[IP] Andreessen: 'The valley is going to save the valley' (fwd)

Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Thu, 6 Mar 2003 22:23:40 +0100 (CET)


While speaking about the !blogging devil.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2003 11:26:33 -0500
From: Dave Farber <dave@farber.net>
To: ip <ip@v2.listbox.com>
Subject: [IP] Andreessen: 'The valley is going to save the valley'

Posted on Thu, Mar. 06, 2003

Andreessen: 'The valley is going to save the valley'

Ten years ago, Marc Andreessen and his college chums were spending sleepless
nights chowing down pizza and writing code for the April 1993 launch of
Mosaic, the Web-browsing program that revolutionized the Internet.

Andreessen co-founded Netscape Communications around the Mosaic technology
and saw Netscape's 1996 initial public offering ignite an investor mania for
Internet stocks. America Online paid $10 billion for Netscape in 1999. Since
then, Andreessen has struggled to get back to the top, first with
Web-hosting company Loudcloud, and now as chairman of a spinoff, Opsware, a
data-automation software firm whose stock is trading at less than $2 a
share.

He talked with Mercury News Staff Writer Mary Anne Ostrom about how the
valley has, and hasn't, changed, what's hot, what's not and how he lost 60
pounds.

Q You've seen the top, perhaps now the bottom. What are the lessons?

A There are no lessons. Psychology doesn't change. People don't change.
We're the exact same people who went through the tulip bubble. We're the
exact same people who went through the Internet bubble. The next bubble
we'll go through in exactly the same way, and there's not a thing you can do
about it.

Q How bad is it, if you're a start-up today?

A People say innovation in the valley is suffering because VCs are not
willing to invest. I don't think that's true at all. Good ideas with good
teams behind them are getting funded just fine. There aren't a lot of good
ideas.

Q You have said part of the blame for the bust can be laid on MBAs who
flocked to the valley, taking over companies from technologists, like
yourself. Are the technologists back in charge?

A It's come full circle. Remember B-to-B? It's ``back-to-burgers.'' I've
actually started giving talks at Stanford Business School again. Finally
there's a group of MBAs in there worth talking to because they all don't
think they are immediately going to come out and be CEOs. It's great.

Q Google, with its potential initial public offering, is creating a lot of
buzz. Can one hot IPO save the valley?

A The valley is going to save the valley. I don't think a single company can
do that. It's not clear there are any other opportunities around Google.
It's self-contained. The companies that have transforming effects on the
valley are the ones that create platforms: platforms for the PC, for the
Internet.

Q You have gone from Web hosting to data-automation software. Who is buying
enterprise software these days?

A Comcast. Comcast runs these big data networks to support their broadband
users and their digital cable services. To date, people have had to go drive
out there whenever there is a security patch, a configuration change. With
our software, they just do all that automatically over the network. MetLife
is adopting our software. The Department of Energy is a big customer.

Q Is the valley paying the appropriate penalty, in terms of tight capital,
loss of credibility, for its role in the technology stock collapse?

A I don't have a lot of sympathy for investors in all this, including Main
Street investors. In general, people wanted to believe. It's a free country.
You place your bet and take your chances. (But) there are clear cases where
people need to be prosecuted.

Q Does the current unraveling of AOL make you sad?

A I think it's all very ironic. I don't own any AOL stock. I sold all mine.
There were a lot of really smart guys at AOL. I think Steve Case and Bob
Pittman are geniuses. But there were also a lot of people who were just
arrogant and they had a bunch of stuff going on in their culture that just
was really, really, really nasty. They drove that train off the cliff.

Q Do you blog?

A No. I have a day job. I don't have the time or ego need.

Q FCC Chairman Michael Powell calls TiVo ``God's machine.'' What's your
equivalent?

A I have four Replay machines. Each has 360 hours of storage and they are
plugged into my home LAN (local area network). I have 1,400 hours of video
storage. What's on it? All kinds of stuff, like the last 80 episodes of
Charlie Rose.

Q You have lost a lot of weight. How much, and how did you do it?

A As I ladle on the honey, probably about 60 pounds. I'm probably at 200
now. I come from Wisconsin, where everyone is overweight. When I came out
here, I couldn't understand why there would be bagels and croissants but no
doughnuts. What's wrong with these Californians? It's impossible to be out
here without adapting.

I've done a combination of weights with a trainer and cardio on my own. When
I really started to do it was during 1999, during the AOL thing, and I got
to take out a lot of my aggressions on the weight machine.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Contact Mary Anne Ostrom at mostrom@sjmercury.com or (408) 920-5574.


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