Best of Marc Andreessen

I’ve compiled excerpts from Marc Andreessen’s past interviews, writing, and tweetstorms. This post contains the best of what he’s said. Thank you for reading and hope you enjoy!

Table of Contents

  1. Where to Start
  2. #1 Piece of Advice for Entrepreneurs
  3. Anticipating Effects of Technology
  4. Burn Rates
  5. Challenges of Venture Capital
  6. Common Fallacies with Tech Valuation
  7. Creativity
  8. Dealing With Past Failures
  9. Disruption Theory
  10. Don’t Fetishize Failure
  11. Don’t Overestimate the People on Pedestals
  12. Ethics
  13. Fallacy of Doomful AI
  14. Figuring Out Best Ideas
  15. Future of Economic Development
  16. Generosity
  17. Ideas
  18. Internet’s Missing Feature
  19. Pitfalls of Thinking of the Future
  20. Raising Prices
  21. Strength vs Lack of Weakness
  22. Strong Opinions Loosely Held
  23. Success is a Question of When, Not If
  24. Tech and Income Inequality
  25. Additional Resources

Where to Start

This article introduces the eccentricities of Marc, Andreessen Horowitz, and Silicon Valley.

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#1 Piece of Advice for Entrepreneurs

So the number one piece of advice that I have ever read and that I tell people on these kind of topics is always from the comedian Steve Martin, who I think is an absolute genius, wrote a great book on the start of his career, which obviously was very successful. The book is called “Born standing up”, it’s a short little book and it describes how he became Steve Martin. And the part of the book is, he says what is the key to success? The key to success is be so good they can’t ignore you.

So in a sense, we are going to have this whole conversation and I am sure we will keep having it, but it is beside the point, because if you do as Parker has done and you build a business that is going to be a gigantic success then investors are throwing money at you.And if you come in with a theory and a plan and no data and you are just one of the next thousand, it’s going to be far, far harder to raise money. So that is the positive way to put it, is to be so good they can’t ignore you. You are almost always better off making your business better than you are making your pitch better.

The other thing, that’s the positive way to look at it, the negative way or the cautionary lesson is that, and this gets me in trouble every single time I say it, but I am on a ton of flu medications so I am going to go ahead and just let it rip, raising venture capital is the easiest thing a startup founder is ever going to do. As compared to recruiting engineers, recruiting engineer number twenty. It’s far harder than raising venture capital. Selling to large enterprise is harder, getting viral growth going on a consumer business is harder, getting advertising revenue is harder. Almost everything you’ll ever do is harder than raising venture capital. So I think Parker is exactly right, if you get in the situation where raising the money is hard, it’s probably not hard compared to all the other stuff that is about to follow. It is very important to bear that in mind. It’s often said that raising money is not actually a success, it’s not actually a milestone for a company and I think that is true. And I think that is the underlying reason, it puts you in a position to do all the other harder things.

Source: https://genius.com/Marc-andreessen-lecture-9-how-to-raise-money-annotated

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Anticipating Effects of Technology

There is not a lot of historical evidence that either the inventor of the new technology or anybody else can anticipate the effects very well. My favorite story…is Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, and like literally they didn’t quite know what it was going to be for, and they made a list of the use cases and applications…Music was not on the list. It was just viewed as why would you do that? Why would you listen to music in your home? And then the other was Edison’s personal number one thing which he thought was a slam dunk for market adoption was of course listening to religious sermons…And so if Edison couldn’t figure that out, it’s a stretch to say that the rest of us can…These technologies get invented and they can’t be uninvented. Jack Welch put this well one time, he just said at one point there was no steel, and then there was steel, and people either figured out what to do with steel or not. Right? You could do lots of things with steel. You could build buildings, or you could build battleships. In fact people did both and the world changed. It’s more a question of how do you adapt. It’s more a question of how do you accommodate the change and deal with the change than it is a question of trying to anticipate it.

Source: https://medium.com/@zachullman/transcript-a16zs-marc-andreessen-with-axios-dan-primack-423b767817b8

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Burn Rates

New founders in last 10 years have ONLY been in environment where money is always easy to raise at higher valuations. THAT WILL NOT LAST.

