Super Cities №180 — One Break, Many Exits in Silicon Valley

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

Marc Andreessen is the real deal

He believes that Silicon Valley is mission control for mankind, which is therefore on a steep trajectory toward perfection. And when he so argues, fire-hosing you with syllogisms and data points and pre-refuting every potential rebuttal, he’s very persuasive.

Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen changed modern computing when they started Netscape in 1994. The Netscape-as-disruptor story is legendary, but to me, the company’s most remarkable achievement was its founding team: co-founder Clark (50) was twice the age of co-founder Andreessen (23).

Already a giant in Silicon Valley, Jim Clark could have named his co-founders and team. Instead, Clark partnered with someone half his age. That takes some combination of guts, bravado, and instincts.

It worked. The Clark-Andreessen partnership resulted in the first widely-adopted internet browser and, within four years, a $4+ billion acquisition.

It’s hard to imagine another industry — say, banking or healthcare — where a Master of the Universe bets cofounder-level time, reputation, and fortune on a kid half his age. I’m no Silicon Valley fanboy, but Netscape’s story offers some validation for its historical ethos of creativity, risk-taking, and innovation.

Since Netscape, Andreessen has soared. His firm, the cleverly-branded a16z, backs many of this generation’s big winners.

If you have time, I’d recommend the linked profile.

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