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Jack Dorsey Twitter Marc Andreessen Web3 Fight

Jack Dorsey Twitter Marc Andreessen Web3 Fight
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Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jack Dorsey, who seems to have had plenty of time since resigning as Twitter’s CEO in November, is back in his old position to do what one does there: a troll. On Tuesday night, the tech founder — who once spent ten days in a silent yoga haven — struck another blow in a recent public feud with Mark Andreessen, the venture capitalist kingmaker whose money has flowed through Silicon Valley for a generation.

The sniping of two of the world’s richest men has been, recently, around “Web 3,” a term that developers believe the Internet will look like in a few years, a kind of decentralized digital world running on a diverse mix of metaverses, blockchains, and non- fungible tokens or NFTs. One of the pioneers of the social media era, Dorsey was a huge supporter of Bitcoin, but he decried Web3 as mere marketing at best, and at worst a smokescreen for VCs to consolidate more money and power. Andreessen — who founded Netscape and was an early investor in giants like Facebook, Airbnb and even Twitter — disagreed, arguing that a decentralized internet, built on the blockchain technology that created bitcoin, is the future. The controversy intensified to the point that Andersen banned Dorsey.

But the biggest breakup of Silicon Valley’s business appears to have begun – as most of these things do – with unstoppable progress.

In an unremarkable podcast released late last month, another prominent VC, Jason Calacanis, posted some details about the time Andreessen Horowitz, the VC fund co-founded by Ben Horowitz, attempted to take over Twitter entirely. The story, as told by Calacanis, goes back years — almost to the end of the Obama administration — when the company’s stock was at an all time low. “I don’t think anyone ever talked about it publicly, but there was talk when Twitter was at the bottom of his Twitter page, and I know Andreessen Horowitz was trying to make a purchase on Twitter. This is not public knowledge,” Calacanis said.

At the time, the fund was hardly alone among the suitors trying to take over the social media company. Disney, Salesforce, Google and Apple have all considered snapping it up, as well as private equity firms Silver Lake and General Lake, and SPAC evangelist Chamath Palihapatiya. It’s not really clear what happened, why he was turned down, or even if Dorsey was involved in any of the discussions. For what it’s worth, Calacanis – who Andreessen also blocked – didn’t respond when I asked for more details, nor did Twitter spokespersons or Andreessen Horowitz.

Andreessen Horowitz’s one-time interest makes a “what if” scenario in the already incestuous world of California tech — but according to Dorsey’s recent tweets, any deal likely wouldn’t have worked out. The Twitter co-founder has made it clear that he trusts few daring investors, except for those who “You know where they are. Dorsey wrote in tweet Last month. “Venture capitalists and their LPs do. You will never get away with their incentives. It is ultimately a central entity with a different name. Know what you’re getting into.” And in yet another late Tuesday night parody of Chris Dixon, another Andreessen crypto investor, said I suggested Venture capitalists are hiding who is really controlling them, because they are not bound by the same disclosure rules as publicly traded companies.

However, the fight turns out to be a professional wrestling match, with the exception of this one between Dorsey, who Forbes says is worth about $8.5 billion, and Andreessen, who is worth about one-sixth of that. Nobody really loses. So far, this has elevated Dorsey’s standing as a herald of a future of less conflict and a lower concentration of power in technology. Whether this is true is another matter entirely. Dorsey has a lot to gain by tearing down a whole class of new businesses because he is still, after all, the CEO of Block, neé Square, a financial services company that develops its own blockchain products, and owns Cash App and former Jay-Z’s. Music streaming service, Tidal. For their part, Dorsey’s bugaboo VC fund doesn’t include Twitter on its website for investments anymore — if that happens — even though they invested $80 million in the company in 2011, before its initial public offering. And Andreessen himself was openly enjoying his own block button Mail after Another full of meme.

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