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: Securing Infrastructure and Enterprise Services  

The modern enterprise holds all sorts of applications, devices, and workflow needs. How should we be thinking about securing infrastructure -- and identity -- in this context, for entities like major news media outlets or financial institutions such as News Corp or NASDAQ? Well, this episode of the a16z Podcast brings those voices together: Frederic Kerrest, cofounder and COO of Okta; Brad Peterson, CIO of NASDAQ; and Dominic Shine, CIO of News Corp ... in conversation with Ben Horowitz at our recent a16z Summit. What's the big security picture for these types of organizations, and others? How should we prepare? Last year's DINE DDoS attack was just one glimpse of what's to come, providing a bit of a barometer read for what's currently working, and what desperately needs re-engineering. One interesting solution involves decentralization; but as we move towards such technology (like blockchain) in security, what will high-frequency trading look like? How will consumer relationships, transactions, UI/design security be reimagined? What areas and fundamentals should we focus on?

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a16z Podcast: Cars and Cities, the Autonomy Edition  

Thanks to freeways, cities became something to get through instead of something to get to. Now, as the next transportation revolution -- from rivers to trains to cars to autonomous cars -- promises to change the face of our cities, what happens to car culture, infrastructure, and more? Who owns what, who pays? And what about the design -- and product management -- challenges, whether it's designing for user trust, city adoption, or an ever-moving target thanks to constantly evolving tech? This episode of the podcast (in conversation with Sonal) covers all this and more, featuring: a16z's Frank Chen, who recently shared 16 questions about autonomous cars; Taggart Matthiesen, director of product at Lyft who covers the core platform as well as development/strategy for autonomous vehicles; and Carl Pope, former executive director and chairman of the Sierra Club -- and author (with former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg) of the upcoming book Climate of Hope: How Cities Businesses and Citizens Can Save the Planet. Will curb space be the new shelf space? When we value the "iPhone-ness" over the "carness" of cars, what changes? And... will we all drive less, walk more?

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a16z Podcast: What Startups Should Know about Analyst Relations  

In the age of the internet -- where information is freely available online, and connections between sellers and buyers of software products are visible on LinkedIn -- do analysts really matter? Do they play a role in decision-making for purchases from smaller vendors like tech startups, especially given the rise of the developer as a buyer? Or what if you're trying to create a new category ... do you need to be on a Gartner Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave or similar? We answer these questions and more in this episode of the a16z Podcast, featuring former analysts, client managers, and/or product marketing veterans Stacy D'Amico (who joined a16z after a decade at Gartner), Michael King (director of enterprise product marketing at GitHub), and Aneel Lakhani, in conversation with Sharon Chang of the a16z market development team. The conversation covers everything startups should know about analyst relations, from why and how and when to engage with analysts to whether to consider pay-for-play (no!) or more boutique/niche analyst firms. Most importantly: given their limited resources but big market visions, how can startups get the most out of analyst relations?

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a16z Podcast: Building Worlds with VR, Art, and Narrative  

Once upon a time, Robert Stromberg got a phone call from "Jim" Cameron (aka James Francis Cameron of Terminator and Titanic fame) about a little project called Avatar. Before he knew it, he was responsible for designing the organic world of Pandora, from bioluminescent plants to lush mountaintops. That was when Stromberg realized how much more technology could do, when ready, for creating more such virtual worlds. He'd actually been creating such worlds for ages, from drawing monsters in childhood to doing matte art, production design, art direction, and more for films. In this episode of the a16z Podcast, the two-time Academy Award winner (for production design on Avatar and Alice in Wonderland) and director of Maleficent shares his views on the evolution of filmmaking, narrative, and virtual reality. Stromberg directed the VR gaming experience based on The Martian (which received a Cannes Silver Lion award) and co-founded The Virtual Reality Company, which is re-imagining the film studio for the next generation of tech. What challenges do we face in an immersive medium, what will narratives look like, and what new (or even retro) techniques will we need? All this and more in this episode -- along with a16z partners Kyle Russell, Hanne Tidnam, and Sonal Chokshi -- continuing our series on new medium storytelling. image: Wikimedia Commons

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a16z Podcast: The Why, How, and When of PR  

"Punch above your weight" -- If there's one thing public relations (PR) should help startups and founders do, it's that. Unfortunately, some companies are actually punching below their weight when there's a strong company, founder, product ... yet nobody knows about let alone talks about you. Or worse, someone else defines you first. Or you just become a hype machine. So what conversations should you be in? Is it good or bad to do PR before you have a product? And operationally, WHEN is the right time to build a PR function; WHO should you hire (whether a full-time PR person, consultant, or agency); and HOW can you tell the good from the bad? How do you even know "it's working", when time-is-money for both the startup and the PR firm that's billing you hourly or monthly? There's no easy answer, but it doesn't have to be that hard, either. In this episode of the a16z podcast, partners Margit Wennmachers and Kim Milosevich -- PR veterans who've seen all sides of public relations, from agency to big companies to startups -- share how to strike the just-right balance between doing PR too early or too late, time wasted or time wisely spent, and knowing to say "not now" vs. no... It's all about the art of persuasion.