When the market turns, and it will turn, we will find out who has been swimming without trunks on: many high burn rate co’s will VAPORIZE.

High cash burn rates are dangerous in several ways beyond the obvious increased risk of running out of cash. Important to understand why:

First: High burn rate kills your ability to adapt as you learn & as market changes. Co becomes unwieldy, too big to easily change course.

Second: Hiring people is easy; layoffs are devastating. Hiring for startups is effectively one way street. Again, can’t change once stuck.

Third: Your managers get trained and incented ONLY to hire, as answer to every question. Company bloats & becomes badly run at same time.

Fourth: Lots of people, big shiny office, high expense base = Fake “we’ve made it!” feeling. Removes pressure to deliver real results.

Fifth: More people multiplies communication overhead exponentially, slows everything down. Company bogs down, becomes bad place to work.

Sixth: Raising new money becomes harder & harder. You have bigger bulldog to feed, need more and more $ at higher and higher valuations.

Therefore you take on escalating risk of a catastrophic down round. High-cash-burn startups almost never survive down rounds. VAPORIZE.

Further, to get into this position, you probably had to raise too much $ at too high valuation before; escalates down round risk further.

Seventh: Even if you CAN raise an up round, you are increasingly likely to incur terrible structural terms like ratchets to chin the bar.

That nice hedge fund investor willing to hit your valuation bar? Imagine him owning 80% of co after down round. How nice will he be then?

Eighth: When market turns, M&A mostly stops. Nobody will want to buy your cash-incinerating startup. There will be no Plan B. VAPORIZE.

Finally, there are exceptions to all this. But if you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly not one. They are few and far between.

Source: https://genius.com/Marc-andreessen-burn-rate-annotated

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Challenges of Venture Capital

“Why isn’t this just hypocritical VCs overfunding reckless founders of out-of-control startups?”

In fairness, there is probably some of that, though we & the investors we respect try hard not to indulge recklessness & irresponsibility.

But while it’s irresponsible to vaporize cash & your company, it can also be irresponsible to NOT invest to become #1 in a big new market. Particularly now, since there are SO many more people on the Internet & SO many more businesses that can consume cloud/SAAS vs 15 yrs ago.

Tension: Overinvest, escalate burn, risk down round, vaporize when market turns; OR Underinvest, starve growth, don’t win market, implode.

Why is this so important? In tech-driven markets, overwhelming economic returns tend to go to the company with the highest market share. And, the winning company with the highest market share can invest the most in R&D, build the best and most advanced products. The prize.

Via Glengarry Glen Ross: Reward for market position #1 is 90% of the economic value. #2, a set of steak knives. #3, you’re fired.

The challenge for CEOs and boards of tech startups is to thread the needle, just enough investment to take the #1 position, but not more.

Meeting this challenge has resulted in thousands of venture-capital-backed companies creating millions of jobs over last 50 years.

This challenge becomes far harder when money is flowing freely, since more competitors get funded. Very tricky. Requires deep judgment. BUT opting out of the race generally guarantees you won’t be #1 or even #2. Not a good idea either. Just as serious a risk as blowing up. No single answer. Up to VCs, CEOs, boards, and later-round investors to think very carefully about this for each specific circumstance.

Source: https://a16z.com/2014/09/26/pmarca-tweetstorm-defense-of-large-rounds-of-funding-for-startups/

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Common Fallacies with Tech Valuation

