Marc Andreessen: We're in a tech depressionDecember 12, 2012: 12:22 PM ET
Netscape founder says tech stocks are cheap.
FORTUNE -- Marc Andreessen, co-head of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and founder of Netscape, says the slump in technology stocks is as bad as he has ever seen it. And now might be the time to buy in.
Andreessen, speaking at a conference Wednesday hosted by The New York Times' Dealbook, said that for the first time that he could remember technology companies are trading at a discount to the shares of industrial companies, which have much slower growth and tend to see their earnings swing with the economy.
In the past six months, such tech companies as Facebook (FB) and Groupon (GRPN) have seen their shares disappoint. Andreessen said that while there are some company specific issues, tech companies in the market today are generally good investments in a really bad market for tech stocks. Andreessen said that wasn't the case back in the early 2000s when the tech bubble burst. "These are big companies with a lot of cash," says Andreessen. "The public market hates technology."
He also said talk that we recently had a bubble in Internet-centric technology stocks is silly. Most of the run up happened in the private markets, and it happened in only a few companies, Facebook mainly. Meanwhile, Andreessen said the big technology companies, Cisco and Intel for example, are trading at historic lows. "What bubble?," says Andreessen. "If that was a bubble that was the weirdest bubble I have ever seen."
Andreessen, who is on the board of Facebook, declined to comment on whether the social network's May IPO had been a bust. He also said the board of Hewlett Packard (HPQ), which Andreessen is a member of, stands behind Meg Whitman. HP recently was forced to completely write down the value of a recent acquisition citing accounting fraud. "Meg is doing an incredible job," says Andreessen. "All of us have huge faith and support of Meg."
One thing Andreessen was not bullish on was the future of newspapers. Prompted by a question from Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, Andreessen said he thought print was dead. He said the Times and other publications should ditch their print versions as soon as possible and focus their efforts on their digital offerings. "Maybe I shouldn't have started this discussion," Sorkin said.