Is it possible to (pardon the pun) engineer new Silicon Valleys? What are the roles of government, academia, and private industry? MIT’s Associate Dean for Innovation, Fiona Murray, joins the podcast to discuss what she has learned studying successful, and not so successful, innovation ecosystems around the globe.
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about what happens when founders who don’t have “muscle memory” — from having been through a down market — meet a market where capital for private companies is not quite as readily available as it has been recently. We thought it would be worth sharing more of what we tell our founders about how to think more strategically by taking a long-term perspective when raising capital.
But our advice to founders is actually very simple: Whenever you’re raising money, think about constructing the round in such a way that you’re strongly positioned to raise future rounds of capital. This generally means raise enough money that puts the company in a strong position to achieve the necessary operational and financial milestones as well as valuation inflection points that will maximize the probability of raising future rounds of capital — even if you don’t think you’ll need to. MORE
Many of the most successful companies that a16z has been associated with have their foundations in academia — from routers to data science to the web browser itself. That’s why we now have a professor in residence; Vijay Pande will be a16z’s dedicated liaison to academia. With one foot in both worlds, he is a natural first point of contact for any professor or graduate student in a CS or STEM discipline considering commercializing their research.
We sat down with Pande to find out more about his views on how universities can support entrepreneurs, the role universities play in innovation ecosystems, MOOCs as the ‘newspapers’ of academia, and just what makes Stanford so special when it comes to startups. MORE
People routinely debate whether government spending should be increased or decreased, but virtually everyone agrees that it should be spent as transparently and efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, even as millions of people come to depend on social services in tough times, trust in the government has hit historically low levels. To restore faith, it would be useful for government officials to have the tools they need to ensure that every dollar is spent appropriately.
But the software for managing and analyzing government spending has lagged behind, especially at the local level. Answering even seemingly simple questions about government budgets can be onerous, involving object queries into aging database systems or manual searches through PDF documents or spreadsheets. Many local governments use enterprise accounting systems or ERP systems written 30 years ago. There’s a distinct lack of visibility into the thousands of line items that constitute a typical government budget. MORE
If you look at the Fortune 500, roughly 200 to 300 board seats open up each year. Now consider the thousands of senior executives across industries jockeying for those seats. The competition is beyond fierce, especially if you have never served on a big public company board before. And it’s especially difficult for women. MORE
Software, and the billions of transistors that power it, has brought about massive change to all kinds of industries, but none more so than the news business. Today, distribution doesn’t come from the back of trucks, but from Facebook, Twitter, and all across the social web. Relationships with readers and viewers have become a two-way conversation. It’s not news that the traditional business model of news has come under extreme pressure, but there is growing evidence that the reach of media outlets — and in many ways the opportunity — has never been greater. In today’s unending news cycle, the latest story, video or graphic is only a tap away from a potential audience of billions around the world. Andreessen Horowitz’s Margit Wennmachers leads a conversation about the road ahead for good journalism and the business of news with Claire Cain Miller from the New York Times, Alexis Madrigal from The Atlantic, and CNET’s Connie Guglielmo.
Jonah Peretti is building BuzzFeed to “inform, inspire and entertain” in a world where news and entertainment is increasingly passed around on social networks and consumed on smartphones. Chris Dixon, who is on the board of BuzzFeed as part of Andreessen Horowitz’s recent investment in the startup, sat down with Peretti to talk about building a media company from scratch. If editorial success is driven by digital word-of-mouth, and mountains of data about what people like to read and watch, what does Peretti do differently? Why do BuzzFeed’s lists work so well? Does video finally make financial sense? And why, even if it’s a traffic monster now, is Peretti not religious about any particular format — including lists. (For more on Dixon’s take on the media business, and BuzzFeed’s “full stack” approach check out this recent post.)