Sand Hill Road is the short, architecturally undistinguished strip just west of Palo Alto, Calif., where the venture capitalists hang out. As an incubator of revolutions, Sand Hill has had a longer and more successful run than Berkeley ever did in the 1960s. Companies from Amazon to Google were funded here.
Tech companies, international in outlook, sales and employment, have little in common with President Trump's nativist impulses. Mr. Andreessen, the more histrionic side of Andreessen Horowitz, recently said the tech community is so "extremely left-wing, extremely liberal" that a lot of people there could not even articulate a case for Mr. Trump, much less agree with it.
Mr. Andreessen, as it happened, did not want Ben to articulate a case for his Trump-supporting father. "Marc said, 'Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it,'" Ben recalled.
But his father asked him, and so there was Ben on a couch in his Sand Hill office, mulling the unexpected confluence of race, politics and technology that is the Horowitz family. In case of trouble, an aide recorded the conversation.
"Marx said, sharpen the contradictions. He was talking about the contradictions between labor and capital. Make it stark," Ben said. "My father, from a rhetorical, propaganda kind of messaging school, is all Marx and Lenin, still."
In other words, he goes to extremes.
Father and son usually avoid politics, discuss it when they must, and find common ground to the extent they can. They live with each other's extremes, especially with regard to race.
"We trust each other's intentions," Ben said.
For more than 25 years, Ben has been married to Felicia Wiley, who is black and grew up in a working class family in Los Angeles. She is a frequent volunteer at Glide Memorial Church, the longtime countercultural rallying point in San Francisco that talks on its website about how it offered "a safe space" to the Black Panthers. Last summer, Glide gave Felicia a major award.
Ben and Felicia have three grown children. In David's 2016 essay collection "Progressive Racism," he wrote, "I have three black granddaughters for whom I want the absolute best that this life and this society have to offer." But his positions on racial issues are not exactly mainstream in liberal Silicon Valley. In "Big Agenda," he called Black Lives Matter a "racist" and "riot-fomenting" organization.
And in lines that emphasize how far he had come from the idealism of the 1960s, he wrote in "Progressive Racism" that "there will always be racists and bigots. Only utopians will fail to understand this and seek to deploy the coercive powers of the state to make everyone believe as they do."
Ben looks at his father's racial statements in this light: "He's trying to help black people. Really, genuinely. Nobody else is going to take it that way because of how he says it."
He noted that his father broke with right-wing orthodoxy and condemned George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. "A young man who was unarmed and guiltless of any crime is dead," David wrote in 2013. "And shouldn't there be some penalty to pay for that?"
Ben was one of the speakers at David's 75th birthday celebration at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The son said his father "has a nose for freedom and is absolutely relentless about pursuing it," and announced that he and Felicia were giving the center a $25,000 donation.
Racial questions sometimes come at Ben from other directions. At Andreessen Horowitz, nine of the 135 employees are black. "People say, 'What are you doing?'" said Ben. The question comes up because the situation is so rare: Only about one percent of the tech workers in the Bay Area are black.
"Those are the people I'm comfortable around," Ben said. "It's weird my father was the origin of it, given who he is now."
Growing up in black culture, Ben developed a love for hip-hop music and used its lyrics as epigraphs for his blog posts on management. An article documenting his affection for the music came to the attention of Divine, a rapper who spent a decade in prison for selling drugs.
"I was skeptical," said Divine, who was born Victor D. Lombard. "I thought it was a publicity stunt. I couldn't tie together an older white gentleman who was a venture capitalist and a billionaire to hip-hop, which comes from poverty, from struggle, from pain." He reached out to Ben via Twitter, realized his sincerity, and the two became friends.
Divine has met David at Ben's parties and has pondered what separates and joins the two.
"It's like Ben is the antidote to David Horowitz," he said. "He balances his father out. And what's so crazy is that Ben came from David Horowitz."
In the same way a Mafia don is happy if his kids never whack anyone, David appreciates how his offspring stayed clear of the family business. He doesn't even mind the way they rejected his politics as well.
"The victory of not indoctrinating your kids and yet having them be successful anyway — that's the ultimate for him," Ben said.
Because really, who in their right mind would choose to be involved in politics now?
"I liked it when there were fringes on the left and the right and a somewhat rational center," David said. "We've lost the center. Normal people are wary of politics, with good reason. It's a very dirty business."
If David himself were to renounce that business, declaring that his benevolent attitude toward his family would now be extended to strangers as well, this would be a tidier and more hopeful story.
The odds are higher that Hillary Clinton will get an award from the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Despite his distaste for politics, David can't afford to retire and wouldn't want to anyway.
"It would be like dying," he said. "I can't betray my cause."