After a couple of high-profile breakups of Silicon Valley companies, more firms will likely follow suit, venture capitalist and tech pioneer Marc Andreessen said Wednesday.
"I think it's a major trend," he said, citing eBay's spinning off of its PayPal unit and Hewlett-Packard's split, as well as the possibility of EMC and Symantec dividing. "My guess at this point is every large tech company more than 20 years old breaks up."
The reason? They're cheap.
"Valuations are very low," he said. "Tech for the last five years have been trading below industrials. Cash levels are very high. Debt levels are very low. All of that then attracts activists, right, which are an effect, not a cause. But then put additional pressure. And then you've got the fact the industry is changing so fast, and this is a big motivation of both eBay and H-P is the industry is changing so fast in all these sectors. And so you want to get to a smaller size so you can go faster."
Andreessen also had harsh words for activist investor Carl Icahn.
"He lies. He just makes stuff up. He slanders," Andreessen said. "It's like his inner 6-year-old comes out."
Andreessen downplayed Icahn's accomplishments.
"I don't know that it takes some super high IQ to say that it might be a good idea to break companies up under certain circumstances," he said. "I think it's a question of which companies, when, with which strategies. By the way, you're affecting the lives of real people. You're affecting the lives of tens of thousands of people. You're affecting the destiny of these companies for years to come. The substance on this really, really matters. And all the crazy bomb-throwing and all the inflammatory statements and all that stuff is just a complete sideshow. And, like, if that's how he wants to do business, he can. But it doesn't actually contribute to building a company."
Icahn could not immediately be reached for comment.
Andreessen, who has been an investor in bitcoin, said that he was in the virtual currency for the long run.
"We're not really focused on the price. We're focused on the technology that's getting built and the infrastructure that's getting built. I mean, bitcoin is a global payment network. It's bigger than it's ever been," he said.
Bitcoin prices plummeted over the weekend, hitting a new 2014 low of $304, before recovering some of its value.
But Andreessen said he wasn't concerned.
"This is like judging the Internet in 1994 based on the price of domain names," he said. "It's still very early. The world has not yet adopted bitcoin. It's still extremely early."
The technology behind bitcoin was the important factor, Andreessen added.
"The core technology phenomenon, which is what we're interested in, is doing extremely well," he said. "I think the price is going to bounce around. I mean, prices of lots of assets bounce around. Prices of banks bounce around, and yet banks are still standing."