SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Billionaire Warren Buffett has established his credentials as a savvy money manager, but Internet trailblazer Marc Andreessen doubts the stock market sage knows much about financial innovations such as the virtual currency bitcoin.
The wild swings in bitcoin's value during recent months prompted Buffett, 83, to dismiss the currency as a "mirage" during an interview on the financial news channel CNBC earlier this month.
The putdown irked Andreessen, who is now running a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has invested about $50 million in startups betting that bitcoin will continue to catch on as an alternative payment system around the world.
"The historical track record of old white men who don't understand technology crapping on new technology is, I think, 100 percent," Andreessen quipped to the delight of bitcoin enthusiasts attending a conference Tuesday in San Francisco.
Buffett, who has built a $64 billion fortune through his control of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., didn't respond to requests for comment.
Andreessen, 42, is also white. He is revered in technology circles for co-founding Netscape Communications, which helped popularize and commercialize the Internet during the mid-1990s with a then-revolutionary Web browser. His venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, has emerged as one of the country's most successful tech investors. An early investment in virtual reality headset maker Oculus paid off Tuesday with Facebook Inc.'s announcement that it is buying the startup for $2 billion.
Buffett has shied away from technology investments because he believes it's too difficult to identify which companies will consistently generate reliable returns. Berkshire Hathaway generally puts its money into more staid industries, such as railroads, financial services, oil, food and retailing, though it does own a major stake in IBM Corp., one of the world's largest and oldest technology companies.
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