The New Freedom

There's a great Andy Serwer interview of Marc Andreessen up on Fortune. I would recommend everyone go give it a read. Marc expresses many of the same things my partners and I are seeing and feeling right now.

But the ending of the article is really great. Andy asks him why driverless cars are so great when everyone loves owning and driving a car. And Marc answers with this gem:

Ask a kid. Take teenagers 20 years ago and ask them would they rather have a car or a computer? And the answer would have been 100% of the time they'd rather have a car, because a car represents freedom, right?

Today, ask kids if they'd rather have a smartphone or a car if they had to pick and 100% would say smartphones. Because smartphones represent freedom. There's a huge social behavior reorientation that's already happening. And you can see it through that. And I'm not saying nobody can own cars. If people want to own cars, they can own cars. But there is a new generation coming where freedom is defined by "I can do anything I want, whenever I want. If I want a ride, I get a ride, but I don't have to worry. I don't have to make car payments. I don't have to worry about insurance. I have complete flexibility." That is freedom too.

A smartphone can get you a ride but a car can't get you a date. The smartphone wins.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Nicholas Bagg

    So the smartphone can buy you financial freedom? I can buy into that.

    1. pointsnfigures

      As long as you use free wifi and don’t pay for data. : )

      1. ShanaC

        and use MInt mobile App πŸ™‚

  2. Brandon Burns

    Um… a car can most certainly get you a date. πŸ™‚

    1. Nicholas Bagg

      Depends on the car?

      1. Richard

        Yep, Show this picture to most women between 20-40 and you’ll barely get a reaction.

        1. ShanaC

          in that age range – and I will say it is designed well, but wouldn’t help get a date with me if I were single

    2. JimHirshfield


    3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Oh Yes…. definitely I did not see the picture previously (it showed up on my browser now)

    4. Richard

      Depends on want type of women you want to date.

    5. Guest

      Made me think of my old Porsche. Don’t want it back but do relish tooling along the PCH in it in my days on the Peninsula.

      1. awaldstein

        @JimHirshfield:disqus Oh so annoying that this misload of a pic can’t be erased.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Were your drinking and driving or driving and drinking? (Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff on fighter pilots)

          1. awaldstein

            πŸ˜‰ Had these two photos linked together.Annoying (super annoying) feature of Disqus is that you can’t (or I can’t at least) figure out how to delete a photo.Last time I ever embed a graphic on Disqus.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Another option is to ask your friendly neighborhood moderator to delete the whole comment. Yeah, I know, you’ll be as pleased to hear that as you were to experience the initial frustration. cc @wmoug:disqus

          3. awaldstein

            Not that important honestly.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            And now the mystery of why these two photos were linked.Your reminiscence inspired one of my own about Porsches and PCH. Except mine was all in my mind.

        2. William Mougayar

          maybe it was meant to be. the wine has displaced the car :)i did ask Disqus about that a while back. it was explained that they don’t want someone to post a pic, get a bunch of upvotes, then substituting for another pic. optimizing for the rogue behavior.

          1. awaldstein

            A quite astounding bottle of wine that I had last night so I’m good.Whatever the reason behind a feature that can cause annoyance (and to some I bet embarrassment) to your users is seriously questionable.

        3. JimHirshfield

          Sorry bud. @wmoug:disqus hit on a reason. Not carved in stone; perhaps one day we’ll get to this. But it’s definitely an edge case.

          1. Guest

            No problem.Each to their own reasoning.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        When I was a young recruiter, this consultant my boss hired to increase productivity suggested that we have an image in mind as we made cold calls — an image of something we aspired to. My image was zipping up PCH in a black 928. Never got the 928… but spend a lot of time on PCH… in a SUV. Not quite what I had in mind but I wasn’t factoring in kids back then.

        1. LE

          If you had the type of business where you made client contact on a local basis I would absolutely encourage you to buy a really nice attention getting car.Because it works like advertising. It gets people to talk to you and take notice. And each person who does that you hand them your card and you make a connection. It’s like magic.So if the car costs you $x per month over the cost of whatever you would drive (even if it’s an additional car) that money is advertising expense. [1]My guess is that you get most of your business by email and don’t interact on a level where this would matter.But, for example, if you were selling real estate or life insurance or doing financial consulting then the car could possibly be a good way to go (all this would depend on specifics of where you live and what other cars are driven, the car you are driving (whether it makes enough of an impact if it doesn’t you have just thrown money out the window) and a host of other factors).[1] There is a similar concept in real estate. Someone opens up a retail store or restaurant in a sub par location. Because they can’t afford the rent in a better location. But then has to spend a ton of money on advertising. Without realizing that the extra “rent” to get a good location is really instead of spending money on advertising.

    6. fredwilson

      Never worked for me πŸ˜‰

      1. Aaron Klein

        What got the Gotham Girl would easily pass as a MBA Monday post for much of your audience. πŸ˜‰

        1. fredwilson

          Can’t tell that story publicly. I tell it often privately

          1. Rohan

            Now you’ve made sure Aaron and I will ask you when we meet you next, Fred.(And when Aaron and I finally meet each other in person!)

          2. Brandon Burns

            When you get the scoop, take a hidden pocket cam with you. πŸ™‚

          3. Aaron Klein

            It’s true πŸ™‚

          4. JamesHRH

            That’s a good topic for a post – Fred’s rules on postable versus tellable.

          5. CJ

            A true playa never reveals ALL of his secrets. πŸ™‚

      2. pointsnfigures

        Me neither. Didn’t have a Porsche, but wound up playing cards every Friday and Saturday night telling stories about how one day we could get a date.

      3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        It is just not about owning that car … it also depends on When and Where you are driving with it πŸ™‚ …and btw, we all know that is a damn big lie !!! πŸ™‚

      4. Elia Freedman

        I figure that the girls who dated guys because of their car wouldn’t have been good dates for long anyway. At least that’s what I always told myself.

        1. andyswan

          Probably very good dates for just a date though….

        2. LE

          Perhaps but some women are also smart enough to view a car as a proxy for ambition and lifestyle. And there is nothing wrong with that.

          1. andyswan

            @LE you’re on fire today, droppin truth-bombs.

          2. Brandon Burns

            you’ve got a career as a dating advisor waiting for you.

          3. LE

            You’re right. (I bat 100 at predicting in advance all those reality show divorces before they happen.)

          4. Brandon Burns


          5. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Only thing wrong with that is if you don’t want lifestyle and ambition as a proxy for love

        3. ShanaC

          This is true!

        4. Robert Metcalf

          Elia, what you’d been telling yourself is generally correct (though @domainregistry:disqus’s response has some merit!)Once upon a time I got dates from my nice cars. Good-looking dates, but not relationships. And then I got a crap car, that I loved, and it worked as an incredible filter, removing girls that I shouldn’t date.My wife loves that car, not because it’s nice, but because I love it!

          1. Elia Freedman

            My name acted as a filter. Maybe that’s why I didn’t need the car.

      5. Donna Brewington White

        Nor me.

      6. Vineeth Kariappa

        ur nexus got u a date?

      7. JamesHRH

        Does not mean that it is universally untrue!If you believe that everything you do is a form of self expression, then the car you don’t own might get you a date (as well as your choice in smartphone could get you the Heisman?).I did show up once and have my date say “that is totally the kind of car I pictured you driving’ – that one went fairly well.

      8. jason wright

        so you sold it?

      1. Brandon Burns

        Ha! Awesome.

      2. Vineeth Kariappa

        next prank; get a girl, with a phone…

        1. pointsnfigures

          Next prank. Have a younger chick hit on an old guy and then shame him.

    7. JLM

      .When I was a dashing young Paratrooper officer, I had a bright orange TR-6 on a post with a nursing schoolCars are apparently quite effective in striking up deep and meaningful relationships with medical professionals.JLM.

      1. BillMcNeely

        Think the Airborne Ranger cache had more to do with it

    8. LE

      I own a 911. The above car (Cayman) they gave me when I brought my car in for service a week ago. A brand new one. With 500 miles on it. As a loaner car.Anyway I can tell you a few things.One is that it’s not a girl magnet it’s a guy magnet. Guys constantly make comments. [1] Girls don’t even notice. But then again I’m not in high school so maybe if I was it would be different. The reason is that if women see other guys respecting you then there is a halo around you that makes you look more attractive and of course gives you more confidence (you know the party).[1] And it’s been good for business as well.

      1. Guest

        No comment on business, confidence or dating.Agree that performance cars are a geek magnet and more are guys, though not all.My 86, 911 Turbo coup was a walking performance discussion which invariably was way over my head.

