Marc Andreessen is a co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. Marc is also co-founder and chairman of Ning and an investor in several startups including Digg, Plazes, and Twitter.
Most fundamentally, the opportunity to be in control of your own destiny — you get to succeed or fail on your own, and you don’t have some bozo telling you what to do. For a certain kind of personality, this alone is reason enough to do a startup.
The opportunity to create something new — the proverbial blank sheet of paper. You have the ability — actually, the obligation — to imagine a product that does not yet exist and bring it into existence, without any of the constraints normally faced by larger companies.
The opportunity to have an impact on the world — to give people a new way to communicate, a new way to share information, a new way to work together, or anything else you can think of that would make the world a better place. Think it should be easier for low-income people to borrow money? Start Prosper. Think television should be opened up to an infinite number of channels? Start Joost. Think that computers should be based on Unix and open standards and not proprietary technology? Start Sun.
The ability to create your ideal culture and work with a dream team of people you get to assemble yourself. Want your culture to be based on people who have fun every day and enjoy working together? Or, are hyper-competitive both in work and play? Or, are super-focused on creating innovative new rocket science technologies? Or, are global in perspective from day one? You get to choose, and to build your culture and team to suit.
And finally, money — startups done right can of course be highly lucrative. This is not just an issue of personal greed — when things go right, your team and employees will themselves do very well and will be able to support their families, send their kids to college, and realize their dreams, and that’s really cool. And if you’re really lucky, you as the entrepreneur can ultimately make profound philanthropic gifts that change society for the better.