a16z

a16z

United States

The a16z Podcast discusses trends, news, and the future of a world being shaped by technology, especially as ‘software eats the world’. It features industry experts, business leaders, and other interesting thinkers and voices from around the world. This podcast is produced by Andreessen Horowitz (aka “a16z”), a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs building the next great consumer and enterprise companies. Multiple podcasts are released every week and sometimes on weekends; visit a16z.com for more details.

Episodes

a16z Podcast: Knowledge Builds Technology and Technology Builds Knowledge -- with Joel Mokyr  

The Industrial Revolution (and period between 1500-1700) was an unprecedented age of technology and economic progress — not unlike today’s, in fact — where we took “quantum leaps” forward in tech by taming electricity, making cheaper steel and refining iron cheaply, automating fiber looms, pumping water out of coal mines, figuring out how to measure longitude at sea, improving the quality of food, preventing smallpox, … even bleaching underwear. But what really triggered the Industrial Revolution? Why did it take place in Europe and spread beyond? It has to do with a competitive, open market of ideas — a transnational “Republic of Letters”, not unlike the early days of the blogosphere. And the conditions that created it (virtual networks, open access science, weak ties, and so on) are the very conditions we may need to sustain growth and prosperity even today, argues Joel Mokyr, professor of economics and history at Northwestern and author of the new book A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy. Despite fears of what new tech may bring, the alternative to not innovating is stagnation — “not doing it is worse”, argues Mokyr in this episode of the a16z Podcast. So how do we then measure that growth? How does this all play out internationally, and institutionally? And what happens when we bring shared focus to big problems, like climate change? If there’s one pattern that continues to play out throughout history to today, it’s that “Knowledge builds technology and technology builds knowledge.” image: Library of Congress

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Drones for Delivery in Healthcare  

“If we have instant delivery for our burgers,” says Zipline CEO and co-founder Keller Rinaudo, “we should have it for our medicine.” So while some people debate whether drone delivery for burritos, beers, and books is a marketing gimmick, one of the most important kinds -- urgent delivery of urgent healthcare -- is happening right now through Zipline’s delivering blood and vaccines to patients and hospitals in Rwanda. The peace dividend of the smartphone (and electric vehicle) wars has yielded components and cost dynamics that make all this possible. But more importantly, the economics -- bypassing motorcycles and going 20x as fast -- are actually profitable, as drones can help leapfrog existing (or lacking) road infrastructure. "It’s trade, not aid" ... especially as this approach also builds out commercial infrastructure in Africa. In this episode of the a16z Podcast (in conversation with Chris Dixon and recorded at our recent inaugural a16z Summit), Rinaudo and UPS' Vice President of Healthcare Strategy John Menna discuss using drones to leapfrog infrastructure, and save lives by doing it in less than 15 minutes. But how are regulation and locals responding? What does the trend towards “light and fast” logistics -- based on smaller inventory in a number of controlled-environment yet centrally managed locations -- look like? And finally, how can drones for healthcare delivery further the trend of personalized medicine?

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Old Food, New Tech -- 'Clean Meat'  

You’ve heard the numbers or some statistic like this: By the year 2050, we’ll need to feed 9.7 billion humans on the planet. Our current production and meat-making methods -- growing crops to feed to animals to turn them into food -- can’t keep up … not to mention it’s not very good for the environment. Yet meat is at the center of the plate for most meals, for most people. So how do we go from where we are to where we need to be? Especially since food is fundamentally an emotional experience! You can’t browbeat consumers into doing the "right" thing by selling on the rational benefits. You have to make them taste it … and crave it. In this episode of the a16z Podcast (continuing our annual Thanksgiving and ongoing food x tech series) Uma Valeti, CEO of Memphis Meats; David Lee, COO of Impossible Foods; and Bruce Friedrich, Executive Director of The Good Food Institute discuss -- in conversation with a16z partner Kyle Russell -- different methods of making meatless meats or “clean meats”. More broadly, we’re beginning to see a new era of food, and with it, radical transparency around understanding where our food comes from and how it’s made … something most people currently don’t know (or don’t want to know). From making to marketing, what will it take to turn the world's oldest food production tradition into an entirely new one? Could a personalized, local “meat brewery” be the future of food?