        1. LE

          a walking performance discussion which invariably was way over my headNothing bores me quicker than a discussion where someone talks about numbers or the latest thing they read in Car and Driver or Popular Photography. I really only care about what the end result that all those numbers give me. How does it feel and what does it sound like.I was curious so I just checked the 0 to 60 times of the 86 911 Turbo. It’s actually slower than the base 2012 or newer Carerra (non “S”) and can’t even come close to the new 911 Turbo. Not to mention the fact that the new models get 32mpg on the highway. (Which in no way makes up for the difference in gas prices vs. the 80’s..)

          1. PhilipSugar

            This would be the same for every old muscle car you can think of (which people love buying). If you look at the performance of a late 60s muscle car compared to just a regular car today it is about the same.

          2. JamesHRH

            @LE its all about the delta.My 68 Camaro – I am not really a car guy, but I had to own this one (long story) – kicked the tail of any thing else on the road in 1968.It was still awesomely fast, in the late 80s, from 60-80.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            1968? Mine is a 1969, 386, turbo 400,2.56:1 rear end, at 5000 RPM, 60 MPHin first, 100 MPH in second, and have todo arithmetic for third.Once drove it from DC to FedEx inMemphis, mostly 90+ MPH on theInterstates, drove around in Memphisfor two weeks, and drove home,17.96 MPG! Not too bad!The six weight less than 3000 pounds.The small block 8 weighed only a littleover 3000, An all aluminum big blockweighs less than the cast iron smallblock. Hmm.When my start up works, I’ll have itrestored.It’s one of a kind: I had the factoryleave off the side paint stripes!

          4. awaldstein

            I didn’t by my 86 Turbo in 98 because it was the fastest thing or the gas mileage.I bought it cause I loved it and OMG was it every fast and beautiful.Super fun.

          5. PhilipSugar

            Understand…small sampling of my cars: 59 TR3, 64TR4, 63 Galixie 500XL, 85 Maerati Bi-Turbo Convertible, trucks, boats, etc.It is an affliction. I almost bought a property for my wife just for the garages.

          6. awaldstein

            Ah…you should have been with me in Marsala where I visited the De Bartoli winery. Marco, the patriarch, was a Sicilian race car driver in the 50s. Before dawn, after a very long night, his son let us into the garages.Now…In NY, wall space for my collecting passion for art is to me what your garage space is it seems.

    9. ShanaC


    10. jason wright

      …a date with what though Brandon?

      1. Brandon Burns

        apparently not with joanne wilson! @fredwilson:disqus apparently has some secrets that trump a porche. πŸ™‚

        1. jason wright

          the modern porsche – nexus 5, two factor authentication, holding 500 bitcoins.

    11. Guest

      y’all love gold diggers ha – lol…

  3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    A smartphone can get you a ride but a car can’t get you a date….that made me smile :-)What about driving a BMW and holding the new gold-iPhone … double win?

  4. JimHirshfield

    Kids have always had the net effect of driverless cars: their parents. “Daddy, take me to soccer practice” is pretty much the same as “Car, take me to soccer practice” in 20 years. Parental supervision aside, the net effect is the same: kid gets where they want to be.As they grow up, do these kids have any interest in driving? I believe they will in the same way that social networking doesn’t diminish the desire for human contact.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Accessibility to what we naturally want to do – expression, engagement, curiosity, creativity.

      1. JimHirshfield


  5. Aaron Klein

    The real letdown will be when the millennials discover that a smartphone can’t get them a date either.

    1. Mark Birch

      There is an app for that…it’s called Tinder.

      1. Aaron Klein

        I once asked my boss where she met her husband, and without a pause she said, “the venereal disease clinic.”Not being slow myself, I replied “oh, so you used to be a nurse.”She eventually, for the record, admitted it was

      2. fredwilson

        It was Tinder I was referring to in my final sentence

        1. markslater

          thats so yesterday – Carrot is far better.

    2. pointsnfigures

      Hey, some kids think that talking to each other on a phone is a date….

      1. Aaron Klein


      2. BillMcNeely

        talking on the phone? like that’s so old fashion, like soooooo 1980s πŸ™‚

      3. Mark Birch

        You mean people use smartphones to talk to people using their voices? Sounds bizarre to me…

        1. pointsnfigures

          Devolved into pictures since they can’t read or spell for texts

  6. jason wright

    what was the old freedom paradigm?

  7. Shaun Dakin

    They may be driving less but I think some of that is due to the costs of owning a car vs a phone or not owning a car. Young people today simply can’t afford their first ride like they used to. And a hot car can definitely get you a date!

  8. awaldstein

    There’s a convergence happening here. This idea of public/shared transportation and the rather astounding growth of urban populations coming together.Check out the facts in this article:http://www.nationaljournal….80% of the country’s population live in urban centers.

    1. fredwilson

      That is a great article. Found it on and read it yesterday

  9. William Mougayar

    I liked the part at the end on marketing and advertising. Specifically, the fact that brand marketing hasn’t moved online, and he’s 100% correct.That’s a point that many startups have failed to understand and realize. They focus all their marketing efforts online, but online is mostly for growth and demand generation. That’s only half of marketing.It should be interesting to see if brand marketing makes it via Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

  10. LIAD

    driverless cars vs car ownership hijack his broader point.previously cars where our access points to the wider world. they gave us independence and the sense of the world at our fingertips. now those feelings are achieved through accessing the internet, specifically via mobile phones.nowadays – the sense of freedom obtained by being able to do anything, anytime, anywhere with anyone is a job served better via a smart phone than an automobile.

    1. fredwilson


    2. takingpitches

      awesome point

  11. Richard

    The love affair with the automobile is over. For those that can afford them, this is a choice. For those who can’t it is a necessity.

    1. Brandon G. Donnelly

      I still like it when there’s a snowboard in the back and I’m driving to a mountain though πŸ™‚

      1. Richard

        I hear ya. I rented a ford navigator on Priceline last week for $35 a day. A 60k car for $35 a day. What I was getting at is the “ownership” of the car.

    2. andyswan

      “The love affair with the automobile is over.”I’m sometimes concerned we might live on different planets. πŸ™‚

      1. Richard

        I spent 3 enjoyable years in Fort Worth. Everthing is different in Texas. You don’t call Uber to take you to your Farm in Teague Texas!

    3. kidmercury

      families still need reliable cars. people don’t reproduce like they used to, though, so perhaps the decline in families is a factor also driving the decline in cars.

  12. Brandon G. Donnelly

    I took this exact quote and posted it to my Facebook πŸ™‚ With more and more people returning to city centers and downtowns, a car can be more of a liability than anything.I also liked his comment about perfectly matching supply and demand (for cars). If you only drive to and from work, your car is sitting idle 90% of the time. My smartphone certainly doesn’t sit idle for 90% of the day.

    1. Brandon G. Donnelly

      (This post is also timely given that my parking garage is being cleaned today and I was forced to drive, which is something I don’t typically do. Again, a liability.)

    2. pointsnfigures

      I think that is a key point. City center vs rural or suburban. My kids in the city never needed a car growing up. But, suburban kids are different. We have four drivers and are a one car family. Many of my suburban kids have one car for each driver. In rural areas, sometimes they have more vehicles than people when you count things like pickup trucks for use on farms. Not sure Marc’s observation holds yet. But it certainly might for people that graduate from college and get a job. They rideshare, Zipcar, and spend their money on other assets.

      1. Brandon G. Donnelly

        Geography is absolutely critical. But many of the people who grew up in the suburbs as kids now aspire to live downtown (at least here in Toronto). And along with that comes a reduced dependency on cars. I personally find it isolating to live in a place that absolutely requires me to drive in order to have a decent quality of life.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Define “decent quality of life”.What about the designer, web dev., architect, surgeon, living in an urban center who has a passion for rock climbing, parasailing, mountaineering, backpacking, nature photography, fly fishing, etc? I know several who fit this exact profile and not having personal transportation to pursue such passions would be a deal breaker for them.I know that you were speaking personally, and that’s what matters. To me, it’s important to embrace the idea that what I consider a great quality of life or exciting pastime may not fit someone else’s priorities, and I shouldn’t judge or impede their methods nor they mine. :)And to be clear, I didn’t read your comment to suggest anything imposing upon others, just feel strongly that one’s love of compact, urban lifestyle is great for some, but not all.