  1. A few common fallacies about valuation of public and private technology companies:
  2. First, ask any MBA how to value tech companies, she’ll say discounted cash flow, just like any other company: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discounted_cash_flow
  3. Problem: For new & rapidly growing tech co’s, up to 100% of value is in terminal value 10+ years out, so DCF framework collapses.
  4. You can run as many DCF spreadsheets as you want and may get nothing that will help you make good tech investment decisions.
  5. Related to fact that tech co’s don’t have stable products like soup or brick companies; future cash flows will come from future products.
  6. Instead, smart tech investor thinks about: A future product roadmap/opp’y, B bottoms-up market size & growth, C talent and skill of team.
  7. Essentially you are valuing things that have not yet happened, and the likelihood of the CEO and team being able to make them happen.
  8. Finance people find this appalling, but investors who do this well can make a lot of money, but spreadsheet investing is often disastrous.
  9. Doesn’t mean cash flow doesn’t matter, in fact opposite: this is the path to find tech companies that will generate tons of future cash.
  10. Corollary: For tech companies, current cash flow is usually useless for forecasting future cash flow–lagging not leading indicator.
  11. This trips up value investors (Prem Watsa!) all the time; tech companies with high cash flows often about to fall off a cliff.
  12. Because current cash flows are based on past products not future products. And profitability often breeds complacence and bureaucracy.
  13. Always, always, always, the substance is what matters: WHO and WHAT. WHO’s building the products, and WHAT products are they building.
  14. Brand will not save you, marketing will not save you, channels will not save you, account control will not save you. It’s the products.
  15. Which goes right back to the start: Who are the people, what are the products, and how big is the market. That’s the formula.

Source: https://pmarcasays.golaun.ch/2014/04/17/common-fallacies-about-the-valuation-of-public-and-private-technology-companies/

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Creativity

“Creativity is a collaborative exercise between the creator and the audience”.  You can create an excellent work of art (in your mind), but if the audience doesn’t creatively see eye to eye with you, they won’t appreciate it.  “The entrepreneur who expects the market to automatically appreciate their product….it’s the classic, ‘If I build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to my door,’ – no they won’t. “The world is BUSY… People don’t wake up in the morning and say, “God, I can’t wait until I find out what this person I’ve never heard of in California has invented. That’s not how the world works. You have to inject yourself into the world.”

Source: https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/the-moment-with/marc-andreessen-31219-wmj6EfVeDM0/

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Dealing With Past Failures

There’s an old sales slogan, “If you can’t avoid it, feature it.” Tell a story about how you worked your way through different ideas before you got to the one that works—the one you have now. By doing so, you can convey your level of determination and ability to react to changing circumstances—both valuable traits in a founder.

The thing to definitely not do is “hide the ball.” It is a very bad idea to not tell potential investors about negative things that you know they would want to know. In addition to the ethical considerations, there is a very real practical consideration—investors almost always learn the truth, through their diligence work and reference checks. When an investor realizes in diligence that a founder has hid the ball on bad news in the past, it creates the concern that the founder will hide the ball on bad news in the future—that the founder can’t be trusted. It is much better to be the founder who is up front, crisp, and articulate on bad things that have happened in the past and what you’ve learned as a result!

Source: https://stripe.com/atlas/guides/ama-marc-andreessen

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Disruption Theory

Few intellectual concepts in our time have been mangled by observers more than Clay Christensen’s disruption idea. Some thoughts: CC: “A disruptive innovation gives new consumers access to product historically only available to consumers with a lot of money or skill.” CC: “Disruptors offer a different set of product attributes valued only in new markets remote from, and unimportant to, the mainstream.” The key attribute of disruptive innovation is a new product for a previously underserved market–typically cheaper than existing product. This is inherently pro-consumer: Disruptive innovation only works if customers buy it–and if they do, lives improved vs prior status quo. Similar, disruptive innovation is only funded by investors who believe underserved market exists, customers will buy it, lives improved. It’s a fabricated myth that disruptive innovation is about destruction: It’s about creation–new products, new choices, for more people. Later, of course, new product often evolves to squarely take on incumbents serving established customers–cheaper & better for them too! Disruptive innovation shrinks inequality, by bringing to lower-income consumers things that only richer consumers had access to before. If you are reading this, many of the things you own that make your life better are the result of prior disruptive innovation. Printing press disrupted books from scribes; recorded music disrupted live concerts in homes, washing machines disrupted live-in maids. Rich people always had books, music, clean clothes, etc.; disruptive innovation made these things available to many more people. In exact same way, sub-$50 smartphones as disruptive innovation to PCs bringing computing & Internet to far more people than status quo. To be FOR disruption is to be FOR consumer choice, FOR more people bring served, and FOR shrinking inequality. To be AGAINST disruption is to be AGAINST consumer choice, AGAINST more people bring served, and AGAINST shrinking inequality. If we want to make the world a better and more equal place–the more Christensen-style disruption, and the faster, the better! References: http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