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: The Business of Creativity -- Pixar CFO, IPO, and Beyond!  

You've heard a version of this story before: Steve Jobs calls some executive out of the blue to come work for him. Only this time the story turns out great ... and the company wasn't Apple. This episode of the a16z Podcast shares some of the journey that former CFO Lawrence Levy went on with Steve Jobs as they took Pixar -- a company then on the verge of failure -- to its IPO and subsequent greatest hits. It's sort of an adventure story but is really more of a quest for product-market fit. How did they figure out a model for such an old-but-new business (i.e., animation and entertainment)? How did they take an improbable plan and figure out how to make it work -- both qualitatively and quantitatively? How did they then navigate and straddle the diverse worlds of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street? And finally, how did they price their IPO, which was also a symbol of Steve Jobs' comeback story ... a narrative that's sometimes lost in the Apple story. From the business of creativity to corporate culture, Levy -- former CFO of Pixar, board member, and author of the new book To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History -- shares his (and Jobs' untold) story. But it isn't just a story about finding the right model and numbers to build, explain, and measure the business; it's also, partly, about how to get the measure of one's humanity, too.

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Technology and National Security  

We live in very interesting times, to say the least — whether it’s a shift in how technology is built and adopted today compared to the past; a changing international landscape with leapfrogging players; or an increased cyberattack surface as computing and networking touch everything. So what’s next for technology and national security? This episode of the a16z Podcast features a conversation that took place last month between Marc Andreessen and Michèle Flournoy — former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security — moderated by Matt Spence, partner on the a16z Policy and Regulatory Affairs team (and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense). It covers everything from technology procurement and the tyranny of the inbox, to the politics of industrial policy and ethics debates around use-cases for new technologies. But… do we really want innovation? If so, how do we think about the future? And how can both policymakers and technologists work together in different ways to help the U.S. keep its competitive edge and “give the future a seat at the table”?

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Of Messages and Movements in Politics AND Business  

In business, as in politics, "the movement is the message" -- whether that "movement" is a product that's taking off grassroots-style in an enterprise, or is a political candidate. In fact, you can think of political campaigns in general as a lot like startups ... only there's no second place in politics! And you can definitely think of business -- and in particular go-to-market strategy -- as a lot like political campaigns: in allocating marketing resources, going up against incumbents, and much more. Ultimately, it all comes down to the message -- setting the criteria and narrative as tailored for different "buyer" personas, from developers/users/CxOs to the voters you have to persuade. But how do you tell a message is working? With such complex, coordinated efforts behind a visionary product or person, is there room for instinct in message development and discipline? And where does the competition come in? They're laying traps for sure, and while that's obvious in politics it may not be so obvious in business. So pay attention to political campaigns as a way to think about go-to-market business principles, argues a16z's Mark Cranney, with longtime political operator Todd Cranney (who is also his brother!) on this episode of the a16z Podcast, another one of our "hallway conversations".

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: So Where Are We on the 'S-curve' for PC Devices?  

There have been a number of new device announcements this past month -- from Google’s new Pixel phone (the first time they made their own phone on the hardware side as well) to more recently, Apple’s announcements around a new Macbook Pro and innovations in touch (including a Touchbar that replaces function keys and bringing TouchID to Macs); and then Microsoft, which among other things announced a new Surface Studio -- an all-in-one touchscreen desktop PC. How do these change the future of work? Turns out, even seemingly small interface improvements could have significant consequences for user behavior. Just look at touch. More broadly, though, what happens when a software maker becomes a hardware maker? Or when we're in the middle of an architecture shift, as we are right now with x86 to ARM processors in mobile (and beyond)? It's all about where you're at on the "S-curve" of innovation (a concept first coined by Gabriel Tarde and expanded on Everett Rogers in his theory of innovation diffusion). And sometimes, the best is the last... But how can we tell where something is on that curve? The right comparisons matter here, and a16z's Benedict Evans and board partner Steven Sinofsky try to make them in this episode of the podcast!

