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Leaving It All on the Field

Photo: SumofMarc

Many folks make the observation that it’s challenging to run a fast-growing technology start-up. I personally think that’s a dramatic understatement. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done…as well as the most rewarding.

I’d had very modest experience actually running a business when I got to eBay in 1999. Most of my management experience had been in running functional groups within organizations, such as being the CFO of The Disney Stores. Over the course of my seven years at eBay, I discovered the experience and requirements of successfully running a hyper-growth business changes dramatically over time. MORE

Shipping is a Feature: Some Guiding Principles for People That Build Things

I love questions about advice because they really force one to think carefully about what to say. My former colleague, Jackie Bavaro now at Asana, who recently co-authored a thoughtful book on the ins and outs of securing a role in product management, asked the following question on Quora:

quora

In thinking about the question and some of the recent design-oriented discussions, here are five takeaways that have always guided me. They didn’t originate with me, except in the sense that I discovered their value while making some mistake. MORE

Software Eats Software Development

a16z Podcast: Engineering a Revolution at Work

Software Gets the World to Stop (Over) Eating

The Decline of the Mobile Web

In Mobile, Everything Is Still Wide Open

Photo: w4nd3rl0st

Photo: w4nd3rl0st

BY BENEDICT EVANS

The mobile platform horse race is very entertaining, and a very reliable way to get page views. But it’s also, increasingly, a second-order question. So far, Apple and Google are both winning, in different ways. That may change over time – Apple may make a substantially cheaper phone or developers may shift to making Android apps first. But that’s really not a very interesting topic anymore – everything that can be said has been said, and it wouldn’t even necessarily change very much unless you’re an Apple or Google shareholder. To me, the first-order issue is the sheer scale of mobile. MORE

a16z Podcast: China and Tech

Hiring For a Job You’ve Never Done, or Can’t Do

Photo: Gottgraphicsdesign

Photo: Gottgraphicsdesign

BY STEVEN SINOFSKY

One of the most difficult stages in growing your own skill set is when you have to hire someone for a job you can’t actually do yourself. Whether you’re a founder of a new company, or just growing a company or team, at some point the skills needed for a growing organization exceed your own experience. Admitting that you don’t really have the skills the business requires is the first, and most difficult step. MORE

The SaaS Manifesto

a16z Podcast: Oculus and the (Mind-Blowing) Reality of Virtual Reality

Notes on TV

Photo: Michael Shaheen

Photo: Michael Shaheen

BY BENEDICT EVANS

One of the reasons it’s difficult to talk about the future of TV is there are really several separate sets of issues that are in play, which are pretty much self-contained, and depend on quite different factors, and all of which need to move before things can change. MORE

Andreessen Horowitz Raises New Fund

a16z Podcast: Searching for Mobile’s Own PageRank

Oculus VR and Facebook: A Massive Boost for Virtual Reality

oculus1

Photo: MVC

BY CHRIS DIXON

I’ve seen a handful of technology demos in my life that made me feel like I was glimpsing into the future. The best ones were: the Apple II, the Macintosh, Netscape, Google, the iPhone, and – most recently – the Oculus Rift. MORE

We’re F****D, It’s Over: Coming Back from the Brink

Photo: Darkroom Productions

Photo: Darkroom Productions

BY SCOTT WEISS

In 1997, about a year after launch, Hotmail was growing exponentially, adding thousands of new users every day. We were on fire. And then one night, it all seemed to unravel. We had a program called the “janitor” that ran as an overnight batch process and it erased all of the email that users put in the “trash” folder. Except this night, a bug spawned an army of other janitors that cleaned out everyone’s inboxes, too. That’s right, deep-sixed their email. Here is what went through all our spinning heads: “We’re fucked, it’s over.”

It’s pronounced whiff-eee-o, that horrible, terrifying moment that nearly every entrepreneur goes through when they are certain that their company is dead. I’ve seen it happen in so many different ways: A legal ruling goes against you; Apple refuses to approve your app unless you change the feature that makes it special;  Google launches a competitive product, and aims right at you; A critical technology partner decides not to renew their contract. It’s that moment before you gather yourself to do battle, when all seems lost. I have struggled through that moment, first at Hotmail and again at IronPort. Coming out the other side, scars and all, there are a few critical things you take with you … MORE

a16z Podcast: The State of the Bitcoin Ecosystem, and a Theory on Satoshi

Not Just Data, the Right Data: A Conversation with Goldman Sachs’ Don Duet

Meet You in the Future: Pitch Time in Virtual Reality

oculus1

Andreessen Horowitz’s Gil Shafir (foreground), engrossed in a pitch for an Oculus VR-powered application. There’s a lot more where that came from … just wait.

