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October 20, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Marc Andreessen’s Advice For The New York Times

In the November edition of Portfolio (the best business magazine in the market), Kevin Maney interviews Netscape, Loudcloud, and Ning founder Marc Andreessen. Never a big fan of daily newspapers, Andreessen had this advice for the New York Times:

If you were running the New York Times, what would you do?
Shut off the print edition right now. You’ve got to play offense. You’ve got to do what Intel did in ’85 when it was getting killed by the Japanese in memory chips, which was its dominant business. And it famously killed the business—shut it off and focused on its much smaller business, microprocessors, because that was going to be the market of the future. And the minute Intel got out of playing defense and into playing offense, its future was secure. The newspaper companies have to do exactly the same thing.

The financial markets have discounted forward to the terminal conclusion for newspapers, which is basically bankruptcy. So at this point, if you’re one of these major newspapers and you shut off the printing press, your stock price would probably go up, despite the fact that you would lose 90 percent of your revenue. Then you play offense. And guess what? You’re an internet company.

The question is, which daily paper will have the courage to take Andreessen’s advice? Or more likely, which daily newspaper will have no choice but to shut down the print side of its business?