Marc Andreessen kicked off the new year by resuming what has become one of the quirkiest tech feuds in recent memory.
“In 2022, I am GOING TO BLOCK SO MANY PEOPLE,” he declared in a Jan. 1 tweet featuring a meme of J-Lo and Ben Affleck.
It was hard not to take it as a gleeful dig at Jack Dorsey, who shared that Andreessen had blocked him on Twitter in late December. The CEO of Block (this is already awkward) had set off the tit-for-tat that month by bashing VCs and Web3 in general — a stance that apparently prompted the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, which runs one of the biggest crypto funds in the world, to block Dorsey on the social network he created.
This wasn’t just an ordinary dispute between two high-profile tech figures. Andreessen helped popularize the web browser, which makes him a key figure in Web 1.0. Dorsey, in turn, helped create what’s now known as Web 2.0 with Twitter. And now their battle has turned the spotlight on the raging debate over Web3, the next iteration of the internet revolution based on blockchain technologies.
It was easy to assume Dorsey, who’s been vocal about his embrace of bitcoin, was in on the Web3 movement. Crypto’s explosive growth helped turbocharge Square — so much so that Dorsey renamed it Block, launched a number of crypto initiatives like a hardware wallet and stepped down as Twitter boss to go all-in on crypto.
But Block had its doubters, with some crypto advocates characterizing it as a Web 2.0 company trying to how-do-you-do-fellow-kids its way into Web3.
Finally, Dorsey had enough.
On Dec. 20, he fired back at the “haters” with a tweet: “You don’t own ‘web3.’ The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label.”
It was an odd flareup from a tech entrepreneur who launched two iconic tech brands with help from the VC world. Dorsey didn’t mention Andreessen, whose firm was so eager to invest in Twitter that it bought shares on the secondary market and who at one point expressed his regret in not investing in Square.
Andreessen, now considered one of the most successful investors in tech, was quick to express his disapproval with a Twitter block, a move he’s become infamous for. Dorsey promptly tweeted a screenshot of the ban notice with a quip: “I’m officially banned from web3.”
Dorsey’s quip, or the online response to it from his followers, appeared to trigger a series of funny and sometimes nasty tweets from Andreessen, including a “call for startup pitches” for a "block button, but for real life."
Meanwhile, Dorsey took fire from other corners of the crypto realm, including a Montreal-based investor who told him if he looks "outside of your bubble of rich dudes you’ll see that there are creators actually building web3 and a whole revolution in the form of digital renaissance.”
Dorsey hit back: “I care only about decentralized, secure, private foundations without single points of failure. And I’m focused on that.”
He tried to explain the stance of bashing VCs even though he received money from some of them: “I’ve learned from the issues taking on VCs creates. Block *had* help from VCs yes. But ones that know their place.”
Dorsey seemed to have grown tired of the debate by New Year’s Day. His handful of tweets since then included a retweet of a birthday greeting to bitcoin, which marked the 13th anniversary of its creation Monday.
But as 2022 rolled in, Andreessen clearly wasn’t ready to let go. He followed up his New Year’s Day tweet with a series of memes featuring a train slamming into a school bus labeled “Bad Followers.” Another featured an arrow fired into the eyes of a knight with the caption: “Blocked!”
The Twitter meme rant led one of his followers to quip: “I'm sure either Marc is high or his account [was] hacked or maybe he's just turned into [us teens].”