In this special international edition of the a16z Podcast, Mohsen Malayeri, co-founder of Avatech — one of the more prominent startup accelerators in Iran among many (much like YCombinator in the U.S.) — talks about startups in Iran. What happens when you have a mobile-first startup ecosystem? Is this about trying to be yet another Silicon Valley? Silicon Valley isn’t a religion, observes Malayeri, but entrepreneurship IS “a common language which has no border”. MORE
In this special international edition of the a16z Podcast, Nazanin Daneshvar, co-founder and CEO of Takhfifan, the “Groupon of Iran”, shares her experiences and broader observations about the startup ecosystem and tech infrastructure in Iran. How did she do it? (Hint: With a bit of subterfuge and clever cloaking.) What are the attitudes toward failure in a time and place where startups aren’t really considered a real thing? MORE
It’s tempting to simplify these two tales of Iran into a polarizing discussion of “theocracy” versus “technology,” “closed” versus “open,” or even of the tension between “local” versus “global.” All of these simplifications are a huge mistake. For one thing, they grossly diminish an extremely rich, nuanced, and yes, sometimes messy story… Because in reality, Iran is a country where Facebook is banned, yet in the conservative, holy city of Qom a Grand Ayatollah — among the highest echelons of clerics — lamented to us excessive use of Facebook among his grandchildren. It is a country that is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, but that has become a magnet to the fastest-growing economy in the world: Possibly 30,000 or more Chinese expatriates are now living in Tehran alone. Many of them speak Farsi.
The analogy that immediately comes to mind here (and that has been applied to the narrative of other countries evolving so) is of a palimpsest, where every layer underneath is covered up by some new truth, but what’s imprinted there also never entirely disappears.
But this analog analogy feels sorely inadequate in an age of digital. Because, as the Silicon Valley leader Marc Andreessen says, “software is eating the world,” technology is reshaping all of our societies, and that world includes, not excludes, Iran. MORE
In this age of recurring services, can’t we just get the things we use — the things we want — without having to think about it every time? For startups, it’s ideal when consumers think this way because it means not having to keep “selling” to those customers over and over and over again. Instead, convince the buyers once … and keep them for years. That’s where “Mass SaaS” comes in. MORE
One of the most active and fastest growing open source big data cluster computing projects is Apache Spark, which was originally developed at U.C. Berkeley’s AMPLab and is now used by internet giants and other companies around the world. Including, as announced most recently, IBM. In this Q&A with Spark inventor Matei Zaharia on the heels of the recent Spark Summit, we cover the difference between Hadoop MapReduce and Spark; what are the ingredients of a successful open source project; and the story of how Spark almost helped a friend win a million dollars. MORE