Marc Andreessen From The Middle Of The Tech World
Marc Andreessen, co-founder of numerous tech companies, such as AOL's (NYSE: AOL) Netscape and Ning, and co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, appeared on CNBC's Squawk Box Wednesday morning to talk about the world of tech, including his views on Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) CEO Meg Whitman, of which he sits on the board of directors.
Andreessen noted that Whitman was the best CEO that the company has had since its founders.
"Meg is the world class CEO that I think this company deserves," said Andreessen.
Whitman sat on the board of directors with Andreessen when turmoil occurred within HP during 2011. When the last CEO, Léo Apotheker, was ousted, Whitman was hired.
"I had her on a plane for six hours coming back from the East Coast, kind of during that critical period, and I and a couple of the other directors sat with her, and about halfway through the flight got the twinkle in her eye…She said 'Well, let's say purely hypothetically, that if I were to do it. What would the plan be?' And then I was like 'Okay, we got her,'" said Andreessen.
He said that she laid out a five-year plan that was blocked out year by year for everyone with a stake in Hewlett-Packard. Andreessen called it the "Great American Turnaround," saying that this is the kind of thing that becomes the "subject of books and legends."
According to Andreessen, people within the company are excited now, and enthusiasm and moral are way up. He said that she's brought a team dynamic into place between everyone, and that Whitman brought in a big emphasis on products, with more stuff under development and coming out of the labs under her than at any other point in its history. He also said that she puts in a lot of face time with costumers.
He then entered into talking about the broader world of tech, saying that there are many companies with a tremendous amount of potential, but that many make the mistake of going public prematurely, and are unprepared for the harsh scrutinies of being a public company.
Andreessen said that Andreessen Horowitz sold its positions in Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) and Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) as soon as they went public, saying that they "generally get paid to be on the private side." He noted that these two companies are having issues, saying that they weren't prepared for the scrutiny.
He did say that they're both great companies nonetheless however, and that the Groupon model is a huge market opportunity, because it effectively brings offline companies into the online advertising and marketing space. Andreessen said that most businesses in the world are still offline businesses.
The conversation then moved to the National Security Agency whistle-blower scandal. In regards to the Edward Snowden, who unveiled the extent of which the government routinely monitors Americans and others in the world, Andreessen seemed unimpressed with the leak.
"The government can get secret court orders which can basically require American companies to turn over information based on that court order. The companies have the ability to challenge the orders and have done so in the past. The companies can't talk about the orders, and so the people who actually know about this stuff actually can't come on TV and talk about it, but that was all known, like, there was nothing new in any of that," said Andreessen.
"This has actually been an active debate around these so-called FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) laws for years. So there's actually nothing in theory that we've learned from the whistle blower that actually holds up that is actually any different, that I can tell, and anything else is just speculation."
He wrapped up on a positive note, showing excitement for the Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Glass and the Glass Collective. Andreessen confirmed that he was tickled pink over what he considers a huge innovation. He said that wearable computing is a great opportunity to make technology a much more personal part of our lives.
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