      2. fredwilson

        Yupp. Said the same thing elsewhere in this thread

    3. fredwilson

      After I wrote this post i was thinking that it may be true in cities today but not yet true outside of cities

      1. Anthony Serina

        Just moved to the suburbs (lower westchester) and still do not own a car. We have one car for three people. It has been one month and not presented any problems. Maybe because all 3 of us work and spend our free time in Manhattan. Maybe the solution to suburbs and more rural areas is less cars aided by hailo, uber etc plus increased public transportation.

  13. chrisdorr

    It all depends where you live. If you live in LA, a car is a must, not true in NY. My son, who lives in LA, could not support himself as a music producer, writer and performer without a car. He would have no freedom to pursue his work and his dreams.

    1. Brandon G. Donnelly

      Urban form certainly matters

    2. Richard

      This is a myth. Live in downtown LA and car ownership is superfluous. I’d imagine that the life of a music producer, in most major cities would require a car. Everytime I’ve been to a gig, the clock always seemed to be in be single digit AMs.

      1. chrisdorr

        If he lived in Downtown, still same issue, recording studios are all over the place, and yes when recording, the day starts after 8PM and ends at 5 or 6 in the morning.

        1. Richard

          Part of the mystique of the music industry is having your studio in some obscure location. The music business will always be the envy of the world in many ways.

          1. chrisdorr

            Actually, less about obscurity, then being located all over the place, from people’s homes to right across from the Beverly Center (hidden in plain sight) as no one knows it is there–no signs to indicate its existence. It is just the nature of digital recording technology that you can easily locate a high end recording studio wherever you want–not like the old days.

    3. awaldstein

      LA without a car is kinda a non starter.NY with one is the same for me.Felt great moving from there to here, trading my Audio S4 for a subway pass and a ZipCar account.(Do miss the car a bit though. Malibu a great deal!)

      1. markslater

        i had that car. then kids…..great trade, but what a car!

        1. awaldstein

          Yup….I love the cycles of life as they just keep on going.

    4. fredwilson

      Today that is true. But will it be true in a world with driverless cars and Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber on our phones?

      1. BillMcNeely

        Speaking to Fred’s point, Dallas is kind of of like LA but I believe Uber had it most successful launch ever here in Dallas.

        1. pointsnfigures

          If we extrapolate into the future with all driverless vehicles-planes, trains, trucks and autos, apps on the phone will be huge. Done right, a fundamental shift in society. More production.I think Andreesen is right, less traffic, more efficiency, less noise and pollution, and many parking lots will be changed into buildings or parks.On demand transportation, or Just in Time transportation.

      2. LE

        Have you ever lived for an extended period of time in the suburbs? My guess is you haven’t.When you live in the city it’s an edge case that you need a car. And when you do you either hitch a ride or you can zipcar etc. [1]If you live in the suburbs you need a car period. Actually you need two cars if you are married. And if you have kids you will probably get them a car as well so they can get around. And even if there is public transportation you need a car. Chance of most suburbanites (who can afford cars) riding the bus? Zip.Why do you have a vacation home instead of using a hotel? It’s not just because there are not hotels near your vacation homes. It’s because when you own you can come and go as you please and, most importantly, there is no planning overhead or coordinating. If you actually look at the number of days you spend at your place divided by the total cost you know it’s a non starter compared to going to a nice hotel. I spent maybe 3 days last summer at my place. But even if I spent 30 days it still would be cheaper to go to a nice hotel and where my place is there are nice hotels.[1] My younger brother in law just got married and lives in Manhattan. For the last 4 years I’ve known him he’s used zipcar or gotten his mommy and daddy to pick him up because he doesn’t own a car. Now that he is married he needs to move to the suburbs and will end up needing to buy probably 2 cars even though he will live near a rr station that gets him into Manhattan. That’s my prediction he doesn’t think he will.

        1. ShanaC

          I think if zoning permitted it, my suburb could use a few zipcar locations and serve most of the neighborhood that way. Really depends on location and car usage (areas where you have to get to work by car would be harder for this model to take off)

        2. ShanaC

          Depends on what his wife does. I think a friend of mine is in this position, and I would be his wife drops him off before she goes to work.

          1. LE

            Assumes people have jobs with fixed and predictable hours and work is coordinated and in the same place.A big if.With neighbors, they had something like this in the 70’s. It was called “car pooling” (I’m saying this in jest as there is still some car pooling obviously).Ntim, my wife has to get to work way earlier than I do. No way would I wake up to drive her to work! And why should I? We can afford and pay for two cars. And I work all sorts of strange hours anyway. I don’t leave at a set predictable time I leave when I get done what I have to do and when I feel like leaving. The idea though of having to work the hours that I end up working and (and this is important) not being able to leave if I want would make me feel totally confined and I would hate it.That said of course there are people that can and do make a situation work.The other reason a zip car is confining is that you pay for it per diem (or per use). So anything you want to do spontaneously is linked to a payment which is front and center. Want to just go out and stop by the Target? Can’t do it. Want to just pickup some bagels? Want to go to starbucks? It kills the fun. It limits both actual freedom and the perception of freedom.

  14. Brandon Burns

    The Andreessen article is dense with so much to talk about. But I’d like to single out this:Q: What about marketing? How will companies reach their customers five years from now?A: One: I know for sure that most offline marketing spending is going to move online in the next five to 10 years. The reason I know that for sure is because most consumer attention is moving online. Two: The consumer Internet media industry has done a terrible job over the last 20 years at giving brands the marketing solutions that they need.#1 hasn’t happened yet because #2 is still going on. I’m experiencing the importance of this fact first hand right now.One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in launching Wander & Trade is that in-person marketing is **at least** an order of magnitude more effective than online marketing. We got a booth at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar (come say hi!). Here are some lessons:If you consider the people who come to our table at the Bazaar and then walk away a “bounced” visitor, its probably half our online bounce rate (which is already stellar).Our conversion rate of people who come to the table and actually buy something is easily 10x more than our online conversion rate (which is also already healthy).When we approach vendors to sell with us, of the ones that say no, 90+% of them say something like, “We’re not interested in online.” At first I was convinced they were all idiots for staying true to brick & mortar. Now I know that’s not entirely the case.Online marketing and distribution simply doesn’t compare to talking to people in person and letting them touch and feel and experience your product. And if its ever going to compare, its going to have to get a lot closer to what in-person marketing can do. And we’re a long ways off.

    1. Brandon Burns

      @pointsnfigures:disqus, been thinking about your thoughts on brick & mortar a ton lately.

      1. Richard

        Big city Retail presence is the new marketing tool. 5th ave NY, retail space is north of 3000/sf. Think Apple.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Lots of feet walk by that location.

        2. ShanaC

          actually if you want a better example – madison ave stores tend to make very small amounts of cash per square foot for luxury goods if I had to guess for this reason πŸ™‚

        3. JamesHRH

          Was in Paris 2 years ago, major car brands all have boutiques on the Champs D’Elyssee.

      2. pointsnfigures

        Done correctly as we talked about, there is opportunity. There was a good article in the WSJ on shopping malls and how crowded they still are. The failures in retail are from retailers that don’t understand the new paradigm. Sears, JCP etc.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Some folks like to window shop in RL but place orders online.

        2. BillMcNeely

          I had a conversation with the store manager of the Target I work at. I was trying to impress on him that we should be using social media like FourSquare and Twitter to engage with our guests more. He told me guests only want a 1 dimensional retail experience. I think Gary Vee would object.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Brandon and I have talked about that in a broader sense. Designing brick and mortar with mobile as a core strategy is important. Ironically, financial exchanges didn’t do this and now their universe is collapsing-even though volume is growing.

          2. BillMcNeely

            I wrote a piece last week called Retailers who Embrace Mobile will Have a Happy Holiday

    2. fredwilson

      He’s right

    3. Salt Shaker

      Online shopping is commodity based, while brick & mortar is tactile and far more experiential.

    4. ShanaC

      when is the brooklyn night bazaar? and where?

      1. Brandon Burns

        fridays and saturdays, 6p – midnight. banker and wythe, in williamsburg / greenpoint.

    5. JamesHRH

      When I was a car guy ad guy, working with dealers at the association level (90 dealers were my client basically), you would hear all the maxims:- ‘have to drive it’- ‘touch & feel’They were all true.I had a colleague in local media sales tell his biggest client (furniture dealer) that ‘you just dropped over $10,000 on advertising (on site radio remote w our stations) but decided to save $500 employing gum chewing 18 year olds which likely cost you $100,000 in sales.’That’s bouncing traffic all right.I just spent 2 hours in Detroit looking for a particular shoe requirement for a family member, only to find out that the product’s recent redesign has totally gutted its fit & feel (even though the aesthetics would make it not appear to have happened).You are on target here, for sure. I could run this list to 1000 examples I bet.Amazon solved this problem in its usual awesomely simple, ground up way: zero question, hassle free returns.Find Wander & Trade intriguing – congrats.

