Marc Andreessen was on CNBC yesterday talking about the 3 big tech trends he’s most excited about. I am certainly no tech investor in the sense that Andreessen is, but this sort of macro thinking is right up my alley. So let’s take a closer look at his ideas in this edition of things I think about things I didn’t think up:
1) Andreessen is very excited about Bitcoin and its ability to disrupt the financial services industry. Okay, this is actually right up my alley given that I am a self proclaimed “expert” on money. As I’ve described many times, “money” is something that anyone can create, but when we think of money it’s most useful to think of money as a medium of exchange. This means that we are all in search of that thing which most conveniently gives us access to goods and services. This is the item that can be used as a tool to traverse all goods and services.
In a modern monetary system that item is the bank deposits that are issued by banks which give users access to the bank payment system. The reason why the bank payment system dominates the medium of exchange is because it’s easily regulated, efficient, trustworthy and liquid. Bitcoin does not disrupt this business model in any meaningful sense. If anything, Bitcoin is a type of money created as a subordinate form of money to deposits. Unless Bitcoin can compete on equal footing with the strengths of the modern banking system it simply can’t become a very disruptive form of money. And I think that the Bitcoin business model has significant weaknesses inherent in its design that make it difficult to compete.
So I don’t know if I agree with Marc on this one.
2) Andreessen thinks online education is the future of education. I love this macro trend. Education via the internet is one of the most exciting things developing today. People sometimes ask me how I learned so much about money and finance and the answer is simple – I was obsessive compulsive about studying data and learning from other people on the internet. The internet is a gold mine of knowledge for people who want to learn.
More importantly, this is a huge global macro trend. The proliferation of information via the internet is creating an incredible convergence between the emerging world and the developed world where we’re seeing the emerging world demand the same standard of living experienced in the developed world. And through access to information, knowledge and technology this convergence is rapidly taking hold.
This is one of the most powerful and exciting trends happening around the globe today.
3) Andreessen is very bullish about online health care trends. This again feeds into the developed market trends. We’re seeing an aging developed world combined with huge growth in technological advancements. In addition, we’re seeing that health care is becoming much more affordable depending on where you are. We’re seeing huge advancements in the efficient ways in which consumers can gain access to better health care. So I think Andreessen is definitely right on the money here.
The only thing I might add is that I think the proliferation of information will lead to more active and more aware consumers which will not only help the health care industry, but also the way we view nutrition and fitness. I think the growth in things like niche health and fitness or diet trends are really only just beginning. Much of this is moving out of the brick and mortar places like gyms and into your living room or niche style health and well-being businesses. We’re not just growing older, but we’re growing more cognizant of our aging and fighting more aggressively to combat it in advance.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.