Andreessen: Smart = Curiosity + Drive

In a video interview with Fortune magazine (embed below), Marc Andreessen says that in the context of early stage entrepreneurship, smart = curiosity + drive. He says an entrepreneur should be curious their whole life (presumably about the world in general) and then when starting the company be curious about the company, industry, etc.

This is kind of surprising to me. I take ‘curious their whole life’ to mean they’re curious about many different things. I take ‘curious about the company’ to mean curious about the company in a monogamous, all-consuming, obsessive way.

What’s the likelihood that someone who’s generally curious can turn off that radar for 5-10 years and focus the curiosity on one thing? Do “curious” and “obsessive” go together in one human package with any frequency?

Or if not, is Marc saying that an entrepreneur can be intensely curious about the company at the same as being curious (at a noted level) about the world in general? If this is the case, is the entrepreneur requirement of crazy focus a myth?


Here is my old post asking whether you’d rather hang out with business people or academics if you wanted to maximize interestingness. The comments section is outstanding. As of now, my ideal life is working with entrepreneurs (broadly defined) all day, but having breakfast, lunch, and dinner with journalists and academics. With entrepreneurs you get driven people who want to change the world. With public intellectuals you get big thinkers who are relentlessly curious.

Of my icons list of nine people, three are entrepreneurs, two are academics, two are political thinkers, one writer, one comedian. This analysis of Where’s Waldo makes me want to add Werner Herzog to the list.

4 comments on “Andreessen: Smart = Curiosity + Drive
  • Hi Ben,

    Though the video is hilarious, you should know that’s not actually Werner Herzog analyzing “Where’s Waldo”, but rather some guy doing an impression.

    I really hope this is news to you and not completely obvious, otherwise I would feel like an idiot.

    p.s. Love your blog, you’re incredible, etc., etc.

  • I wasn’t sure, so I believed it was Herzog though with a low level of certainty. Thanks for letting me know.

    Also, thanks for the kind words and I checked out your blog — funny stuff.

  • Without a doubt, an entrepreneur who is driven and has passion is way more likely to succeed than an entrepreneur who is just curious.

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