    6. JamesHRH

      Free trials.

  15. pete jordan

    Interesting. And true for me – I owned my first cell phone before I owned my first car! Also, I miss the audio of each post :). Either way, thanks for posting, great points all around.

  16. Matt A. Myers

    The biggest freedom, IMHO, to the shared economy is not having to have a whole pile of material goods you’re responsible for, tied to you, holding you down, etc..

  17. Tom Labus

    You ask a kid in Nebraska if he wants a car or a smartphone and my guess is he wants a car to get the hell out there.But why not have both, that’s more American

    1. andyswan

      Right on– no one has ever written a song about their phone. Songs about cars on the other hand…. you could argue for a top-40 list.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Springsteen: “I’m driving in my Android. I turn on the Spotify. I’m holdin’ you close…” uh, nm.

        1. JamesHRH

          That’s priceless……especially if you do it with the Robin Willaims / Elmer Fudd voice.

          1. JimHirshfield


    2. pointsnfigures

      Omaha isn’t that bad. One of the most livable cities in America.

      1. Tom Labus

        Been there, liked it. Plus Warren

      2. ShanaC

        how cold is it (I say as an ice storm rolls into the midwest)

        1. pointsnfigures

          Around the same as Chicago. Summer a little hotter, especially in August. They have an earlier spring in Nebraska than Chicago. Chicago is the best summer city in America, and can be pretty tough in the winter.

          1. ShanaC

            yeah…not for me…

    3. falicon

      Take the car…sell it, get a bike AND a cellphone.

      1. pointsnfigures

        moving to china? : )

      2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        That is what my 10-year old son wants …. a bike and a cellphone …not the car ….car is for me (oldy).

    4. JamesHRH

      Check out someone like the author John Green (The Fault in our Stars). Has a global career and lives in Indy (lives pretty large too).

  18. John Fazzolari

    It’s not just about smartphones over cars but really just millennials placing more value on experiences rather than owning things. The smartphone is the key to many of these experiences and therefore has become a symbol for my generation. I’d also expect that most millennials would rather not own a home- it’s another example of something that restricts freedom and leads to unwanted worries about things like payments and insurance. In a recent chat with Jason Calcanis, Dave McClure talked about how everybody thinks owning a home is such an awesome thing. Yet you can lose 20x your investment on a house. And nobody knows what they’re doing. I think today’s teens are starting to realize that and are going to continue to choose to invest in experiences, not possessions.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      liked the analysis on ‘experience’ vs ‘possession’…+1But will that change when they reach their 30’s … as far as I remember … as teens we also wanted to have as many dates as possible but wanted to finally possess one and settle down…I also thought what an idiotic thing to own a house …when i was a teen… but eventually built one when i was 39.

      1. andyswan

        It’s no surprise that young people want to live an income-statement life and then realize that a balance sheet might be in order.

        1. John Fazzolari

          True Andy. And living in NYC I’ve seen a lot of that over the last few years. However, when somebody is six figures in debt and there is no real light at the end of the tunnel it’s hard to convince them to get a balance sheet in order. Personally, I’ve been fortunate not to be in this situation and can’t really judge those who are as I’ve never been in their shoes and don’t know what I’d do. Also, experience vs possession is more about what you’re spending money on and not really about keeping the balance sheet in order. It’s about spending more money on things such as travel and not a gigantic SUV that adds little value from an “experience” perspective.

          1. andyswan

            I always hear this about gigantic SUVs and pickup trucks…and yet I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that actually owns one and doesn’t have good reason for it. Maybe that’s rampant in other areas of the country? I don’t get the weird judgement of what others drive.For the record, I currently drive a shitty 2006 Tahoe and that’s a DAILY experience I’m looking forward to changing!

          2. John Fazzolari

            You can drive w/e you want Andy and you know I’d never judge you! However, in the Northeast there are definitely a lot of people driving huge SUVs without good reason. It’s also great marketing by the automobile industry who were able to convince Americans that they’ll never have enough room for everybody. Wonder if there are stats on this somewhere.

          3. andyswan

            No I hear ya. I’ve just been in NE before and heard the “what does he need that big (SUV/truck for)… it’s empty!” line one too many times.Ya dumbass, it’s empty now… but tonight he’s taking the entire family to football practice and stopping by lowes on the way home.

          4. LE

            The last SUV’s I owned were ML350’s. I used to think that I needed one for business. To go and pickup things at home depot and office max etc. Also to be able to get to work in all weather. I also liked being high up off the ground.Well a few things came together. One was I moved my office to within 4 minutes of where I lived. The other was broadband got much better. The third was the ability to get almost anything delivered that I used to have to go pickup. Faster than me running out and picking it up.

          5. LE

            I don’t get the weird judgement of what others drive.I wish I had a name for this effect. I’m know there is some kind of psychological principle that could be dug up to describe it.It goes like this. Where ever you draw the line is where the line should be drawn.For example, if you cheat on your taxes the amount you cheat is the right amount.Anyone who does more is “a thief”.Anyone who does less is “really honest”.If you go to church or synagogue anyone who attends less “ignores religion” and attends more is “really religious”.Or take speeding. Or drinking. An endless list.We tend to in other words generally judge people with relation to what we do or see as right. (So what is this called, anyone?)Anyway, getting back to your “good reason for an SUV”. There are many mothers in suburbia that have SUV’s so they can shuttle a group of kids to numerous sports practices. And since I don’t view sports practice as important I therefore am going to think that a SUV for that purpose isn’t needed. And others might think that an SUV isn’t needed if it only snows 1 or 2 times per season. Etc.So the “weird judgement” makes total sense if you look at it through the lens of what we each feel is the way life should be lived.

          6. andyswan

            Excellent analysis of a stupid norm.

      2. John Fazzolari

        I’m not 30 yet so I can’t argue your points.I definitely don’t think owning a house is idiotic, just something that millennials are going to be more careful about. The timing of this purchase can dramatically change one’s life, for better or worse. Real estate values don’t always go up.

    2. ErikSchwartz

      “just millennials placing more value on experiences rather than owning things” — The reason there is and has been a car culture in the US is that in many cases owning a car is the experience.Why do people buy a Mercedes when a Toyota will get them there just as well?

      1. John Fazzolari

        Valid point and in other cultures this is taken to an extreme when things like car racing become a hobby. However, at core most people purchase cars as a simple + easy method of transportation in suburban areas or out of a city on the weekends. When used for this purpose driving a car is not a true experience- at least for me.

      2. LE

        Agree.Why do people buy a Mercedes when a Toyota will get them there just as well?MB is a “better car” and it doesn’t even matter if the value is a multiple that makes sense either. [1] MB is a party in your brain [2] and also conveys to others (not everyone but many) status. Most importantly as I say it’s not what others think it’s what you think they think. So if the immigrant buys the MB and thinks they are the shit for having achieved that dream that’s what matters. Not whether the person seeing them in the car gives a shit or not.[1] The better value doesn’t always matter. If you are buying a toaster oven and one oven is $170 and “better” in some way but the one at $90 is the “better value” and “almost as good” as the $170 one if the $80 doesn’t mean anything to you who cares what the better value is?[2] Part of the “experience”.

  19. andyswan

    “A smartphone can get you a ride but a car can’t get you a date. The smartphone wins.”I’ve never heard anyone refer to their smartphone as “the panty-dropper”.Gonna have to call bullshit on this one!

    1. markslater

      try carrot andy.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      A car also gives a teen a place to be alone with his date.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        How direct! You’re supposed to bediscreet and wrap in circumlocution!

    3. Harrison Weber


    4. ShanaC

      I know at least one guy who was using his phone in that sort of way until he met his current girlfriend πŸ™‚

    5. Henry Glover

      Snapchat would probably disagree…

    6. BillMcNeely

      Ah you have not been to Lebanon!

      1. Ulysse Sabbag

        Having an iPhone in Lebanon makes panties drop? I’m actually pretty interested in that.

  20. leigh

    That’s an interesting thought but I’m not a 100% sure that the smartphone represents freedom as much as they do air. But it poses an interesting question that I”m now putting on my list……if we get to it by end of year i’ll let you know what we find out.

  21. RichardF

    in the words of the great Johnny Mac, you cannot be serious…..since when did a smartphone replace making out in the back of a car

    1. JimHirshfield

      Need the date before you can get into the back seat.