By Opposing Small Cap Market Reform, Wall Street’s Largest Retail Brokers are Putting Their Economics Ahead of Customers’ Best Interests

Photo: Epicharmus

Photo: Epicharmus

According to SEC Chairwoman Mary Joe White, implementing a pilot program to widen tick sizes for small-cap stocks (sub-$750 million market cap) is a “near-term project” for the SEC.

In other words, it might actually happen, and that has some of the biggest players on Wall Street in a panic. MORE

Full Stack Startups

Photo: Leo Reynolds

Photo: Leo Reynolds

Many of today’s most exciting startups were tried before in a different form.

Suppose you develop a new technology that is valuable to some industry. The old approach was to sell or license your technology to the existing companies in that industry. The new approach is to build a complete, end-to-end product or service that bypasses existing companies. MORE

a16z Podcast: Apple and Google Won the Mobile OS War, But a New War Has Already Begun

From Thermostats to Driverless Cars, Finding Structure in an Unstructured World

Image: Fragmented/Maura Cluthe

Image: Fragmented/Maura Cluthe

Yoky Matsuoka’s first foray into robotics wasn’t within the confines of an academic lab, where she once constructed one of the most life-like mechanical hands ever conceived, but on a tennis court many years ago. A rising star player at the time, Matsuoka dreamed of creating a mechanical training buddy capable of pushing her performance. Matsuoka is still heavily involved with robotics today, but not with the kind she first envisaged. Rather, she is dedicated to building stealthy, intelligent robots that are tucked away in people’s homes. MORE

Intel CIO Describes What Big Companies Want from the Cloud

The Kick-Ass Cloud for Developers

Photo: Ojie Paloma

Photo: Ojie Paloma

BY PETER LEVINE

The last few years have seen the incredible growth of cloud computing. Applications and services that were developed for on-premise use have all found a new home in the cloud. As with most technology transformations, early adoption often occurs around a hobbyist developer community that then expands into more mainstream adoption and use. The cloud is no exception; as it grows it continues to empower developers to shape technology and change the world.

What started as a primitive, manual, and cumbersome infrastructure service, has evolved into a variety of cloud vendors offering vast collections of services targeted at a number of different audiences –perhaps too vast. We have Database-as-a-Service, Compute-as-a-Service, Analytics-as-a-Service, Storage-as-a-Service, as well as deployment and network environments, and everything in between. It has left the developer community with more options, functionality, and cost than it needs or wants.

It’s time for the cloud to once again focus on developers, and that is where DigitalOcean comes in. MORE

The Legend of The Blind MC

blind_and_def_tape

Photo: Vision Network

People say I’m crippled, but that’s a lie
They’re just mad ‘cause I’m so fly
Being handicapped is a state of mind
I’m not disabled I’m just blind
—The Blind MC, “Blind and Def”

BY BEN HOROWITZ

People often ask me why I feature Hip Hop so much in my blog posts. In the past, I have given short and incomplete answers, but here is the full story. It probably belongs in The Hard Thing About Hard Things, but I did not know how to tell it without Rap Genius.

In 1986, I was 20 years old and attending Columbia University in the City of New York. I received a phone call from my mother on the shared dorm room phone … MORE

How to Engineer a Best Picture Oscar

Photo: Thomas Hawk

Photo: Thomas Hawk

BY MICHAEL V. COPELAND

Fast & Furious 6 is not in the race for Best Picture in the upcoming Oscars. All five of the preceding movies were similarly snubbed. If you are a fan of muscle cars or Vin Diesel (sometimes hard to distinguish between the two), this ongoing insult may seem unfair. But according to analysis of past Best Picture nominees by data jockey Benn Stancil, it’s not the mumbled lines or wooden acting that is preventing the Fast & Furious crew from getting a shot at mumbling through an acceptance speech – it’s that it has virtually none of the elements required for a shot at a Best Picture win. The participation of the actor Daniel Day-Lewis for starters. Or that it not be a sequel, which, as the sixth in a series it certainly is.