Source: http://tweetstorm.io/user/pmarca/539830535816626176

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Don’t Fetishize Failure

“The number-one theme that companies have when they really struggle is they are not charging enough for their product. It has become conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley that the way to succeed is to price your product as low as possible, under the theory that if it’s low-priced, everybody can buy it, and that’s how you get to volume,” he said. “And we just see over and over and over again people failing with that, because they get into a problem called ‘too hungry to eat.’ They don’t charge enough for their product to be able to afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it. Is your product any good if people won’t pay more for it?”

Source: Timothy Ferriss. “Tools of Titans.” Apple Books.

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Don’t Overestimate the People on Pedestals

“The number-one theme that companies have when they really struggle is they are not charging enough for their product. It has become conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley that the way to succeed is to price your product as low as possible, under the theory that if it’s low-priced, everybody can buy it, and that’s how you get to volume,” he said. “And we just see over and over and over again people failing with that, because they get into a problem called ‘too hungry to eat.’ They don’t charge enough for their product to be able to afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it. Is your product any good if people won’t pay more for it?”

Source: Timothy Ferriss. “Tools of Titans.” Apple Books.

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Ethics

I think that it is always important, in life and work, to have a sense of the ethical impact on one’s actions and output. Virtually all of the actually capable startup founders I know think deeply about the ethical aspects of their businesses, contrary to whatever outside commentators might say.

That said, history shows that it is particularly difficult to forecast either the benefits or downsides of new technology. The most classic example is nuclear weapons—many of the inventors of nuclear technology had justifiably serious concerns over how their work would be used. And yet, nuclear weapons not only helped end World War II and almost certainly saved lives on net for both the US and Japan, a case can be made that the existence of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence prevented a catastrophic third world war between the US and USSR that could have killed hundreds of millions of people in the decades following WWII.

I think based on this and many other examples, we should be very cautious at forecasting negative implications of new technologies—sometimes the forecasts are correct, but more often they simply show a lack of imagination and foresight as to the positive benefits to come.

Source: https://stripe.com/atlas/guides/ama-marc-andreessen

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Fallacy of Doomful AI

It’s the Promethean fallacy. There is something deep seeded in human psychology where we are always going to invent the thing that’s going to kill us. Fundamentally, we’re going to unlock the power of the Gods. It goes back to the Promethean myth. It’s almost like the concept of original sin. It’s like fire. The big moral of the Promethean myth was fire is the thing that enabled him, and civilization is also the thing that’s going to burn everything down and kill us all.

This is very deeply embedded in our psychology. Frankenstein. The subtitle of the novel, the subtitle was The Modern Prometheus. Frankenstein was a reinterpretation of the Promethean myth, except, in this case, it was literally the monster that was stitched together and then brought back to life through, literally, unholy science. And then, there are even religious versions of it. In Jewish literature, there’s the concept of the golem, which is the creature made out of mud that rises up out of the ghettos of Warsaw or something to kill all of the enemies and then come back, and then, it kills all of the people who created it.

So this is very kind of core – John Henry, the steel driving man. John Henry is the famous song or the sort of story about the railroad worker. And there’s the machine that can hammer in the railroad spikes faster than a human can. And John Henry’s famous showdown between him and the machine. And of course, he wins and then drops dead of a heart attack. And it’s critical in the myth that he drops dead of a heart attack because technology has to get its revenge.

And so it’s just that projected forward. And the reason I’m so confident on this is because it’s just every single era of technological advance, this has always been the response. There’s always been this line of thinking. And then, it turns out it’s a tool. It’s a technology. It’s a tool. It’s something that helps us do things in a better way. It’s overwhelmingly to the benefit of mankind. And then, we wonder why everybody got so worked up over it.