      1. RichardF

        nah you don’t that’s what the lift home is for πŸ˜‰

        1. JimHirshfield


  22. William Mougayar

    And smartphones are about to become free via ad support. We touch them 110 times per day apparently.

  23. Sofia Fenichell

    I am saddened by this post. Smartphones don’t represent freedom anymore than Facebook represents real community. The type of community Malcolm Gladwell writes about where cancer rates are lower and that solves problems like looking after your kids when you are in a bind. Making car payments can also be defining for a young person in that it teaches them responsibility and ownership. This can help them build confidence to believe they can ‘own their own future’ and create something meaningful. Small but ordinary accomplishments like paying for your car can be the foundation of greater things to come.I am techie but also a mom. We need to be careful about assuming that technologies which enhance our daily life can substitute for the broader and deeply important aspect of human experience and the emotional capacity to learn.

    1. JLM

      .Do you know your neighbors?I was the reluctant President of my neighborhood association and met face to face with every one of my neighbors — 640 homes x 2.5/home — and created a DB of emails, cell phones and snail mail.To this day, I still howdy folks who I know and they know me. I always introduce myself to folks out walking. My wife thinks I am nuts (for which there is a not inconsiderable body of evidence extant).It was and is great fun.You want to know your neighbors/community then you have to be a good neighbor.Long after I was no longer the President, I was asked to speak at the dedication of a memorial to one of our neighbors in a little neighborhood park.I told the person who asked me to speak that I was no longer the President and she said: “But you’re still the voice of the neighborhood.” It was a great honor and I recall with great joy being able to extol the virtues of this woman who was truly remarkable. I was the one being honored really.We all need to reach out to each other because everyone is so damn interesting when you get to know them. There are no simple stories in life.JLM.

      1. falicon

        I love your leadership style.On a related note, we have a new principle in our kids little private school (3rd one in the past 3 years actually as a ripple effect of a legal scandal)…one of the things that has been *really* bugging me is that he has not yet reached out to the individual families for at least a brief, one-on-one conversation.Our entire school has about 120 families…large enough to be chore to connect with them all for sure, but not so large that you can’t turn it into an extended family, all focused on one goal (the education of our kids).He started in July…his latest thing is to send a weekly email that is a one sentence blurb and a link to a newsletter outlining some activities the school will be doing in the next week…so he’s *trying* (and learning — it’s his first principal gig)…but so far I’m underwhelmed with the approach he’s been executing…though I still hold out hope (in the meantime, if you want to come run the school — you’ve got my vote!). πŸ™‚

        1. JLM

          .Put together a lunch or dinner and invite him to welcome him to the school. Take the initiative that he should have.Introduce him around and give him an outline of what you want him to speak to and I bet he will do it.People are sometimes so awkward about things like basic welcome and friendship.JLM.

          1. falicon

            Great suggestions. Because we are fairly active in the school, we’ve already talked with him a lot (so it’s more about what I want him to do with other parents)…but I agree, if I don’t like the current results/actions, I should take it upon myself to fix the problems I see.I will make it happen. Thanks!

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Yup, do part of his work for him.Or, another case of don’t cursethe darkness but light a candle.I’m slowly concluding that that is one of the keys to getting alongwith people and being a good leader. E.g., when I think aboutthe girl 13 I walked away from whenI was 15, due to a mistake she made,I blame myself for being a poor leader before where I let some poorcommunications last far too longand poor leadership afterward whereI failed to guide her in understandingwhat was wrong and what we shoulddo about it. Had I done a little of her work for her, the results mighthave been really good.Generally before criticizing or givingup, have to try to see why the otherperson did wrong and try to helpthem understand and correct. Ifthey feel guilty, then can have moreof their attention and can do reallywell. That helped them when theywere wrong might be glue strongerthan the original material.

          3. JamesHRH

            People like JLM know that you lead by showing the way, not pointing it out.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            We may be in agreement until my lastparagraph, and there may still be placesfor that.

        2. ShanaC

          how is the school itself?

          1. falicon

            Being a small school, it really depends on the community and parents around it…so I think it’s good (even won a Blue Ribbon award for academic excellence last year)…is it worth the tuition (compared to public school that our taxes already cover)? Hard to say (it’s a debate we constantly have year-after-year in our house)…but our kids are happy there, are challenged there (so far), and are growing there…so for this specific moment in time, it works for us. πŸ™‚

      2. Sofia Fenichell

        I love both of your comments Falicon and JLM. I am worried about the next generation. I employ amazing young people. I love their energy and their creativity. But when I look around at the world of ‘constant selfies’ and the idea that ‘freedom is defined as not paying for car payments’ I get really sad. We need to use technology to create inspiration and efficiency that enriches the fabric of our lives. I totally get the sharing economy. The idea that there is inefficiency to be taken out of the system by creating a sharing economy. This is not the same as defining freedom as not having car payments. Car payments are not a matter of enslavement. They are there because someone chose them. In this respect, smart phone payments would also be enslavements. And I am not sure what a smart phone has to do with Freedom at all.

        1. jim

          You should like a car loan processor from a shitty bank.

      3. CJ

        There is an older guy from my old neighborhood. I see him from time to time when I visit my mom and other family still there. When I see him I shake his hand and call him Mr. X. Why? Because he’s the voice of the neighborhood. He was the guy we all looked up to as a kid, the one you knew would resolve any problems, keep you out of trouble and still have a bit of fun by dropping in on a softball game. He was in good with the do-gooders and the criminals and they all respect him to this day. I miss that about my old neighborhood, as great as my new neighborhood is, I feel like this element is just a relic of a bygone era and it’s sad.

    2. ShanaC

      why don’t phone payments do the same?

      1. Sofia Fenichell

        They do! It’s just that neither represent freedom. That is just a really pathetic analogy for technology empowering people. Smartphones are addictive and useful. Elevating the discussion to a freedom call is like elevating a ‘selfie’ to a work of art. They are both cool and great but let’s not go overboard here. At the end of the day, we have alot of societal problems still to answer for as a result of our beloved technology.

        1. JamesHRH

          Totally agree.Really large piles of ready cash and a reputable passport are the strongest symbols of freedom.They are not much of a life, on their own, but they are freedom.

          1. Sofia Fenichell

            That’s funny! And true. πŸ™‚

    3. PhilipSugar

      You know you nailed what I was thinking. I watch kids so busy looking at their phones they can barely walk on a sidewalk. I was thinking the other day: its a beautiful fall day, you are on a beautiful college campus, there are so many interesting people walking, and yet half of the students are nose deep into their Smartphones. I know it can’t be for something “important” just something that seems so.

      1. Sofia Fenichell

        It’s a funny one. We are techies but we are also deeply aware of how life is changing around us – in some ways for the better, in some ways not and in most ways beyond our comprehension. We have the responsibility to act with great awareness and thoughtful intent. That is a start at least. I follow many of your comments Philip and really enjoy the discussion.

    4. Andrew Hoydich

      real community vs not-real community. This argument will go on as long as people don’t understand that both types of community can co-exist, and can enhance each other. There isn’t just 1 ultimate definition of community. Pros and Cons exist in and around everything ever. Things also change and evolve.That being said I agree with you on the whole “representing freedom” thing. I don’t think it makes sense and is a very dangerous label to place on a smartphone. I do think they play a crucial role in participating in today’s society (like the role the car used to play), but “representing freedom” may be going a little too far.

      1. Sofia Fenichell

        love it

    5. CJ

      I don’t see how a car does this anymore than a smartphone. It just gives you a bigger burden of responsibility for a smaller return. I can Uber/Hailo a ride, I can’t conjure up a smartphone with a car.

  24. laurie kalmanson

    matt and kim, sidewalks…suburbia is such a giant fail; phones/computers can connect people stuck in houses in cul de sacs away from cities

    1. pointsnfigures

      I totally disagree that suburbia is a giant fail. It’s one of the great things in America. Better schools, safe life for family. Room to run. I grew up in a middle class suburb, lived in a far ex-burb (60 mi outside the city limits) and lived next to the lake in downtown Chicago. Each has its appeal. Suburbs are growing, cities are not growing as fast or losing to the suburbs. Core city areas are growing, but cities are so inefficient and expensive, families are being chased out.

      1. LE

        “Better schools, safe life for family.”Also tight ass control over signage and development.If you got to parts of Philly (say the northeast as only one example) you will see a hodgepodge of development and signage that is truly distracting or ugly. In the Philly suburbs that is all controlled by pain in the ass locals who keep things nice and are on your ass about everything. And there is certainly more accountability. Not to mention the fact that if you have to visit city government you don’t get patronage hacks who are lazy and waiting for their next smoking break.

