s question about why we don’t have supersonic transport here in the U.S. – he was just recently telling me how he and a colleague did the analysis for it for the Pentagon back in the ’70s (they’re both brilliant). Quite fascinating.

    Like

  16. Wonderful but intense interview. I had to keep checking my phone to be sure that it wasn’t running at 1.5 speed. Well done!

    Like

  17. I am not in the VC, AI, or any of the industries that Marc is but WOW that was a fantastic Podcast! Love the energy level of the conversation between the two of you, thanks so much for putting it together. Have a great week Tim.

    Like

  18. As always, an interesting and inspiring perspective on life. During the interview, Neal Gabler’s biography of Walt Disney was referenced. Neal wrote an interesting piece for The Atlantic a few months ago, The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans which details his personal difficulties if faced with a financial challenge/emergency of $400 or greater.

    Like

  19. Love everything about you Tim, you make this former Valley boy proud open-sourcing the code of your mind, but Andreesen’s obviously brilliant but why is he distorting history?

    “[I] got there and the PC was dead, it was done”. Why from the beginning did Netscape try to go toe-to-toe with and get crushed by the two biggest PC-based companies, IBM and Microsoft if that was true? It wasn’t true and even the tablet and smart phone haven’t killed it.

    If only Netscape pivoted to any “New frontiers… ” in front of us. Totally in our wheelhouse, we missed the application server market. We declined to buy Yahoo! after some negotiations that would have been the mother of all pivots, we completely missed the significance of the Netscape default homepage. Web email? Only after Hotmail sold to Microsoft and everyone rushed to follow.

    We did push an international lawsuit about how Microsoft was giving their browser away for free and it was uncompetitive towards us.

    Andreessen didn’t arrive in Silicon Valley, he WENT with the Mosaic browser code that came out of his crew of coders at the U of Illinois. In a prime example of lack of self-awareness (and property rights) and casting a shadow over his scruples he wanted to call the company Mosaic Communications but couldn’t as the U of Illinois wouldn’t let him.

    The worst is to say that he and some others got their “heads around the internet” in ’93-’94. That’s an insult to his forefathers in code and technology. Everything Netscape did was known to be necessary 10 years earlier. When they started coding mainframes when the microchip came out they might not have predicted eBay or the exact shake out of social media, but they had their heads around what would become the internet before they know the DARPA project even existed.

    What an incredible interview it would have been in how he managed the ups and downs and came out on top. He could have given great insight on the pivot/no pivot decision as Netscape failed because we didn’t pivot.

    Why fabricate the history and diss your predecessors when you’re now on top of the world?

    Like

    • I don’t think he meant the PC was dead in terms of sales, I think he meant in terms of innovation, of opportunity for a new startup in the PC space; he means that the PC was a solved problem, both technologically and in terms of which businesses owned the market (essentially Microsoft and Intel).

      I remember when the iPhone and especially the iPad came out, and I thought “finally the personal computing market is going to get interesting again”, because it had been WinTel with incremental improvements for a long time, and Apple Macs had something like 3% to 5% market share, and Linux on the desktop did not exist in any significant market share out side of engineering professionals, Chromebooks did not exist, etc.

      Like

      • You’re right, that’s what he meant. But my point is that he used the “dead” PC as a argumentative device to imply 1) how backwards/old/stodgy/(insert what is before innovation) everything was and then 2) his “innovator/visionary” status when “[he]… and others… got his head around the internet” when the fact is that’s a fabrication and he WENT to Silicon Valley with the intellectual property of a team from the University of Illinois (not legally but talk to a open-source coder especially in those days, and ethically it was) to profit on what they had already developed for the internet, and most everybody KNEW the internet was coming next but were coming back the financial recession of ’91-92.

        Then instead of using Netscape to become innovative (Yahoo the most obvious) he doubled down on the PC as you say “solved problem” world, made incremental advancements, and in the process of competing in that PC world, ruined the company battling Microsoft and IBM.

        This is an interview so we can see inside a top performer. But he sounds less like someone from innovative Silicon Valley but more someone from Wall Street and I for one am tired of self-aggrandizement, PR and whitewashing history no matter the industry. Call me old, but the original ethos of Silicon Valley was not about that stuff. Wouldn’t have been a 10x better podcast if he talked about what he did wrong, the mistakes he made and the lessons learned? Is it not relevant and inform you into “who” Andreessen is, that he does the former first and doesn’t do the latter?