Source: https://tim.blog/2018/01/01/the-tim-ferriss-show-transcripts-marc-andreessen/

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Figuring Out Best Ideas

“How do you figure out who has not just the best idea but the best way to execute it when you are dealing with some really young, inexperienced technologists…We call this the volcano movie problem. There’s never just one movie about volcanos. There’s always two or three or four or five or six. There’s never just one giant robot movie. There’s never just one killer meteor movie. There has to be two. That’s the thing. These ideas come in waves and so that’s exactly what happens…One of the ones we dig into hard to try to pull what we call the real founders away from the people who think they have an idea and want to try something — the concept we call the idea maze. One of our partners, Chris Dixon wrote a paper on Balaji Srinivasan’s idea called ‘The Idea Maze.’ So the idea maze is — it appears on the surface, look this is a cool idea and lots of people have this idea — the really good founders have thought about the problem so deeply and for so long that they have worked their way through the logic maze of how to try the idea and what they’re going to try next if it doesn’t work and what the implications would be if they learned something and who are the people they need to bring into the company and how do they segment the market and how do they go acquire the customers — all these details.”

Source: https://medium.com/@zachullman/transcript-a16zs-marc-andreessen-with-barry-ritholtz-masters-in-business-4e3c1a2e8426

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Future of Economic Development

  1. Since people asked, a quick summary of my own views about economic development over the next several decades:
  2. We need a lot more economic growth for the benefit of everyone, including and especially for lower-income people here and everywhere.
  3. We also need a lot more technological advancement and productivity improvements for the benefit of everyone, again including the poorest.
  4. Further, the good news story of our time is the global rise of billions of people out of poverty. We need this to continue, not reverse.
  5. Theories and policies that push us backwards toward more stasis, stagnation, and statism are both counterproductive and immoral.
  6. None of this is to dismiss the wrenching consequences that individuals may experience during a time of rapid economic change.
  7. For that reason, it is both sensible and moral to couple full-throttle technological capitalism with a strong, rigorous social safety net.
  8. And in fact, rapid economic growth and technological progress is precisely what makes a strong, rigorous social safety net affordable.
  9. We can in fact have our cake and eat it too. Last 500 years have clearly shown that democratic capitalism is a non-zero-sum phenomenon.

Source: http://tweetstorm.io/user/pmarca/470318656321093632

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Generosity

  1. One of the special things about our industry is how intellectually generous many of the leading participants are (no, I don’t mean me :-).
  2. When I arrived in Silicon Valley in Jan 1994, I sought out all of the written material I could on startups & venture capital.
  3. I found exactly two books. An excellent but dry financial analysis of startup returns, and an excellent but dated book by Gordon Bell.
  4. So then I looked for magazines, and found exactly one: Red Herring. Which for several years was the best magazine about startups.
  5. But, in 1994, Red Herring was ~8 (?) memographed pages, cost $12 (?), published every 2 months (?), & available at only a few newsstands.
  6. That was it. I knew there was more material at Stanford & Harvard business schools but I couldn’t get to it. There was nothing else.
  7. Today, 20 years later, the difference is *profound*. Many of the leading theorists & practitioners share *huge* amounts of info for free.
  8. That’s a big difference in SV, but what I hear every day from people all over the world=what a big difference it’s making everywhere else.
  9. A 14-year-old kid in Indonesia w/smartphone has access to 10,000x more info on tech & startups today than I did in Palo Alto 20 years ago.
  10. And the cycle is closing: there is startlingly profound new thinking happening all over the world & coming right back to Silicon Valley.
  11. In our industry, it’s hard to underestimate the consequences of a positive feedback loop — and this is a positive feedback loop.
  12. Assumption *must* be: Tech entrepreneurship all over the world is going to expand a thousand fold in the next 20 years. How could it not?

Source: http://tweetstorm.io/user/pmarca/479753876543774720

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Ideas

“Stop being afraid to tell people your ideas. IIf you have a really, really great idea you can shout it to the rafters and still no one’s going to take it seriously. The idea of the iPhone alone didn’t get Steve Jobs anywhere. It was everything he did to make the idea a reality and actually get it into peoples’ hands.

