How Reddit Grew Its Ad Business, Bolstering IPO HopesRead Now

Art by Clark Miller
Art by Clark Miller

Citizen Marc: Why the Andreessen Horowitz Founder Can’t Stop Chasing Dreams of a New Media

Over recent years, Marc Andreessen’s media investments have shifted as starkly as his relationship with the press. Neither has gone smoothly.

Art by Clark Miller
Jan. 20, 2023 9:10 AM PST

The pitch was right up Marc Andreessen’s alley: a fledgling but buzzy digital media startup, which intended not only to produce its own content but to sell its content-management software to other publishers—and, if that worked, to scale its platform to anyone willing to pay. The co-founders? Three men in their 30s, deeply fascinated by technology and the internet, who already had money from Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and who would take funding from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, too.

This was 2012 and the startup attracting Andreessen’s attention was The Atavist, a high-touch web magazine with dreams of becoming a software company as well. The co-founder was Nicholas Thompson, the top editor of, who was juggling his day job, his startup and his young family. Though Thompson had to drag his toddler to the office one Saturday to pitch Andreessen, the investor was sufficiently impressed to hand over $50,000 to Thompson and his co-founders.

It was a small amount for his venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, but Andreessen’s considerations went beyond a single deal. Now known as a firebrand venture capitalist and vocal scourge of the woke mainstream media, Andreessen took a far different approach to the media back then. In fact, his outreach to The Atavist was a sign that he aimed to play nice with the press, according to a former Andreessen Horowitz executive familiar with the deal. In 2012, his firm was only a few years old, making it advantageous for Andreessen to maintain his chummy relationship with journalists, who would look favorably at his support of a high-minded outlet like The Atavist.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
Exclusive entertainment
How Reddit Grew Its Ad Business, Bolstering IPO Hopes
Art by Shane Burke. Photos via Reddit/Shutterstock.
While whiling away the hours on Call of Duty and other videogames, gamers love to chew on Kraft Singles. At least, that’s what research done by food giant Kraft Heinz implies. So to drive more sales of the individually wrapped pieces of processed cheese, Kraft Heinz targeted gaming interest groups on Reddit and launched an ad in the form of a discussion thread: “How to Keep Melty...
Latest Briefs
Uber’s Ride Hailing Business Shows Strong Recovery
NYT Co’s Digital Ad Revenues Weaken in Q4
UK Regulator Warns it May Block Microsoft-Activision Deal
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
The supplement stacks of 11 founders and investors. Photos courtesy of subjects.
The Big Read culture
The Supplement Stacks: All the Pills, Powders and Potions Filling Tech’s Kitchen Counters
When Courtney Reum wakes up in his Los Angeles home, it’s time to freeze, shake and dangle upside down.
Verily headquarters in San Francisco. Photo by AP.
Exclusive google
Revenues Rise at Alphabet’s Biggest ‘Other Bet’ But So Do Losses
Verily, by far the biggest Alphabet unit by revenue after Google, continues to post heavy losses, according to previously undisclosed financial information.
Art by Clark Miller.
The 1:1 google
‘We Just Have to Keep Winning’: A Sonos Executive With a Colorful History Goes to War Against Google
A few months into his job as chief legal officer of Sonos, Eddie Lazarus was ready to wage war. When Lazarus joined the audio hardware company in late 2018, it was facing growing competition from tech giants like Amazon and Google.
John and Patrick Collison. Photos by Bloomberg.
markets startups
Stripe Walks Tightrope to Stay Private. Could Other Firms Follow?
Thirteen years after starting Stripe, chief executive Patrick Collison is raising his company’s largest ever slug of cash from venture capitalists.
Illustration by Clark Miller.
Opinion startups
Stop Paying People So Much
Every startup leadership team wrestles with the trade-offs between growth and profitability. This is fitting and ever shall be.
Photo via Getty
Dealmaker venture capital
A New Bubble Is Forming for AI Startups, But Don’t Expect a Crypto-like Pop
Venture capitalists have dumped crypto and moved on to a new fascination: artificial intelligence. As a sign of this frenzy, they're paying steep prices for startups that are little more than ideas.