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VR, AR, and Beyond: The New Medium of Human Experience  

The building blocks for VR and AR are finally here -- but the content is just beginning. So everything you'll actually experience and consume in these new mediums over the next few years is being built right now. Formats aren't yet defined or locked down, and the field is bubbling up with experiments in forms, formats and genres, from narrative to games to live events. As we begin to have real time rendered characters and AI-driven environments that you can interact with, the storytelling structure will also need to completely change. Are these mediums inherently social -- or just the opposite? What will self expression look like? What experiences are being built? Because fundamentally, that is the "celluloid" we are now working with -- human experience, says Within cofounder and filmmaker Chris Milk. Bigscreen founder and CEO Darshan Shankar, Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal, and Milk join a16z's Kyle Russell in conversation about the challenges, potential, and emotional power of these new technologies -- on this episode of the a16z Podcast, recorded at the inaugural a16z summit.

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a16z Podcast: Of Policy, Capital, and the Startup Ecosystem  

How to think about business policy and top-of-mind issues for the tech industry, given a new president? From what agencies matter for startups and VC to what the first 100 days (and next two years!) look like, a16z managing partner Scott Kupor and president and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) Bobby Franklin share what happens between elections and when the reality of the Washington process sets in post-inauguration. What are some of the discussions that are happening around taxation, special stock exchanges for earlier-stage/ smaller companies, and what was the JOBS Act again? Believe it or not, seemingly wonky details like these incent behavior -- for better or worse, with intended and unintended consequences -- and in this episode of the a16z Podcast, we discuss all this and more. (Company) size does matter, after all.

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a16z Podcast: Of Presidents, Policies, and Tech  

How to think about tech policy and top-of-mind issues for the tech industry, given a new president? From what agencies matter for different tech domains -- e.g., autonomous cars, drones, fintech, healthcare -- to recent staffing moves, the a16z Policy and Regulatory Affairs team shares their views in this episode of the podcast. What happens to tech policy when you have a dominant Republican presence in both Congress and most states, yet a Democratic majority of mayors? Especially when cities (potentially laboratories of experimentation) may be where all the real tech action's at? How does tech policy play out differently at the local, state, international, and even federal levels? Especially when many of the tech issues don't fall along party lines ... and the traditional way you look at issues is "left vs. right" -- "but it's almost like 'forward/backward'" here. And finally, how should entrepreneurs think about engaging with policymakers, and vice versa?

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a16z Podcast: Culture and/of Design  

"Mobile-first" (and now too AI-first) has been a mantra of sorts in design, but what does that mean at a company, product management, and competitive level? Especially when someone in company X will always say "we should do what Y did" -- even if they have no idea let alone data why Y did it. And while designing for screens is "like growing a carp in a bathtub" (will inevitably grow to the size of the container), what do design constraints mean in an increasingly screen-less world -- one where everything will eventually become an input ... and even an output? What does it mean to design for a mobile world where "an app isn't really an app" -- and the very definition of apps are themselves evolving, including cross-culturally? From the age-old question of whether there are design universals to the age-old dynamic of bundling/unbundling, the guests on this episode of the a16z Podcast -- Luke Wroblewski and a16z's Connie Chan (in conversation with Sonal Chokshi) riff, hallway style, on all things design in practice. And on why startups may have the ultimate design advantage.