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: On the Genomics of Disease, From Science to Business  

Once we sequenced the human genome, we'd know the cause of -- and therefore be able to help cure -- all diseases... Or so we thought. Turns out, 20,000 genes (and counting) didn't really explain why disease occurred. Sure, some could be explained by mutations in a single genome, but most, like cancer, are too damn complex. And while the focused, singular approach to understanding disease did yield some useful therapeutics, it's now reached its limits. It hasn't helped much on the diagnostics (and early detection) front, either. That's where a systems approach to bio comes in, drawing on machine learning techniques as well as a sort of "Moore's Law" for genomics that's driving costs down, and fast. We're now focusing on the 99% of the genome that hasn't really been understood yet in terms of how they affect the human body and disease. But what will it take for such an approach to succeed? For one thing, it involves building an applications layer on top of the sequencing layer -- so can we borrow lessons from how the computing industry (from chips to apps) evolved here? What are some of the constraints unique to the healthcare system? In this episode of the a16z Podcast, Freenome CEO and co-founder Gabriel Otte and a16z bio fund partners Vijay Pande and Malinka Walaliyadde (in conversation with Sonal Chokshi) talk all things genomics and disease from science to business, also covering recent news like Illumina to what's next beyond human genomics to future trends. Including what the ultimate, Elysium-like magical diagnostic machine is (hint: the magical is mundane!).

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Stickers! Filters! Memes! Livestreams!  

From glittery reaction gifs modded by grandparents to rage faces on Reddit, stickers (gifs and other layered images) and emotive “biaoqing” have taken over messaging culture in China and beyond. Stickers are tied to filter culture, too — whether originating in real life as purikura photo sticker booths in Japan or digitally as Snapchat filters. Why are these forms of social communication so popular? Because sometimes you just want to say “I feel totally Nicki Minaj side-eye dot-GIF about this”, and no one can give a side-eye as good as Nicki Minaj can. But it’s not just about isolated expressions, celebrity stickers like Kimoji, or personalized bitmoji; stickers are shaping and codifying the way people talk to each other online in new and multi-layered ways. It’s even connected to mobile livestreaming, a phenomenon that’s taking off in China right now, in the most mundane (food eating streams) to subversive (seductive banana eating streams) ways. And how are all these memes tied to monetization and payments? In this episode of the a16z Podcast, ROFLCon co-founder and human-centered researcher/writer Christina Xu and Connie Chan in conversation with Sonal Chokshi take us on a wild tour of cultural messaging memes and messaging tech in China and beyond.

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Truce for Mobile, Battle for VR  

The most recent Oculus Connect event (the third and largest yet) has been lauded as bringing us closer than ever to the future promised for virtual reality or VR. There have been many hardware moves by many players, both recently and over the past year. Who's in it to win it? How far are we from the "holy grail" of headsets that will truly mainstream VR? Will the killer app -- or layer -- for VR be social? And is there enough enthusiasm and activity to get us past the "trough of disillusionment" that inevitably follows the "peak of inflated expectations" in the hype cycle for new technologies like VR? In this episode of the a16z Podcast, partners Chris Dixon, Benedict Evans, and Kyle Russell deep dive on all the gear and players in the VR ecosystem; the evolution of content beyond gaming (with a teeny hint at what a VR horror genre might look like); and how the high-end will push the medium forward for all.

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Mastering the Game (with David Oyelowo)  

This special episode of the a16z Podcast is based on a Q&A from an early screening we hosted of Disney's Queen of Katwe, now in theaters. The movie -- directed by Mira Nair and based on a book by Tim Crothers -- depicts the true story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi. The conversation, hosted by Ben Horowitz, features actor David Oyelowo who (among other roles, previously played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in "Selma") and plays Robert Katende, the engineer-turned-mentor who taught community sports and chess to kids in the slums of Kampala, Uganda. photo credits: Prentiss Earl lll

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: From Data Warehouses to Data Lakes  

