News & Analysis
Almost Psychic ... Andreessen Most Clairvoyant Person Since Pythia, or Not?
Marc Andreessen on Mobile, Social, and the Next Big Thing ... Tech guru Marc Andreessen says he's bullish on the U.S. economy saying, "We're coming up on year 15 of a flat stock market. Historically that's a pretty good sign. So I'm not a hedge-fund manager but if I was I think I'd be feeling pretty good." ... I caught up with Marc Andreessen in an exclusive interview ahead of his talk at Wired's "Disruptive by Design" conference and he's betting big on social and mobile. He couldn't comment about Facebook and its pending IPO because he's an investor and on the board, but he said that the social approach can be -- and must be -- applied to a range of industries, and that companies that wire social deeply into what they're doing are better protected from disruption. Andreessen tells me that now he's particularly interested in social commerce, saying he's very excited about Pinterest in particular. That gives a hint at that sharing startup's future business model. – Wired
Dominant Social Theme: Wow! The next big thing! And Andreessen "gets it!"
Free-Market Analysis: Marc Lowell Andreessen has always been at the forefront of the "technology revolution" and has made a lot of money by doing so. Now he is really excited about small phone-'Net technology and of course social networking.
Has Andreessen lost his edge? Or is he as au courant as ever? Here's what Wikipedia tells us about him:
... Andreessen is an American entrepreneur, investor, software engineer, and multi-millionaire best known as co-author of Mosaic, the first widely-used web browser, and co-founder of Netscape Communications Corporation ... He sits on the board of directors of Facebook, eBay, and HP, among others. Andreessen is a frequent keynote speaker and guest at Silicon Valley conferences ...
In ancient Greece, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, "the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god Apollo after he slew the Python, a dragon who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth." Pythia was the name of the priestess that presided over Delphi.
Perhaps you can detect, dear reader, that we are slightly skeptical of Andreessen and his latest crop of predictions. That's only because we try to see the "bigger picture" when it comes to the Internet and it seems to us that Andreessen (2.0) is getting carried away by upcoming technology. Here's some more from the Wired article:
Despite the billion dollar valuation Instagram drew, Andreessen says he does not think we're in another Internet bubble - which is why he continues to invest ... The issue, Andreessen says, is that the real growth potential is in the private markets, not in the public ones ...
The problem is that in the last ten years there's been additional regulatory load put on companies that makes it harder for them to raise money and go public. But Andreessen is optimistic that the Jobs Act will help change that, saying it should help them raise money, which will in term help them become more successful. He didn't mince words, saying "we need more reform like that."
He says he's "quite bullish" on the American economy, pointing out that we're in year 15 of a flat stock market.
Jeez, Marc, you're starting to lose us ... We tend to see the Internet as a kind of revolutionary Gutenberg Press. But you're all wrapped up round new regulations and upcoming technology.
Does the technology really matter at this point? Did iterations of Gutenberg's technology really make a difference after the first big breakthrough? Same with regulations. Did royal mandates actually make a difference once the momentum for the press had taken off?
Is Andreessen seeing the forest for the trees? Once you've seen the larger scope of futurity the way that Andreessen once saw it, it's probably a little bit hard to elevate yourself to that empyrean plane once more.
Andreessen isn't a tech-worker now. He's a full-fledged guru sitting on top boards and being breathlessly chased for interviews. This often takes the "edge" off. Sorry.
So we will respectfully disagree with this great visionary. Once he saw more than almost anybody. But the Internet's Reformation is firmly underway now – and the shapes it fits into probably don't matter so much anymore.
Nor does social networking as we've often pointed out. That's kind of an elite dominant social theme in our view, a kind of promotional propaganda.
The idea is that the Internet is this democratic facility of enlightenment. That's how it's working out, in fact. But the power elite that wants to create world government behind the scenes doesn't like this sort of participatory democracy.
So "social networking" has been created – controlled from the top down by strangely named people like Mark Zuckerberg.
Just think about which is the more revolutionary concoction – a million people beavering away on their own websites or a million people beavering away on controlled and highly formalized pre-masticated facilities like Facebook.
See the difference? Andreessen is trying to make the case for the future of the Internet as a highly controlled and even regulated entity in our view.
But the Internet – and the Internet Reformation – is essentially an anarchical environment, and its power comes from its very unpredictability.
The Internet is an emotive and mental facility at this point that has little to do with specifics of aggregated control via Facebook or its miniaturization via handheld cell devices.
What makes the Internet powerful is its initial breakthrough – its networked and wireless conventions that allowed people to talk to each other in ways they hadn't before. This will remain its power, and the more it retains this functionality, the more powerful it will become.
Conclusion: Simple, eh? Andreessen once thought that simply and straightforwardly. But now in our view, his vision is getting a bit cluttered. The Internet isn't being driven by technology. It's being driven by people. And human action.