On Tuesday, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z) finally unveiled Future, an initiative described as being a new “media property.” The company, which already publishes blog posts and a podcast, appears to be attempting to offset supposedly negative tech coverage with a more optimistic, forward-looking spin.
"We are pro-tech, pro-markets, pro-innovation. But we are also ‘informed optimists,’ not freewheeling futurists making predictions without any skin in the game," Future's "Pitch Us" page reads. "So even for ideas that seem like science fiction, we want to see some logic or concrete evidence—a breakthrough in science, technology, engineering, or other rationale—that indicates what makes it possible. And our editorial bar is high: We will review and edit for credibility, precision, and proportionality of claims."
Among the investment firm’s first articles is a piece arguing for why speculative bubbles are actually great because of the networking opportunities or and another simply titled “Speculation Is Necessary. Governments Can Help,” which argues that financial speculation is innate and that governments shouldn’t be “wasting resources on initiatives aiming to eradicate speculative manias,” but rather channel that energy. The vast majority of the first batch of articles come from venture capitalists, tech executives, crypto advocates, and other well-placed industry insiders who have a vested interest in “building” a certain technological future.
Future joins a growing ecosystem of content that aimed at creating a safe space of sorts for industry insiders over the years, such as Clubhouse—the invite-only audio app where VCs, including Marc Andreessen, often block reporters—and Coinbase, which a16z has invested in and which recently launched its “Fact Check” blog to generate pro-cryptocurrency content.
Andreessen Horowitz has always been clear about the aim of this project: messaging positivity about the future and the free market. In January, the company announced it was "doubling down" on “speaking directly” with its audience, whether they be entrepreneurs or individuals curious about technology.
"Our lens is rational optimism about technology and the future. We believe that it’s better to be alive after the industrial revolution than in an agrarian society,” wrote Margit Wennmachers, a VC at a16z. “I say this with conviction as I grew up on a pig farm! Living through a pandemic has not been fun at all, but try doing it without technology."
The false binary offered by Wennmachers and implicit in the launch of Future shouldn't come as a surprise given her background as a top Silicon Valley “spin master,” as Wired put it. As Motherboard Managing Editor Emanuel Maiberg wrote when a16z announced Future, Silicon Valley has spent decades trying to convince the world to choose one of two paths: kneel before their might as they represent the forward march of history or foolishly resist and reveal yourself to be a naive Luddite.
Future’s first crop of articles, including the lengthy essay arguing that speculation is an inherent good in society, reflect this core mission of espousing positive sentiments about the tech industry.
Andreessen Horowitz did not respond to a request for comment.
Future represents an attempt to recapture an earlier type of technology writing that was often obsequious and uncritical. The rise of “negative” coverage that many executives seem to resent, however, is really a natural evolution that reflects how technology firms have become an increasingly integral and unaccountable part of society that decide how we relate to one another, how resources are allocated, and how we deploy technology to confront political or social problems.