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a16z Podcast: Real Estate -- Ownership, Asset, Economy  

The largest asset class in the United States is owner-occupied real estate, yet options for homeowners accessing this are very binary right now: either own 100% of your home (with a mortgage), or own nothing. And when people do “own”, that ownership is often skewed by debt. Of course, debt works out great for some, given their risk profiles and potential upside (if the house keeps appreciating); but the downside risk and costs are disproportionately borne by the homeowner. And millennials can’t even enter the housing market in the first place. So how can technology help address a system skewed by debt financing, by letting homeowners sell fractions of equity to unlock wealth without necessarily borrowing against their homes? How can such new approaches help homeowners and financers better align risk and incentives, and unlock a whole new asset class for all kinds of investors? How can they help avoid mortgage crises around the world, and the macroeconomic impact of reduced spending, lost jobs, and more? And finally, what is the role of policy here … especially since the government is de facto subsidizer of certain home finance products over others. We discuss all this and more in this episode of the a16z Podcast, featuring general partner Alex Rampell; CEO & co-founder of Point, Eddie Lim; and Atif Mian, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University who also co-authored (with Amir Sufi) the book House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again — in conversation with deal and investing team partner Angela Strange.

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a16z Podcast: Machine Intelligence, from University to Industry  

From the significance of Google DeepMind's AlphaGo wins to recent advances in "expert-level artificial intelligence" in playing an imperfect/ asymmetric information game like poker, toys and games have played and continue to play a critical role in advancing machine intelligence. One of the pioneers in this area among others is the Alberta Innovates Centre for Machine Learning -- now the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (amii) -- which in 2007 solved the long-standing challenge of checkers, and in 2015 produced the first AI agent capable of playing "an essentially perfect game" of heads-up limit hold’em poker. But what does that mean for the evolution of such technology out of play and into production? Out of universities and into industry? (Especially when many such university programs and talent are being hollowed out by companies and they're reliant on intellectual property or provincial support, as is the case of this University of Alberta based institute). And how can CEOs and others embrace learning about this tech somewhere in between? So... what will it take to make AI "real"? What about genetic algorithms, treating computers like people, and other near- and far-future possibilities? This episode featuring the executive director of Amii, Cameron Schuler, and a16z deal, research, and investing team operating head Frank Chen covers all this and more. The conversation was recorded recently as part of our inaugural a16z Summit event. image: Nyks / Wikimedia Commons

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a16z Podcast: New Year, New Horizons -- Pluto!  

What (on earth) does it take to get a signal to Pluto? Stanford senior scientist and astronomer Ivan Linscott, part of the team that ran the radio science experiment on the New Horizons probe, shares in conversation with a16z's Frank Chen all the nitty gritty details about their project using Ruse radio transmissions to gather info about Pluto. Listen in on exactly what it really takes to do so -- everything from commandeering old Cold War spy technology and plutonium to completing the entire mission on approximately 250 watts, and including other such highlights as a motorcycle riding, guitar playing, leather jacketed, tattooed FPGA fixer coming to fix everything when it seemed a lost cause, and the satellite going dark just moments before contact. From deep tech details to the drama of accomplishing such a difficult mission, this podcast is all about how, exactly, we sent a radio signal to Pluto.

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a16z Podcast: The Movement of Money  

As companies expand out from the internet into the rest of the economy -- the proverbial bits to atoms -- "the business models are becoming more complicated, more interesting, more payment based", observes Patrick Collison, CEO and co-founder of payments platform Stripe, which enables apps/websites to programmatically move money around. But as such companies become "the operating platform for commerce", we also have an interesting paradigm where people, not governments, are controlling the commerce supply -- so "It's not the money supply. It's the commerce supply," argues a16z general partner Alex Rampell. This is especially true as payments become easier, as trust and payments become interwoven, and as online, peer-to-peer marketplaces address information asymmetry. So what does this all mean for advertising as a business model, for trading goods and services directly, for the future of stores? What does it mean for liquidity, for interest rates as a lever for the economy, and for ...the end of cash? And finally, when legacy and emerging non-software businesses are increasingly networked and run on "technologically enabled rails", what does that mean for geopolitical risk? Collison and Rampell discuss all this and more on this episode of the a16z Podcast, a hallway-style riff on all sorts of money matters.

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a16z Podcast: The Realities of Aging / When Healthcare Is Local  

As people live longer, aging is more top of mind than ever. This is especially true for the "sandwich generation" wedged between caring for aging parents as well as young children at the same time. The fact is, the 65+ year old population (but don't you dare homogenize a multi-decade age group!) will double over just the next 15-20 years. So how does this fit into our current healthcare system? How does it fit current retail experiences, like for buying adult diapers? What are the design challenges when you're optimizing for screen-less interaction and data collection in a home environment? And finally, where do providers and payers come in? Honor's head of design Renato Valdés Olmos and head of health system integration Kelsey Mallard join this episode of the a16z Podcast to talk about all this and more. This all goes beyond discussions about fighting age with tech though -- it's about the realities of aging and caregiving, from the very mundane (going to the bathroom, for instance) to the very profound (staying in one's home, church, and community). That's why all "healthcare is local" ... or should be.

