The man who bought the most expensive mansion in California history now says the state is “the ruins of a once great civilization,” comparing conditions to the fall of Rome — but perhaps ignoring the role of an incompetent wealthy ruling class in that analysis.
Big-bucks Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen’s firm Andreessen Horowitz (now called a16z) is credited with catapulting Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, and a host of others into runaway, spectacular wealth. But his Twitter persona typically more resembles a nine-year-old at a Scholastic Fart Joke Book Fair. For years he was known for never tweeting, until a very dumb and infantile Twitter fight with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey last December, but his @pmarca Twitter account has been largely silent since early July.
Andreessen’s only tweet since July 5 had been his announcement that his firm was handing $350 million to the founder bro whose previous work was managing to lose about $40 billion from the valuation of the startup WeWork.
But Andreesen started tweetstorming again this week, and as Fortune notes, he compares California to Rome in the year 250 A.D. For you history buffs out there, this was the era of Emperor Decius, whose main thing was slaughtering Christians.
An Internet news outlet is asking a lot of people I know, and some I don't, what I've been up to lately. Lord knows what they'll ultimately publish, so I thought I'd just write this instead. -->— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) October 4, 2022
The first ten tweets of the tweetstorm are your standard VCs-congratulating-themselves fare, with a dash of suspicion toward the press. “An Internet news outlet is asking a lot of people I know, and some I don't, what I've been up to lately. Lord knows what they'll ultimately publish,” he says. (The tweetstorm is also available as a blog post.)
We rationalize our decision as choosing to live in the ruins of a once great civilization -- like Rome in maybe 250 AD, we live amidst an enormous flowering of culture and creativity, but the roads are becoming unsafe and nobody is quite sure why.— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) October 4, 2022
He goes on to say that he and his family almost left California during the pandemic but decided to stay. "We rationalize our decision as choosing to live in the ruins of a once great civilization," Andreessen tweets. "Like Rome in maybe 250 AD, we live amidst an enormous flowering of culture and creativity, but the roads are becoming unsafe and nobody is quite sure why."
5. Two comprehensive biographies of Adolf Hitler.— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) October 4, 2022
Hitler: A Global Biography by Brendan Simms
Hitler: Ascent and Hitler: Downfall by Volker Ullrich
He goes on to recommend dozens of books, including two Hitler biographies.
The whole thread is a classic example of “sounding smart without actually saying anything." And there are analogies to Rome at the time that do hold up. (There was a pandemic at that time as well!) But Andreessen’s point is that California is being run by corrupt yet incompetent emperors awash in spectacular wealth. And it may be that those corrupt emperors are in the tech sector, not the government sector.
Image: Metro-Golden Mayer