Marc Andreessen: It's still really hard to build startups

By Michael Carney , written on October 3, 2013

From The News Desk

Silicon Valley is a much different place today than when Marc Andreessen moved here from the midwest in 1994. At the time, the PC boom has essentially come and gone, he recalled at tonight’s PandoMonthly fireside chat. Sure there were the giants of IBM, HP, and Apple that had gone public and were on their way, but there were few new startups being created.

Today, Andreessen sees the startup ecosystem as being healthier than it has ever been in his two decade tenure. Sarah Lacy asked Andreessen about the perception that entrepreneurship had been de-risked.

Andreessen replied:

The good news is the concept of entrepreneurship and startups has spread’s happening all over the place. There’s lots of success stories to point to...the career risk is much less than it used to be... So that’s all the good news.

But this is only half of the story.

He continued, "The bad news is that we live in sort of a bubble, in the sense that it’s more true here than in other places."

Andreesson notes that he still talks to engineering students who fear joining a startup that fails will be career suicide. In some cases this is the student repeating the fears of their parents, he says, but regardless "it hasn't completely penetrated," Andreessen says.

The reality is that startups are as hard as ever, according to both Andreessen and Lacy.

In that sense, it’s both a good thing and a bad thing that the perception of their risk has evolved. Today, aspiring entrepreneurs have access to more information and resources than any generation of entrepreneurs before them. VC and entrepreneur blogs, Quora, AngelList (and before it VentureHacks), StackOverflow, GitHub, and a variety of other platforms ensure that founders have access to the tools and the historical data to increase their odds of success.

But in these same platforms exists plenty of evidence that the majority of startups don’t succeed. Shame on anyone who deluded themselves into thinking that everything will be “up and to the right.”

So Silicon Valley is still a place of dreamers and odds defiers. It’s in the DNA of the startup ecosystem to look in the face of doubters and set out to prove them wrong. It’s not getting any easier to succeed, it’s just getting harder to delude yourself into thinking that it will be easy.

[Marc Andreessen is an investor in PandoDaily]

[Photo by Yelena Sophia/Bloom Productions]