Marc Andreessen: We’re in the ‘opposite of a bubble’
In an interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, PBS journalist Charlie Rose asked about the state of tech IPOs, Facebook advertising and the keys to successful tech companies.
Some in Silicon Valley and Wall Street believe a tech bubble is still brewing, but venture capitalist Marc Andreessen says that couldn’t be further from the truth.
When asked about tech IPOs and bubble chatter by PBS’ Charlie Rose at an IAB event during New York’s Advertising Week, he said, tech stocks have not traded this low relative to industrial companies for 30 years.
“There’s no bubble. … There’s not even a little trace of a bubble. It’s the opposite of a bubble. We had the bubble, it was in 2000,” he said. “Everybody worries about the bubble when there is no bubble… When there is a bubble, you stop worrying about a bubble, which is what makes the bubble.”
He also told Rose that it’s more difficult to become a public company now because of increased regulation. “You need to be a strong company to be a public company,” Andreessen said. “Which is why it makes sense to wait.”
On the subject of public companies, Rose turned to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who also shared the stage, and was asked about internal morale and operations after Facebook’s botched IPO.
Sandberg reiterated the company’s sentiments about how they were disappointed and surprised about their debut but are “good at moving forward.”
“People think… all of Facebook must just be in tatters because this has been so hard… certainly people were disappointed, but Silicon Valley companies, we cycle quickly, we iterate quickly,” she said.
It being Advertising Week, Sandberg also talked about the company’s latest findings regarding the effectiveness of advertising in users’ newsfeeds.
On the user experience side, she said, the company has seen no degradation but advertisers are seeing positive results: newsfeed ads are eight times more engaging than ads in the right-hand side of the page and ad recall for newsfeed ads is ten time higher.
When asked about mobile users – clearly a big challenge for Facebook – Sandberg couched it as an opportunity for the social network, saying that mobile users are 20 percent more likely to return to the site on any given day.
During the interview, Rose observed that tech companies are increasingly encroaching into each others’ spaces and asked about the secret to success.
Andreessen said it’s in the “willingness to defer gratification.” Over and over, he said, the media write about young founders and their lack of experience and inability to build a business model. And then when the company figures it all out, he said, people call it a “fluke,” when, really, it was their determination to focus on getting the product and user experience right. Facebok waited and is finding success, while MySpace over-monetized, he said.
For her part, Sandberg said the keys are executing and constantly innovating. “We’re more afraid of losing by standing still than [not changing],” she said.
Earlier in the interview, she echoed that theme, saying that Mark Zuckerberg talks about two ways to fail: by not hitting your plan or by being two conservative.
“Most companies fail the second way… their plans are too conservative and they hit it quarter after quarter as they slide out,” she said. “What we want to do is make sure our plans are big, bold and aggressive enough so that when we hit them, they’re big enough to achieve the kinds of goals we want to achieve.