Marc Andreessen compares California to Rome circa 250 A.D.

Billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen said he decided to “double down on California” and stay in the state, even as he likened it to “living in the ruins of a once great civilization.”

In a 34-tweet thread on Tuesday Andreessen, who co-founded the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said that he and his family considered leaving after a “surreal 2020.” They  bought real estate in Nevada and almost bought in Manhattan, he said. But they ultimately decided to stay, and now “rationalize” the decision by comparing it to living it in Rome before the fall. 

“Like Rome in maybe 250 A.D., we live amidst an enormous flowering of culture and creativity, but the roads are becoming unsafe and nobody is quite sure why,” he wrote.

Andreessen has been critical about the Silicon Valley area and its governance in the past, calling out San Francisco’s allergy to constructing new housing in his 2020 essay, “It’s Time to Build.” Even as the region’s economy has surged, Andreessen and other tech industry leaders have lamented the social problems persisting in the Bay Area, including a housing affordability crisis. 

In addition to his Nevada home purchase, the billionaire also bought a $177 million mansion in Malibu last year that was the most expensive home sale in California history, and also has a house in the wealthy Silicon Valley enclave Atherton. Despite his previous public comments about the need to build affordable housing in California, Andreessen and his wife vigorously opposed plans for denser construction in Atherton. The proposal was expunged from the housing plan in August.  

Andreessen’s comment about remaining in California comes as many longtime Silicon Valley boosters are questioning the value of the region. The shift to work-from-home and hybrid offices has been seized on by high-profile investors and technologists, proclaiming greener opportunities in places like Miami and Austin, Texas.

A representative for Andreessen Horowitz said earlier this year that it moved operations to “the cloud,” and will open new offices in New York, Miami and Los Angeles to supplement its existing digs in Menlo Park and in San Francisco.

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