In an attempt to engineer the perfect Best Picture, at least by Academy of Motion Picture standards, Stancil, who is the chief data analyst at San Francisco-based startup Mode Analytics, sifted through mountains of data collected from entertainment information outfit Rovi and the Academy Awards database. The result, Stancil says with a laugh, “is the ultimate Frankensteinian Oscar-bait.” And like Frankenstein, it could be a triumph or an abomination. MORE

Body Electric: Implanted Machines Are Coming

Photo: x-ray delta one

Photo: x-ray delta one

BY STUART LUMAN

The pace of electronics miniaturization has been relentless. Today’s palm-sized smartphones dwarf the fastest supercomputers of only a couple decades ago. Low-powered computers equipped with an array of finely tuned sensors are already being incorporated into real-world objects that can communicate autonomously, creating a so-called Internet of Things that promises to bring revolutionary opportunities—and challenges—for every aspect of society and industry. The next phase of miniaturization could be even more transformational; embedding computational technology directly onto and into our bodies. MORE

Why I Will Give 100% of My Book Earnings to Women in the Struggle

Photo: American Jewish World Services
BY BEN HOROWITZ

There is a woman in Somalia
Scraping for pearls on the roadside
There’s a force stronger than nature
Keeps her will alive
This is how she’s dying
She’s dying to survive
Don’t know what she’s made of
I would like to be that brave.
—Sade, “Pearls”

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.
—Margaret Mead

I will donate all of my proceeds from The Hard Thing About Hard Things to American Jewish World Service to support their efforts to help women fight for their basic rights throughout the world.  Since there are many important causes, I thought that it would be worth explaining why I am supporting this one. MORE

The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place

Photo: Benben

Photo: Benben

BY MARC ANDREESSEN
I am more bullish about the future of the news industry over the next 20 years than almost anyone I know. You are going to see it grow 10X to 100X from where it is today. That is my starting point for any discussion about the future of journalism. Here’s why I believe it, and how we will get there. MORE

From Hendrix to Hyperlinks, Tracing Computing’s Family Tree

Image

The Xerox Alto

BY MICHAEL V. COPELAND
In 1968, the same year Jimi Hendrix released Electric Ladyland, Doug Engelbart, an engineer from the Stanford Research Institute, sat poised in front of a computer terminal in San Francisco facing an audience of 1,000 fellow engineers. As words began to scroll across the fuzzy screen, Engelbart described his actions to the crowd. Though you couldn’t have known it then, we’ve been replaying that performance ever since. MORE

Why There Will Never Be Another Red Hat: The Economics of Open Source

Photo: Rick Barber

Photo: R.E. Barber

Open source software powers the world’s technology. In the past decade, there has been an inexorable adoption of open source in most aspects of computing. Without open source, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and nearly every other modern technology company would not exist. Thanks to an amazing community of innovative, top-notch programmers, open source has become the foundation of cloud computing, software-as-a-service, next generation databases, mobile devices, the consumer internet, and even Bitcoin.

Yet, with all that momentum, there’s a vocal segment of software insiders that preach the looming failure of open source software against competition from proprietary software vendors. The future for open source, they argue, is as also-ran software, relegated to niche projects. It’s proprietary software vendors that will handle the really critical stuff.

So which is it? The success of technology companies using open source, and the apparent failure of open source is a head scratcher. Yet both are true, but not for the reasons some would have you believe. The success or failure of open source is not the software itself  – it’s definitely up to the tasks required of it – but in the underlying business model. MORE

The Need for Nerdy Marketers

The pattern at the moment is the stronger the ideology or mission of the company, the more successful the company. A lot of the best people in the field don’t want to just work for money.
Marc Andreessen

Our Love Affair With the Tablet is Over

Photo: Tony J. Case

Photo: Tony J. Case

BY ZAL BILIMORIA
Back in 2011, I was having an all-consuming love affair with tablets. At the time, I was the first-ever head of mobile at Netflix. I saw tablets in my sleep, running apps that would control homes, entertain billions and dutifully chug away at work. Tablets, I was convinced, were a third device category, a tweener that would fill the vacuum between a phone and a laptop. I knew that was asking a lot — at the time, however, I didn’t know just how much.

