My dinner with Andreessen

My dinner with Andreessen

Rick Perlstein writes:

Recently, I read about venture capitalist Marc Andreessen putting his 12,000-square-foot mansion in Atherton, California, which has seven fireplaces, up for sale for $33.75 million. This was done to spend more time, one supposes, at the $177 million home he owns in Paradise Cove, California; or the $34 million one he bought beside it; or the $44.5 million one in a place called Escondido Beach. Upon reading this, I realized it was time to stop procrastinating and tell you all a story I’ve been meaning to set down for a long time now about the time I visited that house (the cheap $33.75 million one, I mean). Strictly on a need-to-know basis. Because you really need to know how deeply twisted some of these plutocrats who run our society truly are.

It was 2017, and a YIMBY activist invited me to talk about my book Nixonland with his book club, which also happened to be Marc Andreessen’s book club. They offered a free flight and hotel; I accepted. We met in that house. I was vaguely aware of Andreessen as the guy who invented the first web browser, a socially useful accomplishment by any measure and a story I had long kept in the back of my mind as an outstanding proof text that useful invention often flourishes best when government subsidizes it, socialism-style—given that Andreessen had created it while a student at a public institution, the University of Illinois. Then I boned up on what he was up to now, courtesy of a gargantuan 13,000-word profile from two years earlier in The New Yorker.

Andreessen, I learned, was “Tomorrow’s Advance Man.” He superintended the “newest and most unusual” venture capital firm on Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road. He “seethes with beliefs” and is “afire to reorder life as we know it.” His enthusiasms included replacing money with cryptocurrency; replacing cooked food with a scheme called, yes, “Soylent,” and boosting the now-invisible Oculus virtual reality headset.

Zero for three when it comes to picking useful inventions to reorder life as we know it, that is to say, though at no apparent cost to his power or net worth, now pegged at an estimated $1.7 billion. Along the way, I also learned he was a major stockholder in Facebook and a member of the civilian board that helped oversee the Central Intelligence Agency. Much later, it was in a tweet of his that I first saw the phrase “woke mind virus.” (He’s not a fan.) [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.