MEDIA: Nanotechnology comment from Netscape's Andreessen in Fortune

Gregory Sullivan (
Mon, 25 Nov 96 16:19:28 EST

The mailing list was apparently incapacitated when I previously sent the
note below. I think extropians will find it interesting hence I am resending
it. Apologies if you have seen it before.

On the Fortune magazine web site there is an article dated December 9, 1996
and entitled "What It's Really Like to Be Marc Andreessen"
by Rick Tetzeli and reporter associate Shaifali Puri

The article provides some insight into Marc Andreessen's viewpoint about
nanotechnology. Note, Andreessen is now worth more than 100 million and
potentially could fund research into nanotechnology. Specifically, the
article claims:

Andreessen has sold at least 500,000 Netscape shares worth $28 million.
He still has 1.5 million shares, worth $82 million, in which he is 60%

The last sentence of the article which is quoted below is interesting I

Begin excerpt from Fortune article:

But Andreessen is more focused on two other time frames: the here and now,
and the way far out. What's next is an open question.

As for the way far out, he has plenty to say about it. One of his favorite
novels is The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson. Its plot is built around
nanotechnology, the science of manipulating individual atoms to build
devices and circuits. Although nanotechnology is being taken more and more
seriously, its possibilities seem positively chimerical. At its extreme,
nanotechnology would allow us to create stuff--anything from a chair to a
blimp--out of practically nothing. "So many of the things people do are
going to be unnecessary when matter can be rearranged arbitrarily," says
Andreessen. "I mean, this gets into all kinds of bizarre stuff.
Immortality. There's no fundamental reason why the breakdown of cell
structures is inevitable."

He pauses to sip some iced tea, waiting to see if I've heard correctly.
"There's no reason..." I begin.

"There's no reason death should happen," he rushes on. "There's no reason
decay shouldn't be totally repairable. There's no reason you shouldn't be
able to design exactly the body you want."

"Well," I say, "there's no reason I should be unhappy."

"That raises a very philosophical question," he says. He seems exhausted, or
perhaps disappointed by my skepticism. He slows down for a second. "Well,
at the very least the concept of manufacturing goes away."

It's one of those asides that make hanging out with Andreessen so
interesting. But it also makes you wonder if this guy's too far out, too
undisciplined, too young to keep Netscape in the big time. It makes you
wonder if he can play in the same league as Gates.


The article ends with the following two paragraphs.


As for Gates, well, Andreessen isn't sure the man in Seattle has a clear
sense of the road ahead. "Microsoft is doing things that are not rational
for a company in a leadership position," he says. "They define their culture
as one where they deliberately try to destroy competitors as their primary
way of doing business. The generally accepted strategy for a market leader
is to grow the market, not to wipe out the remaining 10%. It may take years,
but fundamentally their strategy is flawed."

By then, Andreessen figures he may have other options. "You know," he says,
"within 30 years someone's going to make a shitload of money in nanotech."