Twitter. Facebook. AirBnB. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the $4.2 billion venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, has backed them all — along with dozens of others. His latest project? Upending finance. Bloomberg Markets magazine interviewed Andreessen at the firm’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Out With the Old
“We have a chance to rebuild the system. Financial transactions are just numbers; it’s just information. You shouldn’t need 100,000 people and prime Manhattan real estate and giant data centers full of mainframe computers from the 1970s to give you the ability to do an online payment.
‘‘You would not today, starting from scratch, invent any of these financial businesses in the same way. To me, it’s all about unbundling the banks. There are regulatory arbitrage opportunities every step of the way. If the regulators are going to regulate banks, then you’ll have nonbank entities that spring up to do the things that banks can’t do. Bank regulation tends to backfire, and of late that means consumer lending is getting unbundled.”
In With the New
“We’re not going to go backward. When people start doing things a better way, it kind of doesn’t matter what the old way was. You can find people who will say that this is all just an arbitrage on the current trouble in the financial system, and I’m sure the big traditional banks will fight back and try to get things outlawed.
‘‘But think about the scenario of a loan officer talking to a prospective client. To software people, that looks like voodoo. The idea that you can sit across the table from somebody and get a read on their character is just nonsense.
‘‘Lots of industries are changing in a similar way. There’s been a qualitative approach, and now, there’s a quantitative approach. Everybody who grew up in the qualitative approach hates the quantitative approach and considers it a giant threat.”
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