Andreessen Says He’s ‘Free as a Bird’ Since Quitting Twitter

Marc Andreessen feels “free as a bird” since quitting Twitter, joking that his well-publicized hiatus is unlikely to diminish the company’s valuation.

The prominent venture capitalist and Facebook Inc. board member, a prolific tweeter known for occasional rants on everything from Silicon Valley to politics, announced over the weekend he was taking a leave of absence with the simple tweet, “Taking a Twitter break!” That coincided with reports that Twitter Inc. -- whose logo is a blue bird -- was close to entertaining a takeover offer.

Marc Andreessen

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Given the hothouse political environment in the U.S. in an election year, “it’s a little bit of a relief to take a step back,” he said.

“I think they’ll get by,” he said when asked how his 595,000 followers were taking his silence. Twitter “will be okay too,” he said.

The investor’s departure also came weeks after a much-discussed Wall Street Journal critique about Andreessen Horowitz’s underperformance relative to other high-profile venture capital houses such as Sequoia Capital and Benchmark. But he argued that his firm remained invested in some “spectacular” companies, and it was hard to identify those that might eventually deliver the biggest returns.

“It takes 10 years to actually know,” he said at an event in Palo Alto held by StrictlyVC, a lecture series and newsletter.

For now, the firm measures success by making sure it gets a crack at most of the best opportunities. It tracks investments made by around 20 top-performing firms and individuals in start-ups, then identifies whether Andreessen Horowitz was also in the mix of potential backers. It could have invested in those deals about 60 percent of the time, he said.

When the firm started in 2009, valuations were cheap because of the 2008 debt crisis. Where some investors believed technology companies would suffer longer-term, he and partner Ben Horowitz believed it was a good time to get in, he said.

An impending wave of mergers and acquisitions could afford venture capitalists the chance to realize returns on their bets, though potential buyers were waiting for valuations to come down, he said. Andreessen dismissed criticism that his firm was in part responsible for driving up private company valuations.

“We’re elephant hunting,” he said about the outsized returns his funds would need to make over the long term to land a spot in the top tier of their cohort. “We’re going for it.”

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