From the silver age of on-prem software companies like SAP and Siebel Systems to the golden age of enterprise software-as-a-service, we're now seeing an explosion of data. All types, all sizes, and all over the place. And much of it is a sort of industrial "data exhaust", where companies aren't quite sure what question to ask of the data but are being bombarded with data due to the variety of data sources available today -- from websites to sensors (and therefore data capture) everywhere. Before there is even a signal in the noise. So how do you solve a problem like this-Data? Beyond requiring new types of plumbing and integrations, enterprises now expect -- given the age of mobile, web, cloud, and heck, let's add millennials to the mix too -- self service. To be able to ask, get, fit (curve-fit), predict. To take back the enterprise from the patchwork of integration and number of vendors we all have to deal with -- the scope of which most companies in fact are not truly aware of. It's about the lifecycle of data in the enterprise, argues Snaplogic founder and CEO Gaurav Dhillon in this episode of the a16z Podcast, in conversation with Scott Kupor. It's in fact about the evolution of data overall -- from data warehouses to "data lakes": in stages, from purification (like wrangling data) to bottling (prepping for consumption by data scientists) to making sense of streams and streams of data!

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Welcome to the New Era of Commerce  

Just as "social networking" is a bland term that doesn't really capture the layers of what happens underneath (and on top of) social networking platforms, "crowdfunding" is a broader phenomenon than what the term and tools implies. Or so argue the guests on this episode of the a16z Podcast, Tilt co-founder and CEO James Beshara and a16z general partner Jeff Jordan with Sonal Chokshi. Crowdfunding isn't just about reaching a certain threshold to make something, but it's also about "pre-commerce" or "pretail" -- the next evolution in commerce, which involves the ability to suss out demand before production and sell directly to consumers. Crowdfunding is also about "social commerce" -- the ability to not only build community, but trigger collective action towards some goal. There's even a sort of Dunbar's number equivalent for crowdfunding, the tipping point at which the momentum of this collective action takes over (hint: it involves the magic number of 34%). Beyond crowdfunding, there are broader themes of economic change and behavior at play here -- whether it's people's tolerance for waiting and buying something before it exists; a new type of scarcity and desire for experiential buying; or makers creating or co-creating things publicly, and even incompletely. All we know is that we're at a watershed moment of sorts -- as evidenced by car manufacturer Tesla's pre-orders for its Model 3, which is not even going to be available for a few years. And yet...!

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Apple and the Case of Invisible But Audible Innovation  

"Apple isn't just a tech company; it's a tastemaker." Remember the iconic ads of dancing silhouettes in black, with only the headphone wires visible in white? They were a critical part of the larger buy-Apple innovation narrative. So what happens now when those wires -- an emblematic and enduring image -- are no longer visible, as is the case with the removal of the traditional headphone jack in iPhone 7? It's part of a broader story, both about how product narratives are shared/told and about how innovation happens: "amazingly", subtly, and sometimes, invisibly. Some innovations, like preventing "battery anxiety" or building a platform ecosystem or even laying the tracks for a train that hasn't arrived yet ("ear computers" or "audible computing"? VR/AR? car?) take time. And a direction we may not be able to anticipate from the outside looking in. ...Or so argue the a16zers on this episode of the a16z Podcast featuring in-house analyst Benedict Evans and board partner Steven Sinofsky with Kyle Russell.

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Sleep!  

Sleep, productivity, and creatively are intimately linked, for better and for worse. And "we are living under a collective delusion that burnout is the way to succeed," observes Arianna Huffington, author of The Sleep Revolution. Not only does this affect our health and resilience, she argues, but the data shows that even though we are working longer hours than ever, we lose 11 days of productivity a year per employee due to sickness or diminished capacity. (It also hurts our ability to work in teams.) This isn't just a problem in the tech industry, either. BuzzFeed News senior writer Nitasha Tiku observes that "Any business book that's valorizing or diving into the life of a CEO is going to talk about how much he or she sleeps." But sleep isn't just a biological act, it's also a psychological (insomnia, anxiety, TV binge-watching?) as well as a socioeconomic one when you consider who gets to sleep (people higher or lower in the workplace hierarchy, other demographic factors?). And where does tech and the tech industry come in here? In this episode of the a16z Podcast, Huffington and Tiku discuss the hard realities of sleep -- everything from tech and culture to labor and the evolving nature of work.

