a16z Podcast: Finally a Tablet that Replaces Your Laptop

When the iPad first came out in 2010 there was chatter that went in two directions:

  1. It’s just a big iPhone
  2. I’ll never carry a laptop again

Both were wrong. The big iPhone comment was quickly dispelled as …

a16z Podcast: Truth, Humanity, and Leadership

In this segment of the podcast Stanford Graduate School of Business Assistant Dean Bethany Coates and a16z’s Lars Daalgard talk about Daalgard’s own journey from Denmark to Silicon Valley — how he found a place in technology with a non-technical …

a16z Podcast: I Reject the Term Viral Video

YouTube star Casey Neistat rejects the term “viral video,” which is strange because he’s had more than his share of internet monsters. To say I want to make a viral movie, is like a musician saying I want to make …

a16z Podcast: Mobile Falls Hard for Virtual Reality

The mobile world has fallen hard for VR, says Benedict Evans. But will virtual reality mean real profit for hardware makers? Evans offers his observations on VR and more gleaned from the largest gathering of the mobile industry, Mobile World …

a16z Podcast: Mapping the Future of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is coming fast, and everyone seems to assume that it will be gamers who get to have all the fun first. But there are other applications for VR that could also bring it into the mainstream. “It could …

Martin Casado

Today I am delighted to announce that Martin Casado is joining Andreessen Horowitz as a General Partner!

Ben and I first met Martin in 2009 when he and colleagues from Stanford and UC Berkeley were forming their startup Nicira Networks. …

What’s Next in Computing?

The computing industry progresses in two mostly independent cycles: financial and product cycles. There has been a lot of handwringing lately about where we are in the financial cycle. Financial markets get a lot of attention. They tend to fluctuate …

a16z Podcast: The Industries of the Future

The principal political binary of the past century was the political left versus the political right. But in the 21st century the binary has shifted — the battleground now is open versus closed. Those states and societies that embrace economic, …

Why The Heck Can’t We Change Our Product?

I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.
— Jay-Z (see author’s endnote)

One of the most vexing product challenges is evolving the UX (user experience, and/or user UI) over long periods of time, particularly when advancing a successful product with a supportive and passionate community.
If you are early and still traveling the idea maze in search of product-market fit, then most change is good change. Even in the early days of traction, most all changes are positive because they address obvious shortcomings.

Once your product is woven into the fabric of the lives of people (aka customers) then change becomes extraordinarily difficult. Actually that is probably an understatement as change might even become impossible, at least in the eyes of your very best customers.

The arguments are well-worn and well-known. “people don’t like change”…”muscle memory”…”takes more time”…”doesn’t take into account how I use the product”…”these changes are bad”…”makes it harder to do X”…”breaks the fundamental law of Y”…”what about advanced users”…”what about new users”…and so on. If you’re lucky, then the debate stays civil. But the bigger the product and the more ardent the “best” (or most vocal?) customers, well then the more things tilt to the personal and/or emotional.

Just this past week, our feeds were filled with Twitter rumored to make a big change (or even changing from Favorite to Like), Uber changing a logo, and even Apple failing to change enough. It turns out that every UI/UX change is fiercely monitored and debated. All too often this is a stressful and unpleasant experience for product designers and an extremely frustrating experience for the customers closest to the product. Even when changes are incredibly well received, often the initial response is extremely challenging. MORE

a16z Podcast: Breaking the Barriers of Human Potential

During his “Stratos” jump Felix Baumgartner fell faster than the speed of sound, reaching an estimated speed of 833.9 mph plummeting from the edge of space. Baumgartner’s return trip to earth lasted just over nine minutes, but there was seven years of preparation that came before the record-setting mission. Equipment had to be tested and pushed beyond its limit, and so did Baumgartner.

It was the task of Red Bull’s director of high performance Andy Walshe to help train Baumgartner physically and psychologically to do what had never been done before. That’s Walshe’s job — to work with Red Bull’s athletes and artists to get them to places they’ve never been before. Walshe joins the pod, along with a16z’s Jordan Stankowski, to discuss the methods, technologies, and tools he uses to help get people past seemingly unbreakable barriers. The good news is it isn’t just world-class athletes or your favorite pop-star that can benefit from Walshe’s research and work — it’s all of us.