Why I Did Not Go To Jail

Photo: Thomas Hawk

Photo: Thomas Hawk

BY BEN HOROWITZ
A lot of people have been asking me what my upcoming book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, will be like. Here’s a piece that I wrote for the book that did not make the cut. I still think it’s a pretty good story and gives you a flavor.

I just tell the truth so I’m cool in every hood spot
21 years and I ain’t ever met a good cop
—Drake, “I’m Goin In”

After we transitioned the business from Loudcloud to Opsware, we needed a head of finance. Therefore, when the CFO from one of the best-run enterprise software companies became available, I jumped at the chance to hire her.

Michelle (note: her name has been changed) comprehensively understood software accounting, business models, and best practices, and she was beloved by Wall Street in no small part due to her honest and straightforward reporting of her previous company’s business. In my reference checking, at least a dozen investors told me that they made far more money when the numbers disappointed than when the company outperformed, because they trusted Michelle when she said that things were not worse than they appeared and bought on the dips. MORE

Whoever Says Physical Retail Is Dead Isn’t a Woman

Harvey Keitel, CEO

Photo: Ucumari

Photo: Ucumari

BY SCOTT WEISS
In many of the old war movies, every elite unit has at least one member that has the critical talent to make something out of nothing: the scrounge. You know this guy: when everyone is out of rations or ammunition and the truck is broken down, he quietly heads out. The next day, when all hope of completing the mission seems lost, the scrounge comes rolling up in a freshly repainted jeep, full rations, ammo, and, stereotypically, a case of cold beer. How did he do that? Where did it all come from? “Don’t ask,” he growls, “Let’s get movin’.”

Harvey Keitel’s Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe in Pulp Fiction is another iconic fix-it guy. He comes directly from a party in his tux to “clean up” the situation. I love his “Can I get some coffee?” calm demeanor as he carefully assesses the situation, starts prioritizing, and then takes swift action to get Jules and Vincent out of their blood-soaked jam.

During a crux scene in Apollo 13, the engineers in Houston realize they have to somehow fit the Command Module’s square carbon dioxide filter in the Lunar Module’s round receptacles if they want everyone to keep breathing. They got together in a room, dumped the box of materials available to the astronauts on the table and said, “Here’s what we have to work with…” After working for a tense few hours, they cobbled together a solution with step-by-step instructions for the oxygen-starved astronauts. That scene always gives me goose bumps.

All of the successful entrepreneurs I know are part-scrounge, part-Wolf, with a good dose of calm-under-pressure space jockey thrown in. In other words, they are ridiculously resourceful. It’s this magical combination of wicked-smart, tenacious as hell, works harder and longer than most people think is humanly possible, thinks way outside the box and is also unbelievably passionate and compelling. In short, they have special tools to just get shit done.

Special, but not unobtainable.

Over the years, I’ve noticed some patterns and methods that explain how great people manage to pull off the impossible. And with Mr. Wolfe’s permission, here they are: MORE

40-Pound Calculators, the Birth of Ethernet, and a $100 Billion Mistake: A Conversation with Bill Krause

krause6

Photo: MVC

BY MICHAEL V. COPELAND
Bill Krause admits his career plan sounds a bit more orderly now than it really was. An electrical engineering graduate from The Citadel in 1963, Krause figured he’d break down his work life into 15-year blocks. The first was learning about business, which Krause did under the tutelage of none other than Bill Hewlett at (naturally) Hewlett Packard. The second was building a business. With his partner Bob Metcalfe, Krause founded networking pioneer 3Com in 1981 and brought Ethernet to the world. He ran the company as CEO for 12 years, and executive chairman for another three.

Which puts Krause into the third part of his career. He describes it as his giving back phase. It’s in that capacity that Krause is joining the a16z team as a Special Advisor.

Krause has been a part of Silicon Valley since the earliest days of the computer. He was the first “digital sales engineer” at HP, before they dared call what they were selling a computer. Thanks to 3Com, PCs became much more than isolated islands of transistors. And Ethernet? You know you love it, especially when the Wi-Fi goes sideways.

As a CEO Krause has seen it all ­– the glory, and the glorious mistakes – many, many times. After years of sitting on the boards of large public companies, Krause had a hankering to also get back into startups and help the next generation of entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of building great companies.

That is what he will be doing for Andreessen Horowitz. “Nothing would be more satisfying to me then to be able to contribute to a young entrepreneur’s success over time,” Krause says. “Consider me a startup CEO’s sidekick.” Sure, if Batman’s sidekick was another Batman.