    2. LE

      suburbia is such a giant failReasons?

      1. laurie kalmanson

        cars, flying or otherwise…city born, i spend endless hours driving now; looking forward to city life again asap

  25. BillMcNeely

    “A smartphone can get you a ride but a car can’t get you a date. The smartphone wins.” Money line. By the way when you turned you son down for the car did you use this line? πŸ™‚

  26. BillMcNeely

    In the Army we say you need to shoot, move and communicate. The smartphone takes care of 2 of those things. Texting, calling, skyping etc and moving, whether through hailing a cab on Hailo or finding broader transportation option son @RideScout in DC or Austin.

    1. JLM

      .Yep.Shoot, move, communicate.Find ’em, fix ’em, kill ’em.Some things never change.JLM.

  27. Julien

    To me the idea that we can ‘consume’ services rather than ‘own’ goods is an amazing proof that the wealth distribution is increasing.Back in the day, if you wanted to ride a car from A to B, you had to own the car and the investment was huge, even if you only wanted to ride it once every couple days. it means that the ride from A to B was probably only for those who could afford a “full car”. It’s not true anymore, you can experience the same car ride, without paying the full price for car ownership.

  28. markslater

    the big techtonic shift is seeing this generation move away from Ownership and consumption as the aspirational markers in life to one of shared experiences, and complete freedoms to live in stereo – not in kids will most def say – “why on earth would you ever sit in traffic for an hour dad”? thats so mono.

    1. JLM

      .Yes and no.Yes, everything you say is perfectly correct.No, your kids — when ejected from the warmth of the nest into the cold cruel world — will ask: “Whoa, Dad, how am I going to afford the lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to. Dad, Dad?”Answer: “I couldn’t afford the lifestyle that I live now when I was your age either. Suck it up. You can still come skiing and to the beach but now you are what we call a “guest” or a “pest”.’Always keep them close, you’re only coming this way once.JLM.

  29. Jamyn

    Hmm, now what cool stuff could you do with a car PLUS a smartphone? I know, Dash! Sweet beta invites for Android users here ( and if you are in NYC and would like free hardware, we can get that to you as well! Ping me at [email protected] – BTW, I hope this doesn’t violate any informal rules of this board – if it does, I am sorry and happy to remove, but I thought this was a direct link to the topic and, y’know, service-y, what with free stuff. πŸ™‚

    1. ShanaC

      no worries about self promotion

      1. Jamyn

        Thank you. πŸ™‚

  30. Salt Shaker

    If you all had dates you wouldn’t be techies today. It’s sort of a prerequisite.

    1. LE

      Totally 2nd that. Popularity and good looks in high school tend to result in many distractions that give you less time to hit the books. A gross generalization but I can think of many people (at least when I was growing up) that this is true for. Of course people can come up with exceptions to this with some famous people but for every Bill Clinton there was Hillary Rodham.Here’s a guy that I knew in high school. Totally couldn’t get a date. (Was also obsessed with cars btw.)About 8 years ago I checked in with him and found out he had divorced his first wife. So I offered to fix him up (with a doctor) and he thanked me and said he had more dates than he knew what to do with. Literally every night a different woman.…(He did end up getting remarried..)Here’s another one from the neighborhood that tried and failed to get a date with my sister, he’s now a tenured medical school professor:http://www.uoflphysicians.c…(He ended up marrying a younge gorgeous southern belle not sure if they are still married).On guy #2 kids from the neighborhood used to derogatorily call him a name that is typically used with gay men [1] because he was inside studying so much and didn’t want to hang out.[1] google “bundle of sticks” for the answer.

    2. ShanaC

      i had a boyfriend in high school and I am a techie.. No relationship whatsoever πŸ™‚

      1. Salt Shaker

        LOL…It’s a probability game…You helped keep the % lower…Doubt we’re looking at a standard bell curve πŸ™‚

  31. JLM

    .Sometimes I think I live on a different planet.Kids don’t choose between a smartphone and a car, the want and get BOTH except when they don’t actually need a car, because of their local living conditions like in NYC.Kids are getting smartphones when they are 6 years old not 20-something. Why? A phone is a utility — safety — for a parent. I hate the notion that a kid gets what was once an expensive phone but when they represent a lifeline, they are not only necessary they are utilitarian and provide great peace of mind for their parents.Kids not only want a smartphone — they want a tablet and a laptop. These have now devolved into educational implements like a pad and paper. They are not frills, they are necessary.The decision to get a car is often faced at the earliest age of driving — in Texas that’s 16. Most kids are getting cars in some small fashion to liberate Mom. Mom — soccer/dance/football/education Moms — are the ones getting the freedom.Pro tip: Dispense with the guilt feelings and put a damn GPS chip in the car so you can tell exactly where they are at all times. Could literally be a lifesaver.How a child rises to the challenge of operating and maintaining that car is a critical learning experience for a kid. If you “lend” them the money to buy their first car, all the better.JLM.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      Great analysis JLM. When I was younger I did not want a cell phone or a car. My parents made me get both because they were sick of driving me to work and were concerned about my safety. I learned to appreciate them after the fact.

    2. Dan T

      i’m with you. I live in South Florida – used to live in Philly burbs. 4 kids – 15, 15, 13, 11 – I WANT to buy my daughter a car (and she still sees it as freedom)- so she can transform from demand to supply in the crazy pickup/drop-off business that my wife manages on a daily basis > which can only work as long as they all have cell phones on them to keep it in synch (the youngest one does not yet).

      1. JLM

        .If Dad calls and you fail to answer by the second ring, your phone gets turned off and you are grounded for an indeterminate time.Happened once and only once.The Transportation Slave — Mom — gets liberated but there are requirements.Also always arm your kids with cars which weigh more than 4000 lbs so they come out first in all collisions.JLM.

        1. Dan T

          great advice. perhaps you can add parent coaching to CEO coaching!

          1. JLM

            .Might be the high hurdles as my darling wife constantly encourages me to write a book: “How Not To Parent”.She says to just write down everything I ever did. There could be a grain of truth in that.Having said that, my kids have turned out so well that I am proud beyond belief of them. I attribute all of the credit to my wife.I just had to pay for it all.Best advice ever — tire the crap out of them every day by forcing them to participate in tiring activities. They are immune to the Devil when sleeping — might have to be non-REM sleep.JLM.

        2. JamesHRH

          I will be putting that in the file for future reference.

    3. Dale Allyn

      Glad you brought this up, JLM. I’m late today, so before I entered a comment to suggest part of what you cover here, I, of course, read the comments, to find yours.Marc’s remark highlighted above regarding today’s kids “100%” choosing a smartphone over a car is waayyyyy off. It’s illustrative for his point, of course, but if it bears any accuracy at all, it would apply almost only to urban dwellers. And I mean “really URBAN” at that. Any young person I know outside of dense urban areas would take the car over a smart phone. But as you say, they’ll mostly end up with both. Do people in large cities realize there are young people who have never been in a taxi or rental car? Some have never been on a subway, L-train, B.A.R.T. or similar.This dichotomy of thought and experience is what contributes to some of our nation’s poor election decisions and policy.

      1. andyswan

        My kids get VERY excited when they see a yellow car “like the taxi-cabs Dad rides in in New York City!”

        1. Dale Allyn

          Ha, that’s great. Aspiring to go to the big city with dad!

      2. ShanaC

        more young people are trying to move to dense urban areas – it is where the jobs are.

        1. Dale Allyn

          I get this, Shana, and this is not terribly new. But there are a lot of areas where young people still live at home or near home and work in a larger metro area by commuting a bit (often due to housing costs). Urban areas certainly provide more social access as well. I’m just not fond of generalizations which only (or mostly) apply to places like NYC, LA, SF, Seattle and Chicago. There are a lot of great places beyond those.I have wealthy friends who live in NYC and they have no car. They travel by taxi and town car. However, in my area of northern California (not San Francisco where parking is a hassle) people have cars, kids get cars at around 16-17 years of age and become independent in terms of transportation rather early. But at the same time I’m observing those kids still living with parents well into their 20’s (if not off to college) because rents are so high for acceptable digs.It’s good for us to use our “wide angle lens” as we look such things. For a startup, though, it makes perfect sense to figure out what those in dense population areas will embrace quickly. That’s a different conversation. πŸ™‚

          1. LE

            I have wealthy friends who live in NYC and they have no car. They travel by taxi and town car.I don’t get that. If you are “wealthy” it most certainly pays to have a car on standby if just as a way to escape the city quickly if there is some reason you feel you don’t want to be trapped in Manhattan. Edge case but if money is no object why not be prepared?If you are living in a 10 million dollar apartment in NYC what’s the cost of a car, insurance and parking to have a vehicle ready in the even you need to make a quick escape with your family? And of course you can use it for out of city travel as well. After all some of the wealthy in NY think nothing of keeping multiple homes out of the city which are probably rarely used. And god knows spending money on plenty of things that would be seen as a waste to others.By the way if you don’t see people doing this it’s because there is no social proof that others do it. If all the sudden it became typical for rich people to have cars for edge use then rich people would have cars and fight over parking.

