Update: Since deleting his tweet, Andreessen has posted an apology for any offence caused by the original statement, albeit with a curious emoticon capping it off.
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A statement to USA Today exhibited more condemning language: “We strongly reject the sentiments expressed by Marc Andreessen last night regarding India.”
Update 2: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has chimed in as well.
The original story follows.
It isn’t surprising to learn that Marc Andreessen, one of Silicon Valley’s foremost venture capitalists and a member of Facebook’s board of directors, is disappointed that Free Basics didn’t fly in India.
What is shocking though, is that the founder of celebrated VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) thinks that the country would be basking in a brighter economic reality if it remained under British rule and didn’t bother with ‘anti-colonialist’ ideas like net neutrality.
For context, India was under control of the British for nearly 200 years. The economic catastrophe that Andreessen is referring to is the 30-odd years after the country gained independence in 1947, during which its growth rate was woefully low because of anti-free market policies.
Andreessen’s notion of what is best for India is misguided and ill-informed, to say the least. Equally worrying is the fact that he believes India’s poorest don’t deserve the same open internet that he built his fortune on.
After deleting his tweet, Andreessen has attempted to walk away from the train wreck of a discussion he fired up.
Unfortunately, it’s a little harder to erase those thoughts from people’s minds than merely clicking on a trash can.