If you have Krause around you can’t help but dig into some of the formative companies and characters of Silicon Valley. In an environment that too often looks only a few months ahead, it’s invaluable to involve Krause, who brings the long-view into the conversation.

So we sat down with Krause, and did just that. MORE

What GE and GitHub Learned From Each Other

Building Your Recruiting Muscle

Photo: Singapore Youth Olympic Games

Photo: Singapore Youth Olympic Games

BY SCOTT WEISS
At Andreessen Horowitz, we talk about the notion of being “too hungry to eat.” That’s to say, we often see startups that are so entrenched in the product that the founders forget they need muscle to grow. Without the right people in place, it’s not easy to get to where you want to be as a company. And since recruiting the very best talent is extremely competitive, it’s important to pay maniacal attention to the entire process, and that doesn’t stop with the offer letter. What follows are some important elements to keep in mind. MORE

Estonia: The Little Country That Cloud

Photo: Haylee Barsky

Photo: Haylee Barsky

Follow the leader is a title, theme, task
Now you know, you don’t have to ask

– Rakim, “Follow the Leader”

BY BEN HOROWITZ AND STEN TAMKIVI
Being someone reasonably well-known in technology, I have been getting a lot of questions lately about Healthcare.gov. People want to know why it cost between 2 and 4 times as much money to create a broken website than to build the original iPhone. This is an excellent question. However, in my experience, understanding why a project went wrong tends to be far less valuable than understanding why a project went right. So, rather than explaining why paying anywhere between $300M and $600M to build the first iteration of healthcare.gov was a bad idea, I would like to focus attention on a model for software-enabled government that works. In doing so, perhaps this will be a step toward a better understanding of how technology might make the US government better and not worse. MORE

Don’t Believe the Tech Bubble Hype

Photo: Aeioux

Photo: Aeioux

BY SCOTT KUPOR
With private tech companies pulling down billion-dollar-plus valuations with seeming ease, and shares of some newly public tech outfits soaring, talk of a tech bubble is on the rise again. Financial market prognosticators have declared that technology valuations defy logic and that Silicon Valley needs to be institutionalized before it becomes a danger to itself and investors everywhere.

All of this bubble-mongering encourages headlines, but it makes little sense if we look beyond the run-up in valuations of tech startups. Before we can say a bubble is brewing, we need to consider what’s causing the value of tech companies to soar. MORE

Pinterest’s Ben Silbermann on Design

Why Bitcoin Matters

Photo: 100239928@N08/9621551805/

Photo: 100239928@N08/9621551805/

BY MARC ANDREESSEN
A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers.

Political idealists project visions of liberation and revolution onto it; establishment elites heap contempt and scorn on it.

On the other hand, technologists – nerds – are transfixed by it. They see within it enormous potential and spend their nights and weekends tinkering with it.

Eventually mainstream products, companies and industries emerge to commercialize it; its effects become profound; and later, many people wonder why its powerful promise wasn’t more obvious from the start.

What technology am I talking about? Personal computers in 1975, the Internet in 1993, and – I believe – Bitcoin in 2014. MORE

Success at Work, Failure at Home

Photo: Marquette La

Photo: Marquette La

BY SCOTT WEISS
One of the differences between being a CEO and a venture capitalist is that I obviously meet with many more CEOs now than I did then. As such, it has become more apparent that many of my struggles as a CEO are surprisingly common. One observation that stands out, probably because it is rarely discussed, is how many founder/CEOs have relationship struggles with their significant others and families. For me, the brightest years at IronPort were without a doubt the darkest years at home. While I was focused, motivating, articulate, and decisive at work, I was inconsiderate, preoccupied, self-centered, and lazy at home.

Now, having worked through that time with my family, I’m in a much better place to reflect on what happened, how I could have handled things differently, and offer some advice to other founders who may be caught up in a similar dynamic.

Why Silicon Valley Can’t Find Europe

Photo: Ragnar1984

Photo: Ragnar1984

BY STEN TAMKIVI
Go to Europe these days – to Berlin, London, Helsinki – drop in on any of the regional tech confabs and you will quickly see that the European startup scene is in the most bustling, vibrant shape it’s ever been. The potential is everywhere, and the energy is undeniable. Then you return Stateside, in my case to Palo Alto, and Europe isn’t just irrelevant among the tech industry power-set. It has virtually ceased to exist.