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a16z Podcast: Mobility and the Global Refugee Crisis  

"We throw around words like 'crisis' very easily, but this is a global crisis, and it is of historic proportions," says current U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken about the refugee crisis (for which he and his department mobilized a response that significantly accelerated government efforts to assist refugees, as well as engage the tech sector). "People don't realize that before 2011, the number of Syrian refugees was zero," shares Lina Sergie Attar of the non-profit Karam Foundation, which aims to build a better future for Syria through education, smart aid, and sustainable development programs for internally displaced communities inside Syria as well as refugee populations in neighboring countries. Yet in this episode of the a16z Podcast (with Sonal Chokshi and a16z's Matt Spence, who was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Middle East) both agree that it's a crisis that requires a global response, including from the tech industry. Especially when technologies like the smartphone, which "is the most important object" that refugees have -- for migration, communication, documentation, connection, commerce, more -- can and do play a role. But we need to go beyond the "mobile migration" narrative here: Maybe we shouldn't focus on promoting superhero 'migration' success stories or citing statistics, and instead find out more about the broader context and details of refugees' day to day lives. Maybe it's not about being 'solutionistic' ... but is about finding solutions. Maybe it's about the intersection of foreign policy and technology; it most certainly is about our collective humanity. image: Mustafa Bader / Wikimedia

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a16z Podcast: Produce or Perish! (What We Eat)  

Nature is the ultimate complex system, of course — but with today’s technology, it’s now provided us with an “incredible toolkit” of different molecules that material scientists can treat like Legos to make some really interesting products. One of those is a protective layer for fruits and vegetables that extends shelf life and freshness. Because all produce is seasonal, it’s perishable — so there’s a limited geographical radius around which it can travel… whether by land, sea, or air. How does this change what food we sell, buy, eat… taste? How does it affect smallholder farmers both in the United States and in the developing world — where there’s no real infrastructure, yet alone for a cold-storage supply chain? And finally, what are some of the most interesting advances in the interdisciplinary field of materials science right now and up next: Is it finally time for these “hard”ware companies to be more software-like? All this and more (and unfortunately, some puns too!) on this episode of the a16z Podcast with Apeel founder and CEO James Rogers and a16z partners Malinka Walaliyadde and Sonal Chokshi. Will tech reshape the food-map of the world?

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a16z Podcast: The Internet Is My Movement  

Clearly disruption plays out not just in business but also in politics. Whether it was the Scottish national party, recent election campaigns, or local school boards, people grew and organized communities online all last year through NationBuilder -- which provided a software platform for those otherwise underserved from an established technology perspective (hence the disruption theory reference). Harnessing the energy of communities goes beyond politics though, to all kinds of movements. But what happens when people remain in filter bubbles on the internet -- the very internet that NationBuilder CEO Jim Gilliam famously called his "religion"? What happens when that religious fervor or energy can be... "rabid"-like? Especially in a context where money, media, and other traditional institutions might not have the same impact or control they once did? "The internet can reflect back whatever it is that we want it to -- and we need more leaders to step up and say, 'Look, this is the way that I want it to be'," argues Gilliam in this episode of the a16z Podcast in conversation with Ben Horowitz (based on a session recorded at our recent a16z Summit event). Movements, it seems, are really about leadership, and the future is not written yet as people create new models of voice and choice.

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a16z Podcast: Health Data -- A Feedback Loop for Humanity  

"We live in a world where we use millions of variables to predict which ad you're going to click on. Whether or not you deserve to get a loan. What movie you might watch next. But when it comes to our bodies and even serious diseases, we want to reduce things down to just one or two variables." It's insane that we actually collect so little data about our bodies. The modern day physical is downright spartan in what it captures, not to mention that we're using 200-year old tools to capture that very limited data. Which is why we need to borrow from other domains of science and data and apply that to our bodies, in more ways than one, argues Q founder and CEO Jeffrey Kaditz with a16z bio fund general partner Vijay Pande (in conversation with Sonal Chokshi) on this episode of the a16z Podcast. But how do we get there? What would data "rights" look like -- and could we possibly donate data much like we currently donate organs? And for catching diseases like prostate or breast cancer early, how can we use data captured over multiple points in time -- something not really done right now in medicine -- to be more predictive, sensitive, and specific beyond so-called "representative" population samples? What IS a 'diagnostic', really, anyway?

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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

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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?

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