Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape who now runs the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, has come out of the political closet and announced he's backing Mitt Romney, which puts him at odds with the generally liberal leaning of Silicon Valley.
Q: As a Romney backer do you think he has a better vision for the regulatory environment that would be better for Silicon Valley?
Andreessen: "Yeah. At least so far I'm a Romney supporter in the primaries. He's a guy that is a dyed-in-the-wool-businessman. He's formed a large number of companies. He understands what it's like to be in business. Makes him attractive to people like me. I think he's got a great view on regulation.”
But, Andreessen said, he doesn't like Romney's views on China: “He's essentially calling for a trade war. I think that's a terrible idea. I hope he stops doing that,” Andreessen told CNBC, before switching back to praising Romney's stance on regulation, calling himself “a big supporter.”
The CNBC host jokingly asked Andreessen if he “travels incognito” when out on the West Coast, and “is it okay or do you get a lot of flap” for supporting a Republican?
Andreessen notes that he “was a big Clinton-Gore supporter in the '90s,” then references the old quote, sometimes (probably erroneously) attributed to Winston Churchill, “If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”
Said Andreessen: “I turned 40 last year so I figured it was time to make the switch.”
Laughs aside, though, while many execs in Silicon Valley support liberal candidates, Andreessen is not at all the only high-profile tech leader to have rejected the Left – although, in many cases, those who have tend to lean libertarian more so than mainstream Republican.
As Business Insider puts it, “The truth is that there is also a very strong libertarian strain in the Valley. Sometimes libertarian-leaning Silicon Valley titans even almost allow themselves to be called Republicans."
“I think a lot of the engineers tend to be pretty libertarian in Silicon Valley,” Thiel said. “A lot of the non-engineering people tend to be more Democratic, if I had to give the cultural split.”
The non-engineering group “includes company executives, it includes people who are lawyers, it includes people who work in other capacities, for all sorts of complicated reasons,” Thiel said. “The actual Silicon Valley demographic, the engineering part of it, is actually quite libertarian.”
As the entrepreneurs behind the internet explosion in the 1990s are starting to get up there in years, hopefully more than just Andreesen will come to realize how destructive liberalism is to economic growth and startup companies that aren't funded by crony capitalism.