Teespring: Building a New E-Commerce Company

The Tipping Point (E-Commerce Version)

Photo: Schizoform

Photo: Schizoform

BY JEFF JORDAN
The news around shopping during the holiday season was dominated by two separate stories. One talked about how traffic to brick-and-mortar stores was well below expectations, and that these retailers were forced to discount tremendously to drive sales. The other talked about how an enormous late surge in packages coming from e-commerce companies overwhelmed the capacity of UPS and, to a lesser extent, FedEx, and caused many of these packages to arrive after Christmas.

But, to me, these two stories are not at all separate, they simply reflect different sides of the same narrative: We’re in the midst of a profound structural shift from physical to digital retail.

Software, CES, and the Start of a New Era

Photo: Douglascole

Photo: Douglascole

BY STEVEN SINOFSKY
I love the Consumer Electronics Show. Maybe I’m numb from decades of attending it. Maybe I’m just too much of a fan of watching stuff get made. Maybe I just like long lines and the potential for airborne illness. Really what I love is the technology industry and that every year we get together and demo new products, share works in progress, and take chances on offering products people don’t yet (or ever) know they want. CES 2014 was an exceptionally unique year and one that I think will be remembered as the start of a new era, much how the 1970 show changed TV with the introduction of the VCR or the 1981 show changed music with the CD player.

Can Do vs. Can’t Do Cultures

Photo: San Francisco Public Library

Photo: San Francisco Public Library

“God, body and mind, food for the soul
When you feeding on hate, you empty, my n!*$a, it shows.”

– Rick Ross

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
–George Bernard Shaw

BY BEN HOROWITZ
Lately, it’s become in vogue to write articles, comments and tweets about everything that’s wrong with young technology companies. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t find something in my Twitter feed crowing about how a startup that’s hit a bump in the road is “fu&%@d” or what an as*h%le a successful founder is or what an utterly idiotic idea somebody’s company is. It seems like there is a movement to replace today’s startup culture of hope and curiosity with one of smug superiority.

Why does this matter? Why should we care that the tone is tilting in the wrong direction? Why is it more important to find out what’s right about somebody’s company than what’s wrong? 

Most of the big breakthroughs in the next 20 years already exist, they are already running in labs.
Marc Andreessen

The Four Stages of Disruption

Photo: Steven C. Wilson

Photo: Steven C. Wilson

Innovation and disruption are the hallmarks of the technology world, and hardly a moment passes when we are not thinking, doing, or talking about these topics. While I was speaking with some entrepreneurs recently on the topic, the question kept coming up: “If we’re so aware of disruption, then why do successful products (or companies) keep getting disrupted?”

Good question, and here’s how I think about answering it.

Why I’m Interested in Bitcoin

An Operating System for Your Mobile Supercomputer

Cyanogen

Cyanogen

Mobile devices have put supercomputers in our hands, and—along with their first cousin—the tablet, represent the largest shift in computing since the PC era. The capacity and power of these devices are in its infancy, and all expectations lead to a doubling of capability every 18 months. In the same way that the PC era unlocked the imagination and innovation of an entire generation, we are seeing a repeat pattern with mobile devices at unprecedented scale.

Local Heroes: The Public Companies of Tomorrow

Photo: playdotcom

Photo: playdotcom

A big investor mantra over the past few of years has been “SoMoLo”, an acronym for the mega-trends “Social, Mobile, and Local”. How have these trends been performing for investors?

The Myth of Money

The relationship between composition and English is a bit the same as the relationship between coding and math.
Conrad Wolfram

Bringing Bitcoin To Everyone

 

A neon sign sits on the floor of Coinbase’s loft-style office in  San Francisco. The curving orange and white tubes depict the distinctive B-symbol for the digital currency bitcoin, with the words “Accepted Here” beneath it. The joke, of course, is that the sign is reminiscent of something that could be a regular part of the landscape, as commonplace as any “Bud” sign. And bitcoin at present is anything but commonplace.

Coinbase

Coinbase's Brian Armstrong (l) and Fred Ehrsam

Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong (l) and Fred Ehrsam

One of the interesting things about bitcoin is the contrast between how it is portrayed in the press and how it is understood by technologists. The press tends to portray bitcoin as either a speculative bubble or a scheme for supporting criminal activity. In Silicon Valley, by contrast, bitcoin is generally viewed as a profound technological breakthrough.