Super Bowl 50: Are You Ready for Some Platform? – How the NFL, like many other businesses, is really a platform

The chili is cooking. The beer is chilling. The humiliating terms of bets are being finalized. Everyone’s geared up to watch the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers collide in Silicon Valley’s Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50. So are we, but not in the same way as most people.

When most people think of the NFL, images of incredible athletes making extraordinary plays come to mind, as they should. But when we think of the NFL, we think – now that’s a great example of a platform business. (Sad I know, but that is what over a decade of working at eBay for one of us will do to you!)

Because the NFL is a platform. And it’s not that different from the other top platform businesses out there – Amazon, Apple, Google, eBay, Facebook – in complexity and success. So in honor of the Super Bowl being played in the tech industry’s backyard, let’s set aside point spreads and playmakers for a moment and examine the NFL, Silicon Valley-style: as a platform. Which could help answer why – for the nearly 100 years it’s been in business – the NFL itself has performed so well.

But first, a little platform 101

Simply put, a platform is a place that engages multiple constituents, each with their own agenda and motivations, in the same place or arena. At eBay, the platform constituents are buyers and sellers. At Facebook, it’s users, advertisers, and developers. For the NFL, the major constituents in its platform are fans, players, owners, broadcasters, and sponsors.

The key to the success of any platform – whether eBay, Facebook, NFL, or something else – is that someone manages the evolving needs of constituents and makes changes accordingly.

Through that lens, the NFL actually has a long history of actively (not just passively) managing its platform, in the form of rule changes that dial up engagement around the game and further the needs of constituents. For example, the NFL made a rule change in 2015 that increased the point-after-touchdown (PAT) distance, which brought fans to their feet more often. After all, scoring plays in football are what the game is all about.

You call that exciting. We call that good platform management.

Before we share more about why this rule change was so impactful, it’s useful to look at a far simpler platform than the NFL to make the whole concept of platform management clear. Especially because in many cases people don’t know they are really managing a platform.

In the old-school taxi ecosystem, the primary constituents are drivers and passengers (and local governments). But the motivations of the primary constituents aren’t always aligned: Drivers want to make as

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a16z Podcast: Building Affirm, and Why Max Levchin Has Watched Seven Samurai 100-Plus Times

Max Levchin helped build PayPal. Then he went onto tackle gaming at Slide. Now he’s back in the world of payments and finance with his latest startup Affirm. a16z’s Angela Strange talks with Levchin about Affirm’s opportunity in the world of finance, and how it aims to build trust among a customer base that doesn’t trust banks. Why building models around loans requires making bad loans, and finally, why everyone should start watching Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai — over and over.

a16z Podcast: The Future of Money and Monetization

Technology companies are running hard at almost every part of the traditional banking business — from raising funds to moving money from one person to another. And as you would expect, that has meant change, both in terms of the banking services that are available to all of us, and the pricing of those services.

It begs the question of what role banks play going forward, and whether tech companies are partners or competitors (or some combination) to the players in the traditional banking business? And finally, if banking gets unbundled by tech –- if there is a choice of services — what fees, and at what price will consumers be willing to pay? a16z’s Alex Rampell leads a discussion with TransferWise Executive Founder Kristo Käärmann and Tilt founder and CEO James Beshara on the future of money and monetization. The discussion occurred as part of the firm’s U.K. Tech Summit.

a16z Podcast: Reinventing Insurance

Your homeowner’s insurance didn’t anticipate Airbnb. Your car insurance certainly didn’t see Lyft and Uber coming. And when your car drives itself, it’s anyone’s guess how the insurance industry will wrap its collective head around that one.

a16z’s Frank Chen and Mike Paulus talk insurance on this segment of the pod. Yes, insurance.

Insurance may not be the sexiest part of your life (hopefully), but because of the changes in how we move through the world — literally and figuratively — insurance is due for a reinvention. What are the possibilities for new and better insurance, and which technologies and trends are driving it.

a16z Podcast: When Banking Works Like My Smartphone

There are fewer and fewer parts of our lives that don’t feel like an extension of our smartphones. Any song you might want to hear. Any place you might want to go. And a ride to get there. All served up simply, quickly, at the right price, and with an experience that is actually enjoyable.

