FORTUNE -- Contrary to arguments that Silicon Valley is repeating the same process that led to the dotcom bust in the early 2000s, Marc Andreessen argues tech is doing something entirely different: emerging from an industrywide depression.
"I think we're recovering from a depression, and I think we felt the depression very acutely in the Valley," said Andreessen, co-founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, during a panel at Goldman Sachs' Technology and Internet conference in San Francisco this week. By "depression," he refers to the years following 2001 when many Internet startups crashed and burned. "It was a very miserable time: A lot of the rest of the world moved on into real estate and all these other exciting things."
Instead, Andreessen explains that the Internet is following the same trajectory that older technologies like cars, railroads, and steam engines followed -- a path illustrated in Carlota Perez's 2003 book, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages. Explained Andreessen: "First the new technology is not taken seriously at all. Then it's taken way too seriously way too quickly. Everybody gets too excited. Then there's a gigantic catastrophe, and then stuff actually starts happening."
During the panel, Andreessen also weighed in on Bitcoin, the controversial digital currency that allows anonymous, instant payment exchanges anywhere in the world. Despite how it's currently perceived -- that it's primarily the stuff of "nerd fantasy" for "hackers, criminals, and Silicon Valley guys" -- Andreessen views it as a fundamental technological breakthrough that addresses the problem of what he calls, "distributed trust." "Bitcoin is the first Internet class, Internet scale, Internet-made approach to dealing with money and transactions," he argued. "We think the technology leads itself to many other kinds of transactions, many other forms of things you can trust: digital stocks, digital bonds, digital keys, digital contracts, digital signatures, digital voting."
Bitcoin's unprecedented versatility will likely lead to a regulatory agency "food fight" for instance, as parties attempt to legitimize it, but Andreessen argues Bitcoin is already helping re-imagine how the financial systems works and that it's potentially a good thing in particular for countries outside the developing world. As he reminded, some countries remain saddled with poor central banking systems, bad currencies, and theft and embezzlement on giant scales. Summed up Andreessen: "So the prospect of a new technology that literally runs entirely in software completely independent of any national policy, lets money travel freely across borders is actually a pretty big deal once you get out of the West. "
Early investments in the car service startup are worth an estimated 400-600x.
FORTUNE -- Say what you will about Uber's cocky founder, its surge pricing, or its shady drivers. From a pure investment standpoint, the car service startup has been golden.
Some back-of-the-envelope math shows why: Take Uber's $1.5 million angel round, led by First Round Capital and Lowercase Capital. It had a valuation of around $4 million pre-money. The company's later MOREErin Griffith - Feb 4, 2014 6:47 PM ET
Three of the Bay Area's marquee investment firms want to capture the most interesting ideas before they're hatched.
FORTUNE -- It was classic Sergey Brin. Dressed in sports shorts, an exercise shirt and blue Crocs, the Google co-founder showed up riding an elliptical bicycle, and as he does these days, wearing Glass, Google's futuristic wearable computer that fits on a head mounted display. Oh, and he was a few minutes late.
The MOREMiguel Helft, senior writer - Apr 10, 2013 5:00 PM ET
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz talk to Fortune's Adam Lashinsky about their investing philosophies, role models and business model.
FORTUNE -- When partners at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz are late to a meeting with entrepreneurs, they pay for it – literally. That's one of the rules established by co-founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, former entrepreneurs themselves, who started the firm in 2009. Partners are fined $10 for every MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Feb 15, 2013 3:06 PM ET
Also: Why the Web of today is a big disappointment; Maker Studios tussles with its biggest YouTube star.
Mailbox for iPhone: a next-generation email app inspired by Sparrow and Clear [THE VERGE]
Whereas most Mail apps rely on buttons to archive, delete, and file emails for later, Mailbox relies on a simple and colorful set of swipes. "Email was designed 30 years ago for computers chained to desks," Underwood says. "Everything about it MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Dec 14, 2012 5:30 AM ET
Apple inches closer to a true-blue TV set; Google chairman says Android has Apple beat.
Apple moves closer to making TV set [THE WALL STREET JOURNAL]
Executives at some of Apple's suppliers said the company has been testing designs for a large-screen high-definition set.
Two people said Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.which assembles the iPhone and iPad, has been collaborating with Japan's Sharp Corp. on the design of the new television for several months. "It isn't a formal project MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Dec 12, 2012 5:51 PM ET
Mark Zuckerberg won't sell his shares for another year; what happens when a Kickstarter campaign fails?
Start thinking about 5G wireless [CNNMONEY]
"5G won't be about more speed, necessarily," says Tod Sizer, head of wireless research at Alcatel-Lucent's (ALU) Bell Labs. "It may be faster, but it will be more about meeting the expectation of service quality. Each generation of network technology has enabled a new set of features: 2G was about voice, 3G MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Sep 5, 2012 5:30 AM ET
An exclusive look inside CEO Ben Silbermann's social media sensation.
FORTUNE -- Ben Silbermann can't stop staring at the refrigerators. The Pinterest co-founder and CEO and I are standing in the break room of his company's garage-size Palo Alto office. He's just flown back from Austin's SXSW interactive festival, and a redesign of his website is two days away. It's all a little overwhelming. But at this moment his full attention MOREJessi Hempel, writer - Mar 22, 2012 5:00 AM ET
Fortune's curated selection of newsworthy tech stories from the last 24 hours. Sign up to get the newsletter delivered to you every day.
* Amazon (AMZN) didn't just unveil one new Kindle, but four -- nearly one for every user scenario -- including the widely-anticipated Kindle Fire ($199), sporting a color screen and multimedia functionality; two flavors of the Kindle Touch ($99 for WiFi-only, $149 for 3G), with a black-and-white, e-ink touchscreen; and the Kindle ($79), a MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Sep 29, 2011 3:30 AM ET
Fortune's curated selection of the weekend's most newsworthy tech stories from all over the Web. Sign up to get the newsletter delivered to you every day.
* How HP's (HPQ) $100 TouchPad fire sale could affect the company's reputation and retail partnerships moving forward. (ZDNet)
* Meanwhile, Robert X. Cringely on why the HP he knew died many years ago, starting with the spin-off of Agilent Technologies in 1999. (I, Cringely)
* Skype is acquiring group-messaging startup GroupMe for MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Aug 22, 2011 3:30 AM ET
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