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Art by Clark Miller.
Art by Clark Miller.

Jack Dorsey, Marc Andreessen and the Makings of a Crypto Holy War

What began as a Twitter brawl in December has roots in the past—and could presage the future of Silicon Valley.

Art by Clark Miller.
April 1, 2022 1:00 PM PDT

People in Silicon Valley fight about money constantly. They squabble about startup valuations, executive compensation, pro rata rights and who does and does not have three commas in their bank account. But the bigger fight, the one Americans haven’t had since the battle over the gold standard, is about what money itself should be.

Which is why it was so startling when late last year two of the biggest names in tech, Jack Dorsey and Marc Andreessen, began attacking each other in public over complex questions of new money and its new masters. The debate between the former Twitter and current Block CEO and the venture capitalist founder of Andreessen Horowitz went down in a barrage of personal attacks, involving all the tools of modern social media warfare: “Real Housewives” memes, Cardi B, photos of cats and, of course, Elon Musk.

It’s been four months since the flame war began, and tech’s chattering class is still reeling. “It’s an anomaly for two people of such stature and wealth to feud publicly,” said Nick Bilton, author of “Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal.” “It was unlike anything I’d seen before. I don’t know if it started personal, but it definitely ended personal.”

The debate that Dorsey and Andreessen began in late 2021 and continue to engage in via proxies today is the most important one facing the exploding crypto industry, which has a market cap of roughly $2 trillion. Where this economic kinetic energy should be directed is open for argument—often angry argument. “Like with Bernie bros and Tesla longs, there isn’t a rational conversation about this stuff,” said Scott Galloway, New York University business school professor and host of CNN+’s “No Mercy, No Malice.” He likens the online commentators to “this extremist crypto Taliban community that dominates [the] conversation,” lacing it with “aggressive, angry, ad hominem attacks.” It’s just that, until now, people like Dorsey and Andreessen usually stayed out of the fray. No longer.

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