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Feb 26 / King Kaufman

Netscape founder Marc Andreessen optimistic about the news business

If you’ve been following my recent advice to stay current on chatter around media issues and you feel like you need a dose of optimism, take a few minutes and read what Marc Andreessen has been writing lately.

Andreessen’s one of those people: When he talks, the business world listens. He developed Netscape Navigator, the web’s first dominant browser, in the early ’90s, and has since been a successful executive and investor.

In recent weeks he’s been tweeting a lot about media. And where many see chaos, doom and a race to the bottom, Andreessen sees a whole lot to be excited about:

I am more bullish about the future of the news industry over the next 20 years than almost anyone I know. You are going to see it grow 10X to 100X from where it is today. That is my starting point for any discussion about the future of journalism …

Some of the best news about the news business is the gigantic expansion of the addressable market, a function of the rise of the developing world plus the Internet. So how big is it? If you extrapolate from the number of smartphones globally, the total addressable market for news by 2020 is around 5 billion people worldwide.

Andreessen argues that industry growth, even if a lot of that growth is made of “crap,” can lead to higher quality work. “The more noise, confusion, and crap,” he writes, “the more there is an increase of, and corresponding need for, trusted guides, respected experts, and quality brands.” He lays out “eight obvious business models for news now and in the future” and names some examples of media outlets that are “doing it right,” which is to say “growing fast with quality.” Among those are Buzzfeed, the Guardian and Vice.

Give it a read. I bet you’ll want to run out and found your own media start-up!