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Jeff John Roberts

Marc Andreessen’s “Manifesto” is a 5,000-word rant—with no mention of crypto

(Credit: Steve Jennings—Getty Images/TechCrunch)

Marc Andreessen is many things—an inventor, an investor, a billionaire, a mentor, a technology genius. He’s also an expert provocateur and media manipulator. And on that front, the cofounder of the Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm is back in the news with the publication on Monday of something called “The Techno-Optimist Manifesto.”

The Manifesto is less notable for its substance than for its style. Andreessen uncorks a torrent of verbiage that runs over 5,000 words and is vaguely reminiscent of John Milton’s blank verse—if Milton had been brooding with tech bros in a Napa vineyard stoned on acid. It’s hard to fully describe the style of the Manifesto, so here’s a sample:

“We believe we must help them find their way out of their self-imposed labyrinth of pain.

We invite everyone to join us in Techno-Optimism.

The water is warm.

Become our allies in the pursuit of technology, abundance, and life.”

And so it goes—on and on and on and on. At its core, Andreessen’s piece argues our society is trapped in a defensive crouch, fearful of the same technological forces that once lifted us from poverty, starvation, disease, and despair. The answer is to join him in a movement to restore optimism by pursuing life-changing technological breakthroughs that will take us to new planets.

If you can get past the bombast, you will likely find portions of the Manifesto you agree with. In my case, I nodded along as Andreessen complained of how our culture has become defined by growing bureaucracy, stagnant political leadership, and a censorious attitude toward new or controversial ideas. Still, I came away mostly puzzled by the endeavor: Why the fraught, 5,000-word format when Andreessen could have simply published an op-ed like his seminal 2011 Wall Street Journal essay, “Why software is eating the world”?

And then there’s the strange absence of crypto and blockchain, which don’t appear anywhere in the Manifesto—even though Andreessen’s firm launched a $4.5 billion crypto fund only last year. Does this signal an intellectual rift at the firm with Andreessen looking to turn his back on blockchain even as Andreessen Horowtiz partner Chris Dixon is set to publish a book hailing it as the future of the internet?

It’s hard to know for sure. As I noted above, Andreessen is an expert at playing the media and, to that end, the Manifesto has already been a success by focusing attention where he likes it: on the firm that bears his name.

Jeff John Roberts

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