Marc Andreessen Asks This Optimistic Question Every Time He Critiques A Startup

Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and early investor in Pinterest and Facebook, is an optimist.

In general, he believes optimists win, and pessimists lose.

In an interview with New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose, he discusses why having a positive attitude has helped him make smart investments.

“There are people who are wired to be sceptics and there are people who are wired to be optimists,” Andreessen tells Roose. “And I can tell you, at least from the last 20 years, if you bet on the side of the optimists, generally you’re right.”

So when he’s critiquing startup ideas, Andreessen says he tries not to ask the common question: “Will this idea work?”

Instead, he asks: “What if it does work?”

He uses his initial snubbing of eBay as an example.

“I remember when eBay came along, and I thought, No f—ing way. A f—ing flea market? How much crap is there in people’s garages? And who would want all that crap?” Andreessen tells Roose. “But that was not the relevant question. The eBay guys and the people who invested early, they said, ‘Let’s forget whether it will work or not. What if it does work?’ If it does work, then you’ve got a global trading platform for the first time in the world, you’ve got liquidity for products of all kinds, you’re going to have true price discovery.”

Disclosure: Marc Andreessen is an investor in Business Insider.

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