It seems like we hear about new corporate (not to mention consumer) hacks in the news every week. Is this something new, or just a continuation of old patterns and we just happen to be hearing about it more now? In this segment of the a16z Podcast, longtime security investigative reporter Kim Zetter of Wired breaks down how hacks happen. What’s old (like phishing), what’s new (like spear-phishing and ransomware)? How are players around the world — whether for government or economic espionage — becoming ever more sophisticated, coordinated, and organized? And what can companies do? MORE
It has long been the case that technological change outpaces changes to policy and law. Beyond important safety measures, some regulations take the form of complex processes or workflows that simply don’t apply to startups doing different things. Or, that involve prohibitive fees, time, and other resources that startups can’t afford.
For companies on the frontlines of the so-called ‘sharing economy’ — What’s working? What needs to be changed? This segment of the a16z Podcast shares founders’ perspectives and experiences on what startups need to be able to innovate in this (and other areas!) in the current regulatory environment… Especially as software continues to eat the physical world. MORE
Life scientists currently spend more than 180 billion dollars every year to generate precious research results. Yet they don’t spend anywhere near as much effort on making the results of that research reproducible, searchable, and machine-readable. “Half the money we spend on research is repeated; the trouble is we don’t know which half.” The classic solution has been the physical laboratory notebook. However, in an era of geographically distributed conglomerates, massive biomedical datasets, and increasingly computerized workflows, we will not attain reproducible research through good note-taking alone. We need modern tools.
That’s where Benchling comes in. They’ve built a suite of apps, centered around a digital laboratory notebook, that help life scientists design, run, record, and search the results of their very expensive experiments. Already adopted by thousands of scientists across both industry and academia, Benchling’s technology could becoming to biomedicine what GitHub has become to software engineering. MORE
Every meeting a busy founder takes is time away from building the company. So it’s understandable why engaging corporate development groups is believed to be a waste of time, unless you’re selling your company. But there are actually several benefits to engaging with corporate development — it just depends on your goals, and on the particular mandate of the group you’re engaging. Understanding these differences is critical to deciding whether corporate development is useful for your startup or not… MORE
It is something we all face — the prospect of taking care of a parent (or two) when they can’t quite take care of themselves. For Seth Sternberg, part of the founding team of messaging service Meebo (bought by Google) a trip in the car with his mother reinforced the inevitability of her aging. Today it was her driving, but soon how would she manage everything else? MORE
Mergers and acquisitions activity around the world continues on a tear. Last year alone saw $3.5 trillion of deal-making, just below the all-time high of 2007. Technology companies accounted for $214 billion of that, near the records of 1999 and 2000.
Yet the apparent strength of the technology M&A market belies what is really happening. The vast majority of tech acquisitions since the financial crisis are “non-growth” transactions — going-private deals or consolidation by large, established technology companies.
Of the roughly $900 billion in tech marriages completed since 2009, only about 10 percent represent “growth” transactions, or deals involving rapidly expanding, venture-financed private companies or modern software-as-a-service providers. And even that is distorted. About 60 percent of tech M&A volume is represented by five acquirers: Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP. Three deals — Facebook’s $19.5 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, Microsoft’s $8.5 billion purchase of Skype, and SAP’s $9.1 billion takeover of Concur — accounted for 40 percent of the volume.
This means the majority of tech M&A is not obviously in support of forward-looking growth plays. It seems to be in defense of supporting low-growth technologies from the previous product cycle. With the Nasdaq up nearly 350 percent since its nadir in 2009, there should be more growth-oriented M&A.
So what’s causing the relative paucity of “growth” transactions? MORE
Virtualization has been a key driver behind every major trend in software, from search to social networks to SaaS, over the past decade. In fact, most of the applications we use — and cloud computing as we know it today — would not have been possible without the server utilization and cost savings that resulted from virtualization. But now, new cloud architectures are reimagining the entire data center. Virtualization as we know it can no longer keep up.
Virtual machines aren’t dead. But they can’t keep up with the requirements of microservices and next-generation applications… MORE