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Marc Andreessen

Marc Andreessen, born on July 9, 1971, is an American businessman and software engineer. He co-authored Mosaic, the first widely used web browser with a graphical user interface, and co-founded Netscape. He is a Co-founder and General Partner at , a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Andreesen also founded Opsware, later sold to Hewlett-Packard, and co-founded Ning, a platform for social networking websites. [1][2][22]

Early Life & Education

Born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and raised in New Lisbon, Wisconsin[24], Andreessen earned his bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in December 1993. During his undergraduate years, he interned twice at IBM in Austin, Texas, contributing to AIX graphics software development and gaining experience with 3D language APIs. [25][26]

He also worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at UIUC, where he familiarized himself with Tim Berners-Lee's open standards for the World Wide Web. Encountering the ViolaWWW graphic web browser in late 1992, Andreessen, alongside a colleague Eric Bina, embarked on creating the Mosaic web browser released in 1993. The Mosaic web browser featured integrated graphics and compatibility with various computer systems, including Windows. [25]

Career

Netscape

After earning a bachelor's degree in computer science in 1993, Andreessen relocated to Silicon Valley, California, where he joined a small company specializing in security products for electronic commerce. He was later approached by James Clark, founder and former president of Silicon Graphics, Inc., who sought a new venture. [3]

Together, they founded Mosaic Communications Corporation in April 1994 (later renamed Netscape Communications). Andreessen enlisted the original creators of Mosaic and embarked on developing a powerful software initially named Mozilla (Mosaic Killer). This software launched commercially as Netscape Navigator, dominated the web browser market, capturing over 75% of the market share by mid-1996. [3]

Netscape's primary goal was to facilitate global information exchange for individuals and businesses. As vice president of technology, Andreessen played a pivotal role in shaping the company's technical direction, anticipating the transformative impact of the impending "bandwidth tidal wave" on the wireless communications industry. In 1996, Netscape reported revenues of $55 million, coinciding with Andreessen's appearance on the cover of Time magazine.

Netscape was acquired in 1999 for $4.3 billion by AOL (America Online, Inc.). Andreessen's hiring as its chief technology officer was contingent on the completion of the acquisition. The same year, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35. [3]

Opsware

Following AOL's acquisition of Netscape in late 1998, Andreessen co-founded Opsware with , Tim Howes, and In Sik Rhee. Originally known as Loudcloud, the company provided computing, hosting, and software services to consumer-facing internet and e-commerce companies. Loudcloud later sold its hosting division to EDS and rebranded as Opsware in 2003, with Andreessen assuming the role of Chairman. [4]

In 2007, Hewlett-Packard acquired Opsware for $1.6 billion, making it one of the pioneers in software as a service and cloud hosting. [4]

Ning

In October 2004, Andreessen and Gina Bianchini established Ning, a social networking platform allowing users to create personalized networks based on their interests, with Andreessen serving as chairman of the company. In September 2011, Marc Andreessen announced that Glam Media was buying the social network with Marc joining Glam’s board as part of the deal and the final price remained undisclosed. [5][3]

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)

Between 2005 and 2009, Andreessen and longtime business partner  separately invested a total of $80 million in 45 start-ups that included Twitter and Qik. The two became well-known as super angel investors. On July 6, 2009, Andreessen and saw an opportunity to create a venture capital firm and announced their Silicon Valley venture capital firm, with the backing of influential Silicon Valley figures such as Ron Conway and Peter Thiel. [6]

They started with the mission statement:

"We are Andreesen Horowitz and we are 100% focused on helping the greatest tech entrepreneurs build the best tech companies". [6]

Early Investment & Notable Successes

Facebook

In 2010, a year after its founding, Andreessen Horowitz invested $80 million in Facebook. At the time, Facebook was already a social media giant but this investment was proof of the firm's vision and willingness to bet on tech companies with growth potential. [7]

Twitter

In 2011, Andreessen Horowitz alongside other investors provided $80 million in funding to Twitter (now X). This investment helped Twitter expand and solidify its position as a global social media platform. [7]

Airbnb

Andreessen Horowitz made an investment of $112 million in Airbnb in 2011. At the time, Airbnb was a leading company in the hospitality industry and this investment was a necessary capital for the company to grow and scale its operations worldwide.

