An Internet news outlet is asking a lot of people I know, and some I don’t, what I’ve been up to lately. Lord knows what they’ll ultimately publish, so I thought I’d just write this instead.

We are in my 14th year of working to build our venture firm, Andreessen Horowitz. The overwhelming credit for a16z’s accomplishments goes to Ben and all our partners, but I do what I can to contribute. We are about to pass 500 employees, we’ve dramatically expanded our investing scope, and we’ve implemented an entirely new operating model on the other side of COVID. I could not be more proud of the firm and our colleagues, and we’re just getting started.

I work extensively with our many portfolio companies and their teams—some where I’m on the board, but many where I’m not but can scrub in at key times, usually either when things are going really right or really wrong. I am stunned daily by the creativity and courage of our founders, and I love working with all of them.

I spend much of the rest of my time helping to evaluate and close new investments. Most of the new investments a16z makes are not led by me, but I often partner with my colleagues to land new deals, and I occasionally lead an investment with a founding team I particularly connect with. I am currently on 12 boards, 9 private and 3 public, and try to always have at least one slot open for the next big thing.

Mainly I try to learn a lot. For example, the political events of 2014-2016 made clear to me that I didn’t understand politics at all, so I deliberately withdrew from political engagement and fundraising and instead read my way back in history and as far to the political left and political right as I could. I’ll list some books I’ve found particularly interesting at the end.

I keep up something of a public presence. I go back and forth on the virtues and faults of a daily social media presence. I write on occasion, and talk to interesting people in public. You may enjoy these recent podcasts:

After a surreal 2020, my family and I almost left California. In fact, we bought property in Las Vegas and almost bought in Manhattan, but decided to stay and double down on California instead. We rationalize our decision as choosing to live in the ruins of a once great civilization—like Rome in maybe 250 AD, we live amidst an enormous flowering of culture and creativity, but the roads are becoming unsafe and nobody is quite sure why.

Books:

The single best book I have found on who we are and how we got here:

  • The Ancient City by Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges

Together, the best explanation for the current structure of our society and politics:

  • The Machiavellians by James Burnham
  • The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham

Four books on the Spanish Civil War, which was the trial run for the hundred years of Western history that followed:

  • The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas
  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  • Spain In Our Hearts by Adam Hochschild
  • Mine Were Of Trouble by Peter Kemp

Six books on the deep history of the American right:

  • Lindbergh by Scott Berg
  • The Ambassador: Joseph P. Kennedy at the Court of St. James’s by Susan Ronald
  • The Guarded Gate by Daniel Okrent
  • The Second Coming of the KKK by Linda Gordon
  • War For Eternity by Benjamin Teitelbaum
  • The New Right by Michael Malice

Comprehensive biographies of Adolf Hitler:

  • Hitler: A Global Biography by Brendan Simms
  • Hitler: Ascent and Hitler: Downfall by Volker Ullrich

Six books on the deep history of the American left:

  • The God That Failed by Richard Crossman
  • The Romance of American Communism by Vivian Gornick
  • Witness by Whittaker Chambers
  • Joseph McCarthy by Arthur Herman
  • Days of Rage by Bryan Burrough
  • Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers by Tom Wolfe

A comprehensive biography and a key chronicle of Vladimir Lenin:

  • Lenin by Victor Sebestyen
  • Lenin On The Train by Catherine Merridale

On the French Revolution:

  • A New World Begins by Jeremy Popkin

Two books on fascism and anti-fascism:

  • Fascism by Paul Gottfried
  • Anti-Fascism by Paul Gottfried

A brilliant book on the nature of mass movements and collective psychology:

  • The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

The definitive work on intellectual life under totalitarianism:

  • The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz

The definitive work on practical life under totalitarianism:

  • The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel

Books on the evolution of modern culture and civic religion:

  • No Offense: Civil Religion and Protestant Taste by John Murray Cuddihy
  • Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss, and the Jewish Struggle With Modernity by John Murray Cuddihy

Two more books on who we are and how we got here, one on culture, the other on genetics:

  • The WEIRDest People In The World by Joseph Henrich
  • Who We Are And How We Got Here by David Reich

Two of Thomas Sowell’s many brilliant books on how our current politics and culture came to be:

  • A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell
  • The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy by Thomas Sowell

A sobering reexamination of how democratic governments actually make decisions:

  • Public Choice Theory and the Illusion of Grand Strategy by Richard Hanania

On the country and culture the United States is evolving into, not necessarily decline, but something very different:

  • History Has Begun: The Birth of a New America by Bruno Macaes

Three books on the philosophical underpinnings of our time:

  • The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama
  • Alexandre Kojève: Wisdom at the End of History by James Nichols
  • Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

Two books on the nature of the public intellectuals who lead our society:

  • Intellectuals by Paul Johnson
  • Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell
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