        Like

  20. The last 10 minutes — his answer to the question what have you changed your mind about in the last 2 years: (1) investing in health/healthcare; (2) the Peter Thiel, Larry Page, Elon Musk assertion – yes, we can take on the really wicked problems, and if not us, then who?

    Like

  21. Tim,

    Why don’t you try and get a top lawyer as a guest on your podcast?

    Not some hukster. A high-level, ethical, world-class prosecutor or defender?

    Or maybe a really good human rights lawyer?

    How about Clive Stafford Smith of Repreive? He’s a fascinating (British) guy, pretty famous in his homeland, who defends Americans in death penalty cases who wouldn’t otherwise get decent representation.

    I think getting someone from this field would give a fascinating insight into the legal system and how the best people within it work.

    All the best.

    Like

  22. Tim – PLEASE try and get Balaji Srinivasan as a guest on your podcast. Mark mentioned him during your interview, and I went a found another recent podcast at a16z where he and Mark were interviewed. I thought Eric Wenstein, and Naval were incredibly bright… but I have never heard anyone like Balaji speak before. WOW

    The link to the A16Z pdocast is here…
    http://a16z.com/2016/05/30/as-the-pendulum-swings/

    Like

  23. Loved the interview. I’ve been listening to all of your financial/investing interviews and have read several of your book recommendations.

    I have question though. Do you have any books or other sources you would recommend for making angel investing similar to how you were at the ground floor with uber and twitter?

    Like

  24. I’m a new listener to the podcasts having recently been introduced to Tim. Fantastic conversations and an absolute credit that most of the comments want more information or a deeper dive in the already “long form”. Great talk with Marc. Can’t wait for Gladwell.

    Like

  25. My favorite quote…

    [In 1993,] if you said that the internet would become a mainstream medium that 3 billion people are going to use worldwide for all forms of human activity, you would have been laughed at… — Marc Andreessen [26:00]

    Like

  26. Tim, love your podcast. Some guests, like Andresson, I would listen to anywhere. Some guests, I have listened to just because they were on your podcast. Almost always worthwhile for me.
    Like to recommend Christopher McDougall as a guest on your podcast. Author of Natural Born Heroes (current book) and a previous book (Born to Run). Both great.
    Thanks

    Like

  27. Great interview, a lot to take in at the speed he talks. I loved the part about arguing with team members. I hope everyone doesnt just start arguing with their bosses now ;-P.

    I’d love to know how he recommends arguing with colleagues and superiors, guidelines on how to argue constructively without breaking any barriers

    Like

  28. This Episode is AMAZING! mind changing, fascinating….ahead of the curve…can’t believe we can such quality content for FREE! truly wonderful…this is my second listen, there will be a 3rd when I need to inspiration.

    Cheers
    David Mayes

    Like

  29. Late to the game. That is the title of this comment. Tim Ferris and Marc Andreesen weren’t unfamiliar to me but it has only been the last month that I decided to start listening to podcasts instead of music when I go out for daily walks. There are others I have been enjoying but Tim’s is definitely at the top of my list and this talk with Marc is one of my favorites.

    Like

  30. I listened to this last night while painting and it fired up my brain in an unexpected way. My brushes became too slow for my ideas and I end up painting on Illustrator until 2am instead. I know spirituality is one of your shadow topic but I find that Marc Andreessen and smart geeks like him have an inherent spirituality to them. Not the kind of wanna be spirituality of modern yuppies that wear shirts saying ‘I am enlightened and spiritual’. Marc consistently thinks outside the box, he creates, he stops at the gate for one reason only – to figure out a way to open the darn thing. I revere fringe dwellers. I don’t know much about spirituality but all spiritual people are fringe dwellers.

    On the Icarus myth. Marc says ‘Will we get too close to the sun and burn our wings?’ That’s a smooth question but I think it lacks depth. What if we knew for sure that we were going to get too close to the sun and burn our wings? Would we keep on flying or would we go back to safer endeavours? The safest place to be sometimes is being in danger.

    Like