Facebook board member Marc Andreessen: Indians should’ve embraced Free Basics—and colonialism

Just a little bit of offence.
Just a little bit of offence.
Image: AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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Update, Feb. 10, 2pm ET: Marc Andreessen has recanted and apologized on Twitter for his tweet. He delivered the apology in a five-part tweetstorm, summarized here.

That Marc Andreessen—a Silicon Valley stalwart and member of Facebook’s board of directors—wouldn’t exactly be thrilled about Free Basics not taking off in India was entirely understandable.

However, the American venture capitalist decided to channel his disappointment by engaging in a Twitter argument, where he essentially asked Indians to be okay with colonialism.

On Wednesday morning (India time), Andreessen, who co-founded Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm with more than $4 billion under management, said this on Twitter:

Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?

The tweet was subsequently deleted.

On Feb. 8, India’s telecom regulator barred differential pricing for internet services in the country, sealing an ongoing debate in favour of net neutrality. Its decision came as a setback for Facebook, which had been aggressively lobbying for Free Basics—an initiative to provide free but limited internet access—in India.

Andreessen’s comment was part of a Twitter conversation between Vikram Chachra, founding partner at Eight Innovate, a seed stage investor in Indian startups, where the latter called Facebook’s attempts to promote Free Basics “internet colonialism.”

Expectedly, Twitter’s response to Andreessen’s lack of sensitivity was swift:

And this is how Andreessen concluded this particular Twitter interaction:

Andreessen later took to Twitter to apologize, saying he withdraws his offending tweet “in full and without reservation.”