Zach Ullman does a nice job transcribing and cleaning up my podcast conversation with Marc Andreessen here. If you would prefer to spend 30 minutes reading rather than 90 minutes listening, well then this is for you.
Here is a quick excerpt:
Barry Ritholtz (BR): Marc Andreessen, welcome to Bloomberg radio and thank you for hosting us here at Andreessen Horowitz.
Marc Andreessen (MA): I’m thrilled to be on and it’s great to have you here.
BR: I love your facilities. We love all the artwork and everything here. It seems to be like a very civilized place to work.
MA: I always say being a venture capitalist is like being an airline pilot — long stretches of boredom followed by moments of sheer terror. We try to have a calm atmosphere.
BR: That makes a lot of sense. Let’s go back to the beginning. Your big idea in 1992 was that people would want internet access in their homes. Now that’s a given today. We want internet access. We want internet access wherever we are 24/7, but 25 plus years ago, that was not very obvious. What led you to say in 1992, I have an idea: an internet browser?
MA: Yeah, so I would say it’s even beyond not obvious. It was considered ridiculous. Basically it was well known in 1992 that the internet was for academics and nerds, and there was no use case for ordinary people. It was just incomprehensible. How would anybody even have the technical capability to even consider getting online, much less have anything that they could do productively once they’re online? I have since actually learned a principle that I have generalized out that explains what happened. William Gibson, the famous science fiction author who wrote Neuromancer. It was a very influential book in our industry, his line is, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.
BR: There are many applications to that line too. It’s such a fabulous insight.
MA: And so the new ideas, this is something I have really come to believe, already exist. There are a few ideas that materialize out of thin air. They generally already exist somewhere. They exist somewhere in a lab. Right? They exist somewhere in a fringe group or in an underground movement or something like that. So what happened here, and this was the part that I think was just pure luck, is I went to college at the University of Illinois which at that time was one of four universities in the country that had been funded by the government to be the hubs for what at the time was called the NSFNET which was what became the internet. There was a whole program developed in the 80s around supercomputers. When Al Gore claimed credit for creating the internet, this is what he is talking about was the funding for this program to wire these universities, and so we had on campus in 1993 the level of broadband that people have in their homes today, and we saw the use cases. You saw everybody using all this stuff. Now it wasn’t at the level of sophistication as today, but you could see all the use cases. You could see how much people liked it. But the expectation was you had it in college and then you would graduate and you would go off into life and you would just give it up. That was the part where I was like, uh-uh.
BR: NSFNET was after DARPANET but before full on internet for the public. Is that a fair explanation?
MA: Yeah that’s right. ARPA now known as DARPA funded a military network which was originally conceived as a way to do nuclear command and control in the event of bad things happening in the world. Therefore the important of packets switching . . .
Go check out the whole thing here.