This article is based on a speech delivered at Shift’s Defense Ventures Summit in Washington, D.C. on November 15, 2023. It was first published in The Free Press, where the article is available in its entirety.
Two years ago, I made a bold prediction, which is actually a bad thing for a venture capitalist to do because we’re so often wrong. During the Reagan National Defense Forum, I tweeted “Time is Running Out with Silicon Valley.” We needed to figure out how to get the Department of Defense to transform its laborious, unproductive procurement process. If they didn’t, start-up companies with breakthrough ideas were going to abandon military defense and move to more fruitful areas of technology. We had to move faster. We had to act with urgency. Because American defense — and the defense of our allies — depended on us.
And then just a few months later, that prediction became a moot point: Russia invaded Ukraine and reminded us why defense technology is not merely something to debate in theory. We were living in a new geopolitical reality. Time wasn’t running out. The sand was at the bottom of the hourglass. History had begun again, and we understood we were entering a new, violent age that would look different from the recent past.
In that narrow window before the world changed, I also wrote a thesis for a new category of technology company. At the time, this felt somewhat controversial, maybe even a little shocking, to my friends in San Francisco. In the essay I stated that my firm Andreessen Horowitz, one of the largest venture capital firms in the world, was unabashedly and proudly declaring its unanimous support for America. That we were betting on America. And that this wasn’t a marketing gimmick or some ESG-adjacent nonsense, but a strategy. We’re in the business of value creation. Of taking bets on things that get very big, very fast. We concluded that America and our allies are best off when we’re building technology companies that support the national interest.
We believe a strong America means a strong world. A safer world. A more civilized world, which is a term we should use more. And that technology is the backbone of maintaining this order and civilization and always will be.
We called this movement American Dynamism. In the investing business, it’s all about calibrating risk and sometimes taking bets that others don’t see. But this bet was and is so obvious. It might have just taken a little bit of moral courage to say the word America out loud.
Read the full speech at the Free Press.