Other Investments

The firm also made early investments in companies like LinkedIn, Slack, GitHub, Okta, , Instabase, Pinterest, Groupon, etc. [7]

a16z crypto

 is a media resource hosted on YouTube. It is a definitive channel for news and information in the  and  space. With over 10.5K subscribers and 185 videos, it provides overviews and insights from researchers, demos from developers and engineers, and more from product builders and creators. a16z is also hosted across podcast channels like Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc. [23]

Industry Influence

Marc Andreessen advises the leaders of companies where invests, including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Mark Pincus of Zynga. [8]

Andreessen and Horowitz were ranked No. 6 on Vanity Fair's 2011 New Establishment List, No. 1 on CNET's 2011 Most Influential Investors list, and Nos. 2 and 21, respectively, on the 2012 Forbes Midas List of Tech's Top Investors. [2][9][10]

In April 2012, Andreessen and General Partners , Peter Levine, Jeff Jordan, John O'Farrell, and Scott Weiss pledged to donate half of their lifetime incomes from venture capital to charitable organizations. [11]

On April 18, 2012, Andreessen was named in the Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world assembled by Time. His essay "Software is Eating the World" has been influential and highly cited. [12]

In 2013, Andreessen was one of five Internet and Web pioneers awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. [13]

In April 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Andreessen published an opinion article, "It's time to build", describing the United States COVID-19 response and suggesting technological and cultural solutions to the problem. [14]

In October 2023, Andreessen published a Techno-Optimist Manifesto arguing that civilization was built on technology, and that;

"Technology is the glory of human ambition and achievement, the spearhead of progress, and the realization of our potential".[15]

"The techno-capital machine makes natural selection work for us in the realm of ideas. The best and most productive ideas win, and are combined and generate even better ideas. Those ideas materialize in the real world as technologically enabled goods and services that never would have emerged de novo." [15]

Ventures

Andreessen is a personal investor in companies including LinkedIn and boutique bank Raine. [16]

He serves on the board of Meta, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Kno, Stanford Hospital, Bump Technologies, Anki, Oculus VR[17], OpenGov, Dialpad, and TinyCo. Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced in February 2018 that board member Andreessen would not seek reelection at the 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders on April 4, 2018. In his time at Hewlett Packard, Andreessen had been partially blamed for some of the company's failures, including the recruiting of Leo Apotheker as well as the acquisitions of Autonomy and Palm. [18]

Marc Andreessen is an Advisor to Asana and holds a director position at CollabNet. Known for his advocacy of [20], he also sits on an advisory board for Neom, the Saudi Arabian government's initiative to develop a futuristic megacity in the desert. [19]

"Bitcoin is a digital currency, whose value is based directly on two things: use of the payment system today – volume and velocity of payments running through the ledger – and speculation on future use of the payment system. This is one part that is confusing people. It’s not as much that the Bitcoin currency has some arbitrary value and then people are trading with it; it’s more that people can trade with Bitcoin (anywhere, everywhere, with no fraud and no or very low fees) and as a result it has value." - Andreessen wrote in January 2014[20]

Controversy

In February 2016, Andreessen posted a tweet in response to India's decision to apply net neutrality to Facebook's proposed project Free Basics. The tweet suggested that anti-colonialism had been catastrophic for the Indian people. [21]

Andreessen later deleted the tweet following criticism from Indians and non-Indians alike (including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg). Facebook spent millions advertising Free Basics to the Indian public. The project failed due to violations, setting preferential tariffs in accessing content and setting up a "walled garden" on the internet. [21]

Views on AI

Marc Andreessen believes that Artificial Intelligence is going to be completely transformative for education. [27]

"I actually think there’s a pretty good prospect that kids are just going to pick this up and run with it. I actually think that’s already happening, right? ChatGPT is fully out, and Bard and Bing and all these other things. I think kids are going to grow up with basically — you could use various terms, assistant, friend, coach, mentor, tutor, but kids are going to grow up in this amazing back-and-forth relationship with AI."[27]

On AI's impact on education and the workforce, Andreessen does not believe it is worth it trying to block kids from using tools like ChatGPT for essay writing. [28]

"Ultimately, AI companies are becoming too embedded in everyday life for this old-school resistance to work."

"It's not just about the degree: College may be the right choice for some, but equally promising pathways exist. Skills, portfolios, and real-world expertise matter tremendously. Focus on what you offer beyond any single piece of paper."[28]

He also wrote an essay on 'Why AI Won't Cause Unemployment' citing reasons based on licensing and regulation. In the essay, he wrote:

Overtime, the prices of regulated, non-technological products rise; the prices of less regulated, technologically-powered products fall. Which eats the economy? The regulated sectors continuously grow as a percentage of GDP; the less regulated sectors shrink. At the limit, 99% of the economy will be the regulated, non-technological sectors, which is precisely where we are headed. [29]

Therefore AI cannot cause overall unemployment to rise, even if the Luddite arguments are right this time. AI is simply already illegal across most of the economy, soon to be virtually all of the economy. [29]

Andreessen also believes that open-source AI is important for national security. [30]

it is really hard to do security without open source - he stated

He advocates for putting code in public and then building the code in such a way that when it runs, the code remains secure no matter who has access. he believes that having more eyes on the code is an avenue to uncover problems within and solve them quickly.

In general, open source has turned out to be much more secure. I would start there. If we want secure systems, I think this is what we have to do. [27]

See something wrong? Report to us.

Marc Andreessen

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Edited On

April 16, 2024

Reason for edit:

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