There’s no love lost between venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and activist investor Carl Icahn, who spent much of the last year attacking each others’ character while Icahn was trying to convince eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) to spin off PayPal into a separate company, and now Andreessen is using Icahn as his go-to example of harmful activism, comparing him to the evil Captain Kirk in an interview on CNBC’s Fast Money.
“Activism is one of those terms like hedge fund, it depends what you mean. Activism in the form of Ralph Witworth is fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about Ralph,” says Andreessen. “Carl’s like literally the exact opposite… Remember the Star Trek episode where they’ve got the good Captain Kirk and the evil Captain Kirk? It’s one of those things.”
Andreessen accuses Icahn of lying and slander
Andreessen accuses Icahn of lying, slandering, and bomb throwing to get what he wants, accusations he’s made in the past. For example, Icahn has repeatedly attacked Andreessen for benefiting from eBay Inc’s (NASDAQ:EBAY) decision to sell a majority stake in Skype to Silver Lake Partners, which Andreessen owned 3% of, while he sat on the eBay board. Andreessen says that he recused himself during those negotiations and that many of Icahn’s details are made up.
Andreessen has brought up Icahn’s past as a corporate raider, reminding eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) shareholders of how Icahn sold of most of struggling airline TWA’s profitable assets in the early 90s and left the company bankrupt when he was eventually ousted from the board in 1993.
Icahn wins on PayPal, but Andreessen is still unimpressed
In the end it looks like Icahn will get what he wants, PayPal will be spun off from eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) sometime next year, but Andreessen isn’t willing to give him credit for suggesting the split.
“He’s not in the details of any of this stuff,” says Andreessen, referencing Michael Dell’s quote from last year that Icahn didn’t even know whether Dell made ‘nuclear reactors or French fries’.
From his point of view, Icahn doesn’t care about what the company is actually doing or how a break-up would affect the people who depend on the company. Andreessen also said that it doesn’t take a high IQ to realize that breaking up companies can be a good way to make money, but there’s a lot more that needs to be considered if you want to help build a company.