Silicon Valleys Secrets Are Hiding in Marc Andreessens Library

The first time I walked into the lobby of Andreessen Horowitz, four guys were waiting near the wall. Two sat in chairs. Two stand. And all four peered into open laptops, anxiously refreshing the slide decks they would soon slope to the firm’s partners. Founded in 2009 by Marc Andreessen and his sidekick Ben Horowitz, the house is one of more than 40 venture capital patronizes lined up along Sand Hill Road, a short unfold of asphalt in Palo Alto, California, that winds into the heart of Stanford University. Sand Hill Road is where people slope their ideas to Silicon Valley, and the Andreessen lobby is now the highest-profile, highest-stakes foyer of them all.

These 800 volumes are a microcosm of both Hollywood and Silicon Valley–at the same time.

I came to chat with a few of the firm’s partners and perhaps stumble onto a storey or two. I didn’t have a slide deck to refresh. But this foyer is also a library, with journals elongating roughly from the storey to the ceiling. So I stepped to the closest shelf and scanned a few cases spines. Then I did a double-take and examined them again. Kevin Brownlows The Parades Gone By . Neil Gabler’s An Empire of Their Own. A. Scott Bergs Samuel Goldwyn . Carol Beauchamps Joseph P. Kennedy Presents . All these books investigate the early days of Hollywood, and every one of them too sits on a shelf in my front room at home. I happen to be a movie devotee, you recognize, and so was person at Andreessen Horowitz.

The lobby also offers myriad books on computer programming and the Silicon Valley ethos, like John Markoffs What the Dormouse Said and Clayton Christensens The Innovators Dilemma . And other areas extend beyond Hollywood. There’s the history of news media. The biography of radio. David Halberstam’s The Influence That Be . Leslie Klingers Annotated Sherlock Holmes . The complete works of Charles Schulz( you know: Peanuts ). A shelf and half of Pogo ( The hipsters Peanuts ). But the movie notebooks are what robbed me. The Parade’s Gone By is the definitive biography of the silent era. Samuel Goldwyn is the very best of the Hollywood profiles. These weren’t volumes chosen at random. They belonged to someone with a very real and very deep interest.

So I started asking where these notebooks came from and what the hell is symbolize. And eventually, I discovered some reactions. But it wasn’t easy. The Andreessen library is very real, but it’s also surrounded by various coatings of artifice. These 800 books are a microcosm of both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, at the same time.