View full issue

This link was published in:

Bear of a Winter

by M.G. Siegler


"Then we're building Iron Man suits."

As I continue to clear out things I've read that I want to link to, here's Casey Newton's interview with Marc Andreessen. A few key blurbs:

The single biggest X factor in the next five or 10 years for all of this stuff will be if there is some fundamental breakthrough in battery technology, then basically all of these questions of what’s possible get reopened. Because if I had 10 or 100 times the amount of power that lasts 10 or 100 times longer, then we’re building Iron Man suits. Then all kinds of things start to happen.

On the topic of self-driving cars: 

There are mayors that would, for example, like to just declare their city core to [ban] human-driven cars. They want a grid of autonomous cars, golf carts, buses, trams, whatever, and it’s just a service, all electric, all autonomous.
Think about what they could do if they had that. They could take out all of the street parking. They could take out all of the parking lots. They could turn the entire downtown area into a park with these very lightweight electric vehicles. No pollution, no noise, no nothing. It would be almost like going to an airport, where you could drive and then you drop your car off and then a self-driving golf cart would take you into town. There are cities that want to do that, and not just in the US — there are cities internationally that want to do that, including in some countries where the government can order that to happen. College campuses, retirement communities, amusement parks, industrial campuses, and large office complexes in some cases are places where this stuff can get rolled out in a top-down way. I think you’ll see a hopscotching kind of thing, as opposed to sudden mass adoption.

Continuing on the topic of cars:

The long-run thing that’s going to happen here, I think, is very enticing. The really big economic impact of cars was not the car industry — the really big economic impact was suburbs and retail and package delivery and movie theaters and motel chains and theme parks and the interstate and truck stops and all the other implications. Basically, the entire way we live today is a consequence of the invention of the automobile. Because, before that, people just never went anywhere. Therefore, everything that you travel to is a consequence of the automobile.


In general, in venture capital and startups, the hardest thing to call is timing. The way it gets written after the fact is, "It was obvious it was going to happen at point X, and the people who thought it would happen earlier were stupid." When you’re in the middle of it, it’s actually not that obvious. I always like to point out Apple came out with the Newton in 1989, and boy, it seemed like it was the time. And it turned out it took another 20 years to get to the iPad.

100% agree with this. It's so obvious, and yet we overlook this time and time again. Sometimes we mistake this for luck. But it's not really luck. It's timing. 


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?