12 Things I Learned From Marc Andreessen

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The basic math component is that there are about 4,000 startups a year that are founded in the technology industry which would like to raise venture capital and we can invest in about 20… MORE

Do You Feel Pressure or Do You Apply Pressure?

“To whoever think their words affect me is too stupid
And if you can do it better than me, then you do it”
—Kanye West,
“Cold”

 
One obvious yet under-appreciated law of business physics is: For any given company, the larger the company becomes, the more opportunities emerge to screw it up.

Another obvious, but not well understood law: The more screwed up your company, the more people will complain about it and blame you.

If we take these two together, it is easy to see that without intervention the larger your company becomes, the more people will complain and blame you.

This seems simple enough, but CEOs often fail to understand the logic, become overwhelmed by the criticism, lose confidence in themselves, and decide that they are no longer capable of running their own companies. This can be tragic as I explained in “Why We Prefer Founding CEOs”.

If you are a logical and open-minded person, it is difficult not to take a 10X increase in criticism seriously. More importantly, it’s difficult not to take a 10X increase in criticism personally. So how can a CEO keep from getting ground into sawdust by complaints from her own people? The answer comes from a simple CEO aphorism: You either apply pressure or you feel pressure. MORE

Hey Biggest Spender: Federal IT

Unbundling Innovation: Samsung, PCs and China

From