          2. Dale Allyn

            It’s an unusual situation I suppose. They’re wonderful people who vacation very well (stay in fantastic places, travel very comfortably, etc.) and yet prefer what to them is a simplified lifestyle while at home in NYC. They’ve worked very hard to arrive to their present state of comfort and security, and only acquire that which simplifies their process in a meaningful way to them. My choices in this regard (car) would be different, but I wouldn’t be staying so close to the city.I know one other very successful person (i.e. 10’s of $MM, not billions) who moved from an affluent area in CA to NYC. He kept one of his cars (a very well appointed MB S-class), but after two years there, sold it because he wasn’t using it enough to warrant keeping it. He’s frugal, but not cheap and simply did the math. I believe he has at least one car at his other home, and has an airplane, but in the City he didn’t like paying a rather high parking fee and watching his car age, unused.

          3. LE

            Sounds like an emotional decision vs. rational (oddly enough).After all people buy and pay for insurance all the time which they never need or use. Just for piece of mind. Going two years and not having a use is certainly no test of whether it’s needed or not (but recognizing everyone’s view of risk is different).As far as frugal, cheap and doing the math what is the value of your safety? (Emotional argument for sure).That said there is no right or wrong answer. I guess though to be on the safe side if you have a ton of money it pays to spend some of that money to insure your safety. And not let it bother you if the parking fee is high or even if you don’t use the car at all or that often. (Because rationally if you have plenty of money why does that really matter?)

          4. Dale Allyn

            In the case of my second example above, it’s possible that he might choose to buy or lease something again if he feels the need.I don’t get the impression that many (or most) NYC residents think a great deal about emergency egress; and those who do might feel the traffic jam sure to ensue would likely curtail the exodus anyway. πŸ˜‰ You’re quite right that personal safety vis-a-vis this topic will be a matter of personal comfort and definitions. And by the way: neither of these couples have children, so that can also factor a bit.In each of my examples, they have an almost fully consigned relationship with specific town car owners. I’ve had the pleasure of using one of them while there and the owner/driver is like family to my friend. While I’m one to want my own transportation, I brought up these examples to illustrate how others approach it differently and are content with their choices. Oh, and I should add that neither have or likely would ever use zipcar or citybike, etc.Horses for courses. πŸ˜‰

          5. Jacob Rideout

            Well, not owning a car is now somewhat of a status marker in many circles.Wealthy in NYC is a big long-tailed continuum. $250k/year household with 2 working adults is very different than $600k/year. Sure both are high-income by national standards, but the accumulation of income for both is probably very different.

          6. LE

            Well, not owning a car is now somewhat of a status marker in many circles.Sure in the same way that bragging about not having to sleep 8 hours is some kind of a marker of high ability in some people’s minds. Or back in the day people used to brag that they didn’t own or watch tv (this was back before the internet or streaming etc.) Or people attaching a value to being autistic. Essentially turning a traditional negative into a positive.

    4. ShanaC

      and yet most students don’t have laptops in school yet :/

  32. Matt Zagaja

    An interesting point on the cell phones. Bill Clinton talked about his work in Haiti in a video in this month’s WIRED and mentioned that when they bought boats for the fisherman they also bought them cell phones and that increased their revenue 30% because they could look up market rates, etc.

  33. jstylman

    “Smartphones represent freedom”I appreciate the point that Marc – and you – are making here, but this quote is actually quite sad to me, especially in the context of the car analogy.As a 17 yr old, I vividly remember saving to buy a car – a clunker, but still a car – and it being (perceived) freedom for me. That meant getting out of my folks house and having the ability to go anywhere I wanted. More often than not, it involved face-to-face interaction with other people. Friends, girls, etc. There were some great times, some stupid and dangerous, but most importantly, all were experiences that helped shape the man I’ve become.In a culture when you walk down the street and see a good portion of the population starring at their devices, does freedom come to mind? Don’t “free” people want more of that human interaction? No, not through a pixelated Google Hangout screen, but in real life. Don’t they want to create, not just consume?Fred, it’s not lost on me that the implicit point of Marc’s comment and your subsequent post was that a smartphone can now be a gateway to those interactions. Often, they are. Still, if we’re being honest with ourselves, is that really what’s happening at the macro level? Even when friends, young and old, are together in groups, look at the dynamics and a large portion of people are looking at their phones, not truly present in the moment they’re in.Given the dependency we all seem to have on our phones these days, I think a more accurate statement would be:”Smartphones represent captivity” Note: I recognize that I’m a total hypocrite, as I read your post this morning, and am now writing this comment, from my iPhone.

  34. LE

    A smartphone can get you a ride but a car can’t get you a date.Actually, if you are a guy in high school a nice car most certainly goes a long way in helping you get a date.

  35. howardlindzon

    The other big seachange spreads beyond cars to things….we will want and need less of them as they come freely and on demand

    1. JLM

      .In many ways, this is the efficient use of capital writ large.Businesses like the Registry Collection allow folks to have access to thousands of multi-million dollar vacation homes at a very low cost.If it flys, floats, fornicates, depreciates or votes — RENT it.JLM.

      1. LE

        Sure but just the same seeing the pride that you have in some of the things that you own or you have built there is definitely something to be said for the difference between owning vs. renting or borrowing something.There is psychic benefit to ownership and possession.After all what is the main difference between very well made costume jewelry and very well made real jewelry? (Or watches or whatever). (Short answer is there is no halo in your mind around something that is fake.)

  36. howardlindzon

    by the way i cant drop links in to my comments here…thats a biug!

    1. pointsnfigures

      Me neither….have to type them by hand. Must be Stocktwits discrimination!

  37. kirklove

    The sentiment (phone over car) might very well be true down the line, though I hope I raise Bean and Sprout to be smart enough to take the car, sell it online, then buy phones and pocket the hefty proceeds. πŸ˜‰

  38. jason wright

    i keep reading the quote, and for me the thinking just doesn’t hang together. it’s a self reinforcing set of assumptions. not what i would expect from a successful vc.surprising.

  39. Kirsten Lambertsen

    It’s really interesting reading all the reactions to this.I hang around a whole bunch of people from the newer generations, and Marc’s statements ring true for me. I also think a lot of this dovetails with the new sharing economy. I don’t think people realize what a different culture the new generation is creating for themselves. I have total faith in the future of humanity because of them.

  40. vruz

    I think Marc, for all of his Netscapeness, is a shallow egghead unworthy of praise for this.

  41. Donna Brewington White

    Meaty, thought provoking article. Thanks for sharing.The comments in the article about jobs got my attention — of course:Jobs are critically important, but looking at economic change through the impact on jobs has always been a difficult way to think about economic progress. I agree with this. But I still wonder if we as a society cannot do a better job of proactively preparing people for this shift — retraining, reeducating. Why can’t this be a project taken on by the tech community rather than a government program? The result will be a broader, richer tech workforce? Especially since we have the technology and platforms in place to do this. STEM is not just for kids.

  42. dfooter

    I suspect it depends on where you live. Not having a car in San Diego County means pretty limited ability to hook up. And I think Marc way overestimates the sexiness of a smartphone. But I like his conception of it being a means to freedom.

  43. Darren Mason

    Smartphones do NOT represent freedom. Opportunity maybe, but not freedom as you are still ultimately dependent on others. In the smartphone sans vehicle world you can’t do anything you want whenever you want. You can do a lot of things, but on other people’s timetables and schedules. Kids will continue to buy cars, insurance and gas for the same reason we all do – independence. There is not yet any smartphone + service combo that can recreate the spontaneous, lack of planning adventures that teens crave. Cars still provide a greater independence and level of freedom to live in the moment.

  44. LE

    I don’t have to worry about insurance.Worry about insurance?Who worries about insurance?You buy a car and you pay for auto insurance.You get a bill and you pay the bill.What kind of life do you have if you view buying insurance as something to “worry” about?