And then there is the world of banking.

Taavet Hinrikus, CEO and co-founder of money transfer company TransferWise, and a16z’s Angela Strange discuss why and how banking and finance — from paying back a friend to refinancing a mortgage — is about to catch up to the rest of our technology-enabled lives.

a16z Podcast: The Fundamentals of Security and the Story of Tanium’s Growth

The thing about enterprise security, from the outside at least, is it reads like a Hollywood thriller. Nation states are after your company’s most valuable assets and they must be stopped at all costs. And yes, some nation state-sponsored hacks have caused tremendous damage. But the best course for most companies isn’t to focus on combatting Mission Impossible-like come through the vent break-ins, says Tanium co-founder Orion Hindawi. It’s the far less sexy practice of simply keeping the virtual windows and doors to your company locked. “It is the thing that will fix you,” Hindawi says.

In a conversation from the firm’s Capital Summit event, Ben Horowitz and Orion discuss the state of enterprise security, and how Tanium’s block and tackle — not cloak and dagger — approach has defined the company’s technology and also led to its tremendous growth.

a16z Podcast: Software is What Distinguishes the Hardware Winners

Smartphone components have become a kind of Lego kit for all kinds of consumer technology. Cameras, sensors, and batteries all get mixed and matched in different permutations to create different gadgets. It might be something that enables your connected home, offers a video capture system for cops, or powers a remote video chat/treat machine for your dog (I know, we all need that). But since practically every component is now available to everyone — and the manufacturing expertise to tie it all together as well — it becomes very hard to distinguish via hardware alone.

Software is the key to breaking from the pack, say Benedict Evans and Steven Sinofsky in this post-2016 CES podcast. What Benedict and Steven saw and learned from this year’s gathering of the consumer electronics industry in this segment of the a16z Podcast.

a16z Podcast: Nobody Discusses Work Software Outside of Work — and Then There’s Slack

For as long as there has been software we have had this collective hope — maybe more of a desire — that software will make all kinds of work easier, more productive, and more creative. Spreadsheets, computer-aided design tools, digital publishing platforms, though never perfect, are examples of software that have definitely changed how we work and what is possible. Still, you find very few people enthusing about Excel over cocktails.

So what is going on with Slack? The messaging app crops up in conversation at dinner parties. It’s become a kind of cultural signifier of a tech savvy workforce that is always looking for better ways to connect — inside and outside of work.

In this segment of the podcast we discuss Slack with its founder Stewart Butterfield. Why Slack has resonated so well across all types of people, from engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to dentists, what that says about how we work today and about our ongoing quest for the perfect tools and services to get the job done.

The conversation happened as part of a16z’s Capital Summit.

a16z Podcast: Harnessing the DevOps Movement — Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

In this, world of massive cloud-based applications and services, rolling out software has moved from an episodic event to an almost continuous release cycle. In that environment, software products aren’t as “done” as they used to be — they can’t be — so the focus has shifted to reversibility. Building a development organization with the design tools and processes that can aggressively iterate while also creating safety nets. So if things do get screwy they can be fixed before customers even notice.

Call it DevOps or application operations, Steven Sinofsky leads a discussion with Karthik Rau from SignalFx and Alex Solomon from PagerDuty about the evolution of I.T. operations – and the requirements and challenges that modern distributed applications pose for a development organization.

a16z Podcast: Making the Most of the Data That Matters

Every organization these days is clear about the need to get its data act together. But that doesn’t mean the path toward data bliss is clear. Data has gravity. It resides in different places at different organizations — on premise, in the cloud, and flowing from external sources. And the rate of change within organizations is always different. So an approach towards handling data that works for one company may be the exact wrong thing for yours.

Steven Sinofsky leads a conversation with three founders — Prat Moghe, from Cazena; Gaurav Dhillon from SnapLogic, and Roman Stanek from GoodData – about the opportunity and variety of ways forward for companies looking to make the most of the data that matters.