How much can you actually know?….I would take it so far as to say I don’t know that there actually are VCs who can predict if any given thing is going to succeed or fail, period, full stop, including us. I’m not sure that’s even part of the value we provide. That might literally be zero part of our contribution to the entire process”

Source: https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/the-moment-with/marc-andreessen-31219-wmj6EfVeDM0/

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Internet’s Missing Feature

Only a handful of people know that the big missing feature from the web browser – the feature that was supposed to be in from the start but didn’t make it – is the ability to annotate any page on the Internet with commentary and additional information.

Back in 1993, when Eric Bina and I were first building Mosaic, it seemed obvious to us that users would want to annotate all text on the web – our idea was that each web page would be a launchpad for insight and debate about its own contents. So we built a feature called “group annotations” right into the browser – and it worked great – all users could comment on any page and discussions quickly ensued. Unfortunately, our implementation at that time required a server to host all the annotations, and we didn’t have the time to properly build that server, which would obviously have had to scale to enormous size. And so we dropped the entire feature.

Source: https://genius.com/Marc-andreessen-why-andreessen-horowitz-is-investing-in-rap-genius-annotated

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Pitfalls of Thinking in the Future

“You can go wrong in a few ways. One is that the future is too far away, so you might be right on substance but you’ll be wrong on timing. The other is that the future is here, but everyone else is already doing it.

It’s like surfing. The goal is to catch a big wave. If you think a big wave is coming, you paddle really hard. Sometimes there’s actually no wave, and that sucks.

But you can’t just wait to be sure there’s a wave before you start paddling. You’ll miss it entirely. You have to paddle early, and then let the wave catch you. The question is, how do you figure out when the next big wave is likely to come?

It’s a hard question. At the margins, it’s better err on the side of paddling where there’s no wave than paddling too late and missing a good wave. Trying to start the next great social networking company is current wave thinking. You can paddle hard, but you’ve missed it. Social networking is not the next wave. So the bias should be to err toward the future. Then again, the bigger bias should be to not err at all.”

Source: https://blakemasters.com/post/22660214207/peter-thiels-cs183-startup-class-10-notes

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Raising Prices

“The number-one theme that companies have when they really struggle is they are not charging enough for their product. It has become conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley that the way to succeed is to price your product as low as possible, under the theory that if it’s low-priced, everybody can buy it, and that’s how you get to volume,” he said. “And we just see over and over and over again people failing with that, because they get into a problem called ‘too hungry to eat.’ They don’t charge enough for their product to be able to afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it. Is your product any good if people won’t pay more for it?”

Source: Timothy Ferriss. “Tools of Titans.” Apple Books.

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Strength vs. Lack of Weakness

“Internally, we have this concept, invest in strength versus lack of weakness. And at first that is obvious, but it’s actually fairly subtle. Which is sort of the default way to do venture capital is to check boxes. So really good founder, really good idea, really good products, really good initial customers. Check, check, check, check. Okay this is reasonable, I’ll put money in it. What you find with those sort of checkbox deals, and they get done all the time, but what you find is that they often don’t have something that really makes them really remarkable and special. They don’t have an extreme strength that makes them an outlier.

On the other side of that, the companies that have the really extreme strengths often have serious flaws. So one of the cautionary lessons of venture capital is, if you don’t invest in the bases with serious flaws, you don’t invest in most of the big winners. And we can go through example after example after example of that. But that would have ruled out almost all the big winners over time. So what we aspire to do is to invest in the startups that have a really extreme strength. Along an important dimension, that we would be willing to tolerate certain weaknesses.”

Source: https://genius.com/Marc-andreessen-lecture-9-how-to-raise-money-annotated

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Strong Opinions Loosely Held

“So it’s kind of a mentality around how to start a company for sure. And it’s a mentality of how to invest for sure. And I think it’s a mentality that’s probably helpful in a lot of other areas of life. And so it’s kind of this – I’m drawn to paradoxes. So I’m drawn to kind of the philosophical term, it’s like a thesis, antithesis, synthesis kind of thing because a lot of people in the Valley have very strong theories. And then, the problem is they carry them too far. There’s [inaudible], so yin and yang kind of thing. And so strong views are very important. Most people go through life and, basically, never develop strong views on things or specifically go along and, basically, buy into the consensus.

