Marc Andreessen — billionaire Netscape founder, famed venture capitalist — will forever be a Twitter legend, even though he took a leave of absence from the troubled social network late Saturday night. Never afraid to shy away from controversy, Andreessen shared his very Silicon Valley views freely on Twitter, commenting on topics ranging from how good the poors have it to the evils of anti-colonialism.
Screenshot via TechCrunch
Or was it Twitter itself? Salesforce? Google? Neoliberalism? A16Z? An act of god?
The tech and tech-adjacent community would frequently joke about getting that sweet Andreessen block — a rite of passage for any young, upwardly mobile arsehole who gets off on challenging the powers that be online. Twitter, the most democratic of social networks, is the perfect platform for trolling, so committed to free speech that the company’s been having abuse problem as of late.
So when the tech giant deleted all his tweets yesterday and said a temporary goodbye to the struggling platform, a question arose: Who killed @pmarca?
Taking a Twitter break!
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) September 25, 2016
Andreessen started following me early this year, and did so up until approximately 3:01PM EDT on September 24. (To give you a sense of the timeline, he announced his Twitter break on the same day at 11:43PM EDT.)
I was always confused by Andreessen following me. The tech billionaire was the most delicious of my hate follows -- always a punch-up, still willing to engage -- and I expected to get blocked when we beefed about whether Uber should treat its drivers like employees. (I think it should!) When I told him I think the one-per cent of Silicon Valley might be inherently out of touch with the rest of us, I thought I might get at least unfollowed, but Andreessen remained faithful.
But something broke in Andreessen when I went for him on Saturday, triggering something bigger. Here's how it went down:
Andreessen bumped on this old tweet of his Saturday morning:
I spat out this (not so) spicy take.
The real downside of being rich is that it makes you stupid https://t.co/CqZPhhEH8h
— my bday is october 1 (@evepeyser) September 24, 2016
It wasn't a particularly well-thought-out own, but I thought Andreessen's claim that capitalism somehow combats war and religion (it doesn't) was so patently absurd, I didn't need to get into the particulars.
Shortly after, I got blocked.
a pivotal moment in my career pic.twitter.com/cipCOlkyy9
— my bday is october 1 (@evepeyser) September 24, 2016
Then, he vanished.
2. The term "neoliberalism"
Curiously enough, when Andreessen deleted all his posts, a single retweet remained.
While @poundstoremike suspects this was an error -- "he rt'd this a while ago, I think, but I was deactivated so maybe it fucked up" -- in a broad sense, the tweet, which effectively called out Andreessen's bullshit neoliberal worldview, could have killed his Twitter.
Andreessen and his sidekick/colleague Benedict Evans have a penchant for tweeting about their disdain for being called neoliberals, a term commonly used to describe their politics.
'Neoliberal' is such a comforting word. It sounds so much better than 'I instinctively disagree but can't articulate a rational reason why'
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) September 3, 2016
If you're like ol' Benny over here and not sure what neoliberalism means, like any political ideology, it can't be summed up in a mere sentence, but here's a decent definition from The Guardian:
Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.
Perhaps Andreessen said goodbye to all that because he could no longer handle seeing criticism of his neoliberal views.
3. A yearning for a safe space
Back in the olden days, people could handle taking shit. Now they can't and need safe spaces. Perhaps Andreessen's "Twitter break" was prompted by his desire to feel safe online. Leslie Jones briefly quit the network for a similar reason, although she might have a little bit of a stronger case.
@evepeyser Conspiracy theory - FB will buy Twitter, Zuck told Marc to shut that shit down before he screws something up, like the India deal
— George Happens (@GeorgeHappens) September 25, 2016
5. Twitter itself
Twitter is having a really hard time right now, and might soon be sold. Last week, CNBC reported rumours that both Google and Salesforce were interested in buying Twitter. Other tech blogs speculate that Andreessen's "Twitter break" has to do with A16Z's role in potentially acquiring the company. Ultimately, this is Twitter's fault. The company should have done better. Then it could have remained independent, and maybe my darling Andrees would still be coming at us with the hot takes.
6. No, it was probably me
The timeline makes sense. I was probably the straw that broke the camel's back. Even though his takes were never not bad, Andreessen's tweets provided me with a perverted sense of pleasure. For that, I am grateful. Please return my darling egg. The twisted folks of Twitter mourn your absence. We might not be sorry, but we still want you back.
Gizmodo has reached out to Marc Andreessen for comment, and will update the post if he responds. (Please respond, babe.) Why do you think Marc Andreessen quit Twitter? Tell us your wildest theories, in the comments.