Earlier this month Andreessen Horowitz hired the secessionist, Balaji Srinivasan. The academic and entrepreneur infamous for suggesting that techies build their own society "outside the U.S." scratches off the secessionist label with one hand, even as he writes dreamy odes to "a cloud country of our own" for Wired. Now, Srinivasan is aiming his science fictional phasers at death.
The basic premise of that cloud country essay, which was praised by Ben Horowitz and Keith Rabois and enraptured the rank-and-file, is: like minded-people who meet online build a communities offline. This has been possible since at least the first AOL chat rooms or fan boy message boards. Besides, the world has no shortage of geographic hubs organized by ideology (hi, Portland), availability of opportunity, academic speciality, or industry, like say Shenzhen where so many of our favorite software containers are made! But Srinivasan coats his predictions in tech-centric exceptionalism:
Today, one of the first and largest international reverse diasporas has assembled in Silicon Valley, drawn by the internet to the cloud capital of technology . . .
And we can't know from today's vantage point where that first reverse diaspora might assemble outside the U.S., or what those cloud cities or countries will be like. They could be countries formed by internationally recognized processes similar to the ones that created 26 new countries over the past 25 years, a pattern noted by Marc Andreessen. They could be regions of the world set aside by global agreement for experimentation, as discussed by Larry Page. They could be floating cities in international waters as put forth by Peter Thiel, or one of the more ambitious 80,000 person colonies on Mars desired by Elon Musk. The specific location is still unknown; in a real sense it matters far less than the people there.
Strap on your jet pack because two weeks after he wrote that, Srinivasan was tapped as a general partner for Andreessen Horowitz—if that gives any indication of how futuristic rhetoric is rewarded in the current market for what one source called "venture celebrities."
As it turned out, the VC firm was more interested in Srinivasan as a true believer in "white hot" Bitcoin. But for a dreamer like Srinivasan, it's just a small jump from there to immortality, as you can see from his series of tweets last night:
Like his cloud country argument, some of this stuff is just Biology 101—research that should come as no surprise to the founder of a genomics startup, like Srinivasan, or a student of longevity. Only now, he's presenting death as just another thing technology can solve—another convenience in the utopia that awaits the worthy outside "the Paper Belt."
In February, Marc Andreessen has said you'd never see his firm dabbling in biotech or cleantech. The way Sand Hill Road is chasing Bitcoin, never say never. But that's the beauty of this kind of smoke machine, there doesn't have to be anything underneath.
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