And so one of the things I think you want to look for as both a founder and as an investor is you want to look for things that are out of consensus. So something very much opposed to the conventional wisdom, which sounds easy, hard to do, but you want to try to do it. And then, if you’re going to start a company around that, if you’re going to invest in that, you better have strong conviction because you’re making a very big bet of time or money or both. The problem is it’s a strong view, great. What happens when the world changes? What happens when something else happens?

And the way the world works kind of in business and investing and other places is just when you think you have everything figured that everything changes. So the sort of system evolves, and things happen. And so what do you do when the world changes? And there what you just see everywhere, I think, in the world and everywhere in business, everywhere investing are people just hate changing their minds. You see it in politics all the time as well. People just get locked into a point of view on things.

And then, you get all of these biases like confirmation bias where people feel like they have to – well, it’s the thing in politics where flip flopping is viewed as bad, right?

So take, as an example, politician who flip flops is viewed as bad and weak and probably evil. Actually, it’s interesting. If you talk to the world’s best hedge fund managers, they’re the exact opposite. They love changing their mind. I’m one of the few people who will openly admit I love spending time with hedge fund managers. I think they’re awesome.

They’re fantastic people. And they are the most open minded people I know. And they love when you tell them that they’re wrong. They get all excited, and their eyes light up. And they’re like why? Why do you think that? And they’re genuinely interested because if you’re right and they’re wrong, they will change their minds. And they’re hedge fund managers, so they’ll literally reverse the trade. If they’re long in a company, they’ll flip around and go short on it. They’re totally fine with that. And that’s how it works. And so what I carry away from that is it’s the weakly held part, which is convicted, convicted, convicted, new facts, change.

But it’s a paradox or it’s attention because it’s determination coupled with flexibility like they’re antithetical. What you see in the startup world are sort of these two kinds of advice then that express this.

And there are people who, with a straight face, will give both of these forms of advice without ever acknowledging they’re in conflict. One of which is fail fast. You want to fail fast. It’s great to fail. You want to discover what’s wrong. You want to fail and do something different. And then, the other is you have to be determined, and you can’t give up. Like how do you possibly reconcile those? And my view of that is that’s where you get the strong view is weakly held.”

Source: https://tim.blog/2018/01/01/the-tim-ferriss-show-transcripts-marc-andreessen/

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Success is a Question of When, Not If

“A thing I believe that few believe: Almost all Silicon Valley startup ideas from qualified founders = great ideas. But some are too early. Track startups over multiple decades, what you find is that most ideas do end up working. It’s much more a question of “when” not “if”. This is interesting for several reasons. First, it means that criticism of the form “that will never happen” is usually misguided & wrong. Second, it means that a much bigger risk for founders is “too early”, vs “wrong” or “too late”. Often doesn’t match feedback from others. To quote Peter Thiel, it is often better to be the last company to market (hit timing right & take down the entire market) vs the first. Third, when you have the timing right, you almost always feel like you’re too late. Terrified you’ve missed the window = great sign.When idea X has been in the air, with repeated attempts to build X, yet most customers are not yet doing/using X, it’s never too late. Fourth, founders by definition live in the future, see a world that doesn’t yet exist & try to make it so. Nailing timing = hardest thing. Which is often why more pragmatic founders end up building the big & important companies — the idealists were just too early. Fifth, therefore, most of the great ideas for the next two decades are already known. In labs, in failed startups, in big co prototypes. Those ideas are being dismissed now since the early attempts have’t worked. This has the opposite predictive value vs what people think. Quoting @GreatDismal, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed — or it’s not yet distributed at all. But it is here. The key question is: What ideas are widely dismissed today due to having been tried & failed? Answer is the codex to the next 20 years.”

Source: https://medium.com/@pmarca/success-is-a-question-of-when-not-if-bd1f97580360

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Tech and Income Inequality

Technology innovation disproportionately helps the poor more than it helps the rich, as the poor spend more of their income on products.

This sounds like it must be a controversial and politically charged position, and yet it is not — it flows from basic economics.

