Marc Andreessen talks fast. And so when the Andreessen Horowitz co-founder sat down for a conversation with The New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin at Dealbook’s Opportunities for Tomorrow conference, he covered a lot of ground, from the fiscal cliff to higher education, the future of English majors, newspapers and self-driving cars, and other topics our fingers weren’t fast enough to keep up with.
On the fiscal cliff: “The last thing we want is for all the politicians to get together and figure out a grand solution,” Mr. Andreessen said. “The last time we all agreed on anything, we got into the war on Iraq.”
On government regulation: “If there’s regulation or unions, the entire venture capitalist class in California totally avoids it,” he said.
On education: “I think it bifurcates, it’s bifurcating now, and technology is going to cause it to bifurcate further. Government or union run education, on one hand, is horrible and getting worse.” But online schools offer great opportunities.
On English majors: “Anything that involves math, quantitative skills, computers—I think that’s going to set people up really well. A degree in English, I’m sure it’s fun to get the degree. But the average graduate from the average college is going to be working in a shoe store.”
On scotch: “I have tons of opinions on the IPO,” Mr. Andreessen said about Facebook’s public offering, before noting that as a board member it was inappropriate to hold forth publicly. “There’s Johnny Walker Blue in the green room. If you’d let me drink that before, I’d tell you everything I think.”
On Hewlett-Packard, on whose board Mr. Andreessen also serves: That might take a whole bottle, he said.
Is it a tech bubble? Mr. Andreessen said that we’re experiencing the opposite of a tech bubble, what he called a “tech depression,” where investors are fearful of technology stocks. “The big dogs are trading at generational lows, Cisco and Dell and Microsoft and Oracle and on and on. The public market hates tech,” he said, adding: “I think we’re still dealing with broken trust from the 2000 crash.” Also: “The level of cynicism among investors, and entrepreneurs, is very strong.”
On Google: He said that the company was trading at “crazy lows,” with investors valuing the company on the strength of its search business, essentially treating YouTube, Android and Chrome as worthless propositions.
On self-driving cars: “I can’t wait.”
On newspapers:the future of print: “Today,” he said when asked when the New York Times should stop publishing a paper edition. “As soon as possible.” Fast forward 20 years, he said, and online is going to be 100 percent of the news market. “It’s not that you can’t make money in print, it’s not that there aren’t people who want it. But is your organization able to be on offense and take the future?” Many news outlets, he said, are spending too much time playing defense. It’s not all bad news. “The global market opportunity for media is growing exponentially,” it may be 100 times larger in years to come. “The question is, how do you get to the online format?”