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: All About Microservices  

"Incremental change may be good theory, but in practice you have to have a big enough stick to hit everybody with to make everything move at once". So shares Adrian Cockcroft, who helped lead Netflix's migration from datacenter to the cloud -- and from monolithic to microservices architecture -- when their streaming business (the "stick"!) was exploding. So how did they -- and how can other companies -- make such big, bet-the-company kind of moves, without getting mired in fanatical internal debates? Does organizational structure need to change, especially if moving from a more product-, than project-based, approach? What happens to security? And finally, what happens to the role of CIOs; what can/should they do? Most interestingly: How will the entire industry be affected as companies not only adopt, but essentially offer, microservices or narrow cloud APIs? How do the trends of microservices, containers, devops, cloud/ as-a-service, serverless -- all moves towards more and more ephemerality -- change the future of computing and work? Cockcroft joins this episode of the a16z Podcast, in conversation with Frank Chen and Martin Casado (and Sonal Chokshi) to discuss all this and more.

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: It's Complicated  

For better or worse, most of the computing systems that run much of our lives (whether invisibly or visibly) have become increasingly complex -- they're not fully engineered; they're almost grown. And with that we enter a brave new world of "biological" (as opposed to a more "physics") mindset applied to computing. It's more like evolution, horns and all. This isn't just abstract or backend-only stuff. Complex system design affects everything from datacenters and SaaS to word processors and cars, touching human lives in very tangible ways. So how do you solve problems in such systems? How do you even begin to understand "the system" in the first place? And is there anything out there yet that lets us test and verify the output of these systems? (Inquiring minds want to know!) All this and more in this episode of the a16z Podcast, a riff on the theme of "complicated" with complexity scientist Samuel Arbesman and author of the new book Overcomplicated. Also joining the conversation (with Sonal Chokshi) are a16z board partner Steven Sinofsky and research and deal team head Frank Chen. image: brewbooks / Flickr

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Ethereum, App Coins, and Beyond  

Bitcoin quickly made its way from a whitepaper to a production network, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. But its scripting/ programming language was initially, intentionally, limited for a few reasons, which meant that building new apps on bitcoin wasn't always easy. Enter ethereum in 2014 -- a public blockchain platform that moved away from the "Swiss-army knife" approach to a more general protocol approach. This would in turn allow endless (and entirely new) use cases to be built on top of the blockchain, whether smart contracts or "app coins" that allow decentralized crowdfunding and decentralized business models. The results, at first glance, may seem just like a new way of financing a company. But it actually goes much deeper than that: They're really software protocols that are almost replacing centralized companies or what those companies would do. The possibilities are endless... In this episode of the a16z Podcast, Ethereum inventor and co-creator Vitalik Buterin joins Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase (an a16z portfolio company) in conversation with Chris Dixon. The conversation covers everything from the politics of open source (and value of network effects even when those networks split) to the challenges of mainstreaming and scaling tech. And what happens next?

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Pricing Free  

Now that we know to price and plan early, price high -- especially for category-creating or "pre-chasm" businesses -- how do we handle freemium models? While freemium to premium is a great way to get bottoms-up, often viral traction in an enterprise, the challenge is figuring out just where and how to "draw the line" between where free ends and paid begins. Especially for open source, which while not necessarily free/mium, is also affected by these questions. And in that case, how does one balance the developer community and desire to "spread the religion" within and beyond the enterprise? All this and more in this episode of the a16z Podcast with Andreessen Horowitz general partners (who cover all things infrastructure) Martin Casado and Peter Levine and Go-to-Market and EBC operating head Mark Cranney. The trick, they tells us, involves layering ... like layers in a cake.

a16z 0

a16z Podcast: Pricing, Pricing, Pricing  

"Raise prices." Regular listeners of our podcast have heard this advice more than once. But why is this so key and yet so hard for many technical founders? And how should startups go about raising prices -- or more specifically, creating value -- for their products? In this episode of the a16z Podcast, former sales VP Mark Cranney (and head of a16z's EBC and go-to-market practice for startups) and former startup founder (and general partner focused on all things infrastructure) Martin Casado talk to managing partner Scott Kupor about pricing for startups ... especially for category-creating businesses. It's not all "pricing, pricing, pricing" though -- there's another important "p" in there too!

a16z 0

0:00/0:00
Video player is in betaClose