Rather than fall victim to current negative vibes about “the end of business as we know it”, U.S. technologist and entrepreneur, Marc Andreessen is now also moving into venture capital for new ventures. Remarkably his focus is very early stage ventures, with investments of US$200,000 to US$500,000.

In the above linked video interview you’ll hear in 2 minutes why he thinks the iPhone is a full general purpose computer and part of a new trend. More interestingly, in his full television interview [56 minute on Google video: low resolution version] you’ll hear his views on a range of ICT developments. The interview was with Charlie Rose, a US television talk show host.

There’s a lot in those 56 minutes. For newbies to the latest on the web, the video is a technology primer. For those keeping up it’s useful confirmation on past and current developments.

Don’t know who Andreessen is? If you’re using Internet Explorer or Firefox to read this post then you are using software tools he helped create. He was the principal software architect for the original versions on which both browsers are based. He led the team which created Mosaic in the early 1990s at the University of Illinois and then the team which created Netscape’s Mozilla in the mid-1990s in Silicon Valley.

In the Andreessen interview here’s what stood out for Lightbulb readers.

  • ON INTERNET HISTORY, Andreessen says he has been most surprised by the impact of the internet since the days of coding Mozilla and then Netscape Navigator. Today, he says, we’ve reached a point where smart investors put a zero valuation on the printing presses of newspapers. We’ve also just seen a social media savvy Presidential campaign bring Obama to victory.
  • ON VENTURE CAPITAL, you’ll hear why Andreessen will invest between US$200,000 to US$500,000 in early-stage technology ventures via his new venture capital fund, Andreessen Horwitz.
  • ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, you’ll hear why he believes the network effect of a growing internet has made cloud computing real today. He contrasts the position today to 1999 when he set up Opsware.
  • ON INTERNET VENTURES, Andreessen comments on Amazon’s Kindle (he likes it), Twitter (he was an early investor), computer games (he is an X-box addict), his company Ning (about to cross 20 million users, with 2 million added per month), LinkedIn (he was an angel investor, it’s got 20 million users now), Facebook (he’s on the board), and Google (it made search “just work”).

Who is Marc Andreessen?

Andreessen’s track record in ICT is very impressive, making his career worth tracking as we did in Mozilla: An Intellectual Property Monster Story.

He co-founded Netscape, which was sold to America Online in 1998 for US$4.2 billion. He was Chair of Opsware which was sold to HP in mid-2007 for US$1.6 billion cash. He invested in Ning which continues to grow and his other ICT investments are bubbling along. And from this month he is a partner in Andreessen Horwitz. In the 56 minute video he jokes that the firm’s name begins with “A” because it will put it at the top of the Yellow Pages list. The quip is funnier if you’re familiar with what his career has done to blow Yellow Pages apart.

If Andreessen is part of the technology creating the emerging real time internet then is it too far out to suggest he will also be one of the first real time venture capitalists?

Why listening to Andreessen is relevant to you

What Andreessen and his melieu create feeds escalation in our lives and work. Part of his melieu are the creatives, technologists and backers for browsers, social networking tools (eg Facebook, Ning and Twitter) and cloud computing.

For several years it has been recognised that new internet start-ups require less money, even less venture capital than they used to say back in the 1990s or 1980s or earlier.

Andreessen’s latest response to this changed reality is to more publicly become a provider of investment money to early stage start-ups. He is offering US$200,000 to US$500,000 instead of say US$2 million plus.

It also seems internet start-ups can scale faster than ever, though that postulation needs research to test it. The network effect of the internet is a factor.

Still, the point is that Andreessen is doing something differently (ie investing smaller sums than is usual for a VC) and this seems in line with the escalating pace of change.

A practical issue for each of us in life and work is how to better respond to the escalation of time.

As Andreessen moves into real time venture capital, ask yourself this question – In terms of online and in real time, what are you a specialist in? Your answer may be part of your area of strength for the years ahead.

How would we answer that question at Dilanchian Lawyers & Consultants? As lawyers our areas of strength are contract drafting, commercialisation strategy and intellectual property advice. We’ve tooled up over very many years to be able to deliver those legal and consultancy services online and in real time, when speed is essential. To do this it helps to track Andreessen.


Related reading

Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology – Part 1 Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology – Part 2
Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology – Part 3
Speed pays in IP commercialisation
Structured networks and the next internet wave
Does your business have an effective digital media footprint?

Noric Dilanchian