  45. LE

    I have complete flexibility.” That is freedom too.Freedom is making enough money so you don’t have to rely on others and/or get their agreement and approval to do what you want to do. That is freedom. Having to depend on others and get their help or approval is the opposite of freedom. To me.Separately, I remember Mark Zuckerberg making a comment some time back, something like “if you asked most people if they’d rather do something with friends or by themselves they’d say with friends”. Well surprise. There are many people who are very happy without having to do things with friends and prefer not to spend time doing things with others. (And they aren’t all lone gunmen either which is partly a society problem as far as assigning negative social status to anyone who doesn’t have a large group of friends. As if everyone who is “normal” functions with a large group of friends and people who love and care for and about them.)

  46. mtrono

    I’d like to see evidence that 100% of teens would choose a smartphone over a car. Maybe someone in their late 20s who’s responsible for making payments (on a car or a mobile carrier plan). But teens – I’m not so sure.

  47. sigmaalgebra

    > a car can’t get you a dateA smart phone doesn’t have a back seat!One time for me in a back seat is burned intomy brain so that I will no more be able to forget it than my own name. I can assureyou that nothing with a smart phone can begin to compare!Mother Nature has arranged that a couple isthe world’s greatest, private, two personamusement park; for that the couple needsto be together; and a smart phone is hardlybetter than a telephone or just passing inthe hall at lunch.The world got to 6 billion people without smart phones, and with high irony currentlythe average number of children born to awoman in Finland is 1.5 from which in 10generations 29 Finns will become 1. Withsmart phones, the Finns are going extinct.Remember, the Finns beat the Swedes,Russians, and Germans but are now losingout even with the great advantages of smartphones. So much for smart phones and dating!Borrowing from JLM, remember, the current generation neither invented nor improved on romance!

  48. sigmaalgebra

    > A smart phone can get you a ride but a car can’tget you a dateAnd this is to suggest a couple doing just what inthe back seat of a cab?And a smart phone doesn’t even have a back seat.Yes, in spite of the blue noses, there actually arecouples in their early teens, say, a boy 15 and agirl 13. Then a big day is when the boy turns 16 andgets his driver’s license. Driver’s license “wins”!Another big day is when the boy gets his own car.In catching chicks, a boy with a car beats a boywith a bicycle nearly every time!Going way back, girls are attracted to power,strength, confidence, money, success, competence,etc. Credit Mother Nature.A flashy Detroit convertible that could effortlesslysmoke the rear tires at a stop light qualified as agreat girl catcher. Now go to the Mercedes AMG site the car sounds strong and even violent. Thesound is deliberate, worked out carefully, and,especially in a turbocharged or supercharged car, isnot much about increasing power by lowering backpressure.Or consider the Mercedes SLS AMG GT as at…For all the emphasis on engineering and even thestyling cues borrowed from the old 300 SL, thestyling of such cars is deliberately ‘sculpture’,’art’ as in ‘communication, interpretation of humanexperience, emotion’ and, often, ‘anthropomorphic’.Net, it’s rolling panty remover!Sounds like as a teenager Mark spent too much timewith C and not enough with cars and girls!

  49. Emil Sotirov

    There are two types of freedom – conservative and transgressive. Choosing from an existing set of options is “conservative”. Striving for something beyond the existing set of options is “transgressive”.In that sense, choosing between a car and a smartphone is a conservative freedom – good to have but not really exciting.Transgressive (and exciting) would be, for example, to strive for a lifestyle that doesn’t involve being physically mobile all the time. It would mean living with very little use for an automobile or a mobile web device.The automated car system Andreessen is talking about might come of age about the time when people would have found ways (thanks to other concurrent tech and social changes) to spend much of their lives at home and within the limits of their walking/biking range. Which would make that system all the more efficient and minimally invasive in our physical surroundings.Hopefully, by that time, people will have the transgressive freedom to not feel a pressure to stay “connected” while walking, biking, or sitting in a local cafe. The mobile device, in that scenario, goes the way of the pack of cigarettes. There is no Google Glass in that scenario. There might be some sort of a hidden wearable device for all kinds of automated functions which do not need our active involvement. That would be a different culture… with different values.Sounds crazy… but that’s my contrarian view of the future.

    1. Emil Sotirov

      Here is a quote Matt (of WP fame) just blogged and tweeted:”Technology is thus enabling arbitrary numbers of people from around the world to assemble in remote locations, without interrupting their ability to work or communicate with existing networks. In this sense, the future of technology is not really location-based apps; it is about making location completely unimportant.”…

  50. OurielOhayon

    “A smartphone can get you a ride but a car can’t get you a date. The smartphone wins “try a ferrari Fred…

  51. PJ Kershaw

    Great post Fred… thanks… it really does make one hone in that we are in the throes of a change as big as industrialisation and that there is SO much opportunity, it is sometimes hard to see the woods for the trees. As far as smartphones getting you girls… a bridge too far.

  52. Holger Luedorf

    Couldn’t agree more.I personally first realized a future with less cars when I first used DriveNow, a BMW-owned car-sharing service, in Munich.The big difference to other car-sharing services like Zipcar is that DriveNow cars can be picked up and dropped off anywhere in the city. They don’t have dedicated lots, but you can literally pick them up on the side of the street. You use a mobile app to find and unlock a car and they negotiated a deal with the city of Munich to lift any of the local parking fees.It is an amazingly liberating feeling to be able to jump in a nearby car at any time in any location of a city. I have a couple of friends who have already sold their cars in Munich due to this service.

    1. Emil Sotirov

      That’s the ultimate implementation. Imagine the big rental car services doing this… + the big car producers doing this … Imagine the effects of competition. The car ownership will be a thing of the past in no time!

    2. fredwilson

      like citibike

  53. froginthevalley

    The conclusion is a great demonstration of Zawinski’s principle (from 2005).

  54. CalebSimpson

    Wow, I never would have saw it like that. But I definitely see that mentality a lot these days…”I can do whatever I want, whenever I want” Sadly though I think the smartphone has made everybody more selfish and self absorbed. Rather than participating in a conversation at a dinner table, people often have their heads down looking at Facebook to see how many likes their last post got. Smartphone may win, but is it really the better option?

  55. Keenan

    Kids don’t want cars today not because they don’t represent freedom and certainly not because the smart phone does, it’s because they don’t have to walk anywhere. Today’s parents drive their kids anywhere they want to go. Parents are friking taxi’s for kids. The minute kids no longer have a way to get to the party, their friends house, etc, they’ll want cars again. We wanted cars because without them we couldn’t get anywhere. Our parents had no qualms with making us figure out our own transportation needs from about 16 on. We had taxi’s but they were too expensive. If you lived in a city, you had public transportation, but most kids lived in the suburbs. It wasn’t too long ago parents didn’t cart their kids around like sherpas. Today, they do. The lack of desire for a car today is in direct relationship to the level we cater to our kids and cart their asses around. Make em walk and you’ll see how quickly they’ll want cars again.

  56. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    If you use a car to win a date the date you are most likely to get is Friday 13th.Sell your soul rather than buying with your car.

  57. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    My first car was bought because I had tax free allowance working for the European patent office. So I bought a 944 before I learned to drive. The free new owners day at the zandfoort circuit was a laugh but had a load of 40 something middle age crises reviewinh their decision.

  58. Andrew Hoydich

    Yeah I’m not sure the whole ‘Freedom’ premise really works here (granted I haven’t watched/read the interview). But if people are looking for an answer to the question of “why would a kid (or person) choose a smartphone over a car?”, I don’t think anyone should be satisfied with “because it represents freedom”Some thoughts:- Cars used to enable people to get to places where social interaction happened. Cars used to connect people. People are now connected on the internet. Meaningful conversations happen on the internet.- Cars allowed you to be a consumer. People are now able to be super-consumers over the internet- Cars used to enable people to participate in many aspects of life and being part of a community/society. People are now able to participate over the internet

  59. Teresa Cheeks

    The day is not far before people realize socializing and transacting online is a farce and that meeting and interacting people is a bliss. There will be more debates and books written on this same very topic that would explain how healthy it is to meet the people in flesh and blood and share emotions. Me think 2020 is when would repeat

  60. george

    Marc made some great points, the shift of change is always happening. You’re either ready for it, or it simply overtakes you. Love the farmer analogy…

  61. paramendra

    Driverless cars. A smartphone that runs on its own because it knows you so well. And it doesn’t run out of juice! That juice part is important. My external battery is heavier than my phone.