The best way to understand this is by historical example: What the rich used to have and what the poor now have, due to tech innovation.

Rich have always been able to pay servants to wash dishes; due to tech change, now most US homes have automatic dishwashers.

Rich have always been able to pay servants to wash and dry clothes; now most US homes have automated washers and dryers.

Rich were able to afford to have fresh ice delivered daily to make iceboxes work; now all American homes have refrigerators.

Rich were always able to afford to hire musicians to play in their homes; now audio equipment and digital music are cheap for everyone.

Technology innovation is the main process by which luxury items become produced, packaged, and made affordable for everyone.

Opposing tech innovation is punishing the poor by slowing the process by which they get things previously only affordable to the rich.

Source: https://genius.com/Marc-andreessen-tweets-on-tech-and-income-inequality-annotated

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Additional Resources

A debate of two of the greatest minds of our generation. Need I say more?

Marc’s writing in longer form. So many gems! I would recommend starting with this article
https://pmarchive.com/

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Takeaways From Naval Ravikant EHF New Frontiers Interviews

Recently, founder and investor Naval Ravikant spoke at the EHF New Frontiers conference in New Zealand. Attached are the interviews and my notes from them

Computers

  • Computers are the most powerful tool ever created
  • “Knowing how to be good with computers is the modern literacy. It’s the new reading, writing, and arithmetic”
  • Everyone being computer literate would raise wages across the board in other professions because of Baumol’s Cost Disease (you have to pay someone their opportunity cost of what else they could be doing, not necessarily what they are doing)
  • Tech literacy is defined as having a higher fear threshold to experiment in tech

Silicon Valley

  • Silicon Valley is not a place that creates entrepreneurs, wealth, and technology. It is a place that attracts them

Immigration Policy

  • “Intelligent immigration policy is the largest wealth creator in the world”

Destructive Nature of Technology

  • It’s the nature of technology that the destructive power arrives before the creative power
  • You get to have a nuclear weapon before a safe functioning nuclear plant
  • The relative capabilities of technology are unlimited, whereas the destructive ones are limited (since you are aware of the single possible outcome when you destroy something)

Hero Worship of the Entrepreneur

  • Cult/worship of entrepreneurship is a natural human mechanism but can be dangerous
  • You should use an entrepreneur as a source of inspiration, but not as a source of truth.

Blockchains

  • Three base blockchains
    • Bitcoin – optimized for security and decentralization
    • Ethereum – optimized for programmability
    • Privacy coins – optimized for privacy
  • Interesting Concepts/Thought Experiments
    • Zero-Knowledge Proofs will be important (system for providing proof of knowledge without disclosing confidential data)
    • A WiFi coin. Anyone can access WiFi by paying a small token cost. High speed WiFi will be available everywhere
    • Country could buy up cryptocurrency, then establish it as legal tender. This would create a Schelling Point
    • The upside of the winners is so large that waiting for consensus could not reap the same benefits

Investing

  • You want to be non-consensus right when investing to have disproportionately high outcomes
  • In order to distinguish the successful outcomes from the crazy one, you have to run the race

Problems and Solutions in the Modern World

  • Signaling virtue is a vice for numerous reasons
  • We have become desensitized to the horrors such as death, and over-sensitized by the news cycle
  • Ways to increase consciousness haven’t changed, but ways to access these methods have with technology
  • The internet allows you regardless of how weird or odd or specific you are to find your tribe

Competition

  • Competition is not a reality. It tries to suck you in. To see, try this: think of any human being in your life, if this person was not in your life who would be the substitute and provide the same insights, etc. The answer is nobody
  • Competing establishes a similarity to one another that doesn’t actually exist
  • Competition is real in status games such as politics and sports, but not when it comes to creating new things
  • All the great endeavors in life are creative

Distribution of Capital/Ending the Wealth Gap

  • Adult education is the way to end the wealth gap technology creates
  • What if every four years, you went back to school for a year? Then 45 year olds wouldn’t lose their jobs and become useless

Advice For Non-Profits

  • Become profitable so you don’t have to beg for funding money