The Internet is based on a set of core protocols that specify how information such as text, photos, and code should be transmitted. The designers of the Web built placeholders for a system that moved money, but never successfully completed it. Bitcoin is the first plausible proposal for an economic protocol for the Internet.

The Ultimate Meta-Job Explained (Or What an Entrepreneur-In-Residence Actually Does)

Photo: Ramocchia

Photo: Ramocchia

Exactly what do you do? This has been a persistent question since I started my Entrepreneur in Residence gig at Andreessen Horowitz, and one that I have had to both figure out for myself and explain over and over again. If you explicitly search for it, you can find an occasional article or Quora thread on the topic – but as people rightfully point out, it is a rather vague role that varies in each case and from VC firm to firm. So, once-and-for-all, here’s what it’s like for me.

When Leaders Serve: A Conversation with eBay CEO John Donahoe

eBay CEO John Donahoe (l) with a16z GP Peter Levine

eBay CEO John Donahoe (l) with a16z GP Peter Levine

Before a crowd of folks who know a fair bit about leadership, military veterans, eBay CEO John Donahoe and a16z General Partner Peter Levine discussed the type of leader Donahoe has become as he’s spearheaded a turnaround at eBay. The conversation also tackled Silicon Valley’s obsession with “hot,” and why, for Donahoe, not taking enough risk is a mistake.

Balaji S. Srinivasan Joins the Firm

Balaji S. Srinivasan

Balaji S. Srinivasan

I’m very excited to announce that Balaji S. Srinivasan is joining Andreessen Horowitz as our newest General Partner. Balaji is both an entrepreneur and an academic – and a very big thinker.

The Future of Work, Cars and the Wisdom in Saying ‘No’

Image: dok1

Image: dok1

Marc Andreessen sat down with Fortune Managing Editor Andy Serwer to discuss the future of jobs, education and your favorite ride. What follows is an edited version of the conversation.

Andy Serwer: We all understand that the Internet revolution is inevitable at this point, but it’s also kind of controversial. There are scads of new jobs at Facebook and Twitter and other places, but what about the ones that are destroyed by the inroads of technology into every industry? Are you actually creating more than you’re destroying?

Marc Andreessen: Jobs are critically important, but looking at economic change through the impact on jobs has always been a difficult way to think about economic progress. Let’s take a historical example. Once upon a time, 100 percent of the United States effectively was in agriculture, right? Now it’s down to 3 percent. Productivity in agriculture has exploded. Output has never been higher. The same thing happened in manufacturing 150 years ago or so. It would have been very easy to say, “Stop economic progress because what are all the farmers going to do if they can’t farm?” And of course, we didn’t stop the progress of mechanization and manufacturing, and our answer instead was the creation of new industries.

Dooming Wild Dogs and Digital Downloads

African wild dogs. Photo: Arno Meintjes Wildlife

African wild dogs. Photo: Arno Meintjes Wildlife

On our last platform safari, we explored how incentives designed to prevent lion hunting in Kenya are surprisingly akin to policies designed to encourage free shipping on eBay. From the king of the jungle and the flow of packages, we turn to the dog of the savanna – the African wild dog – the unfortunate victim of the tradeoffs involved in ecosystem management.

Information processing, globalization, and the merging of biology and technology. You put all of these together, and we really are at a transition point. We are going to become a new kind of human.
Danny Hillis, Applied Minds

The Shana Fisher Competitive Advantage

Shana Fisher

Shana Fisher

It ain’t what you know, it’s what you feel
Don’t worry about being right, just be for real
—Parliament, “Ride On”

Today we are announcing Shana Fisher as a new board partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Although she keeps a low profile, people in high tech investing know all about Shana. They know about her because she is so good at what she does. As an early stage investor, she has invested in a broad set of outstanding companies including MakerBot, Pinterest, Vine, FiftyThree, Refinery29 and Stripe. In addition, she is our kind of investor—one who combines the street smarts of how to build companies with the book smarts of how to invest in them.

The Lion, the Platform and the Lesson

Photo: Mr T in DC

Photo: Mr T in DC

In March 2012, I left the suburban enclaves of San Jose and went on safari to Kenya. Early in the trip I toured the Ngorongoro crater, filled with African lions, rhinos, hippos and giraffes.

But my favorites were the monkeys. I loved Curious George as a boy. Seeing George’s real cousins, I asked our tour guide, “Can I give a banana to the monkey?” I had become the real-life Man with the Yellow Hat.

The tour guide responded with an immediate and stern refusal, “Absolutely not.”

He explained with a calm voice, “If you give a banana to a monkey you will destroy our ecosystem. You will teach monkeys to beg, and not forage, for food. You will pose danger to your fellow safari goers who might not have bananas to offer. And your action will cause other actions, for the plants, the wolves, the trees and everything else. You must not give a banana to the monkey.”

Using Software and a Crowd to Push the Frontiers of Human Understanding

Image: Opensourceway

Image: Opensourceway

As much as we depend on our gadgets and their accompanying software to do more of our daily tasks—from reminding us to go to meetings to crunching stats for our favorite sports players—human intelligence is far from obsolete. On the contrary, MIT computer science professor Rob Miller believes there will always be a margin between what humans understand and what computers can do.

To Create Jobs the Stock Market Needs a Little Inefficiency

Photo: Taste This Picture

Photo: Taste This Picture

As Americans, we love efficiency. In huge numbers, and with our wallets wide open, we rush toward anything that drives lower cost, highly liquid markets. Think about it. McDonald’s, Amazon and Costco dominate their industries with some combination of huge choice, overall lower prices and massive volume.

At scale, efficient markets can be great. Consumers get more for less, and producers profit from the combination of high volume at low cost. And efficiency begets even more efficiency – producers re-invest their profits to develop new products and to continue to lower production costs while consumer choice expands.

But sometimes the drive for efficiency goes too far.

So You Want to Compete Against Amazon?

Photo: Soumit

Photo: Soumit

I’ve had Amazon on my mind lately, part of which is due to my reading Brad Stone’s very interesting book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. I’ve described in earlier blog posts how Amazon is a brutal competitor for brick and mortar merchants due to their large and growing cost advantages and a maniacal commitment (at least most of the time) to having the lowest prices anywhere. (You can read more about it here.) These same drivers also make Amazon a heavyweight competitor for e-commerce companies as well.

Software Eats Storage

The Enterprise Hacker Rises

Photo: Sally Monster

Photo: Sally Monster

As a product manager at Google, Apple, and Wildfire, I’d at times spot a new breed of hacker in the wild. They lurked in the most sensitive areas of the business. They hunted for ways to manipulate, bend, and break our systems. I took to calling them Enterprise Hackers. If you’re smart, or just lucky, they are already inside your company – and they might just save your bacon.

Banishing Gridlock With Robot Cars

Photo: Collin Key

Photo: Collin Key

In 2003, Kurt Dresner showed up late to a meeting he had with his advisor, Peter Stone, the director of the Learning Agents Research Group at the University of Texas at Austin. Dresner had been sitting idly at a red light waiting for the light to turn. No cars came through. He could have crossed the road safely and been punctual. It was a complete waste of time. “I can do better,” Stone remembers the tardy Dresner saying.

Your Invitation to Remake a $3 Trillion Industry

When Hamlet Met Hip Hop

Every ten to fifteen years in our industry there are these huge tectonic plate shifts. When these transitions happen, profit pools are in play, competitors come out of nowhere, and innovation is at its finest. I think we're about to go through a huge shift.
Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman in conversation with Marc Andreessen

Cash Flow and Destiny

Reinventing Storage from the Inside Out

One Designer For Every Engineer

Some Thoughts on Startup Crowdfunding

30 Franchises

Rewriting an Entrepreneur’s Narrative

The SaaS Manifesto: Part Three – Creating an “Express Lane” for the Procurement of Departmental SaaS Applications

The SaaS Manifesto: Part Two – It’s Time to Build a Real Sales Team

The SaaS Manifesto: Rethinking the Business of Enterprise Computing

The Internet Is For Snacking

Shareholder’s Best Interests

Bringing the Shared Economy to the Enterprise

Where Orwell Got It Wrong

Why Malls Are Getting Mauled

Finding the Right Fit

The Best Board Member

People Marketplaces

Why Founders Fail: The Product CEO Paradox

How would you start a PayPal or rebuild Visa today?

The Idea Maze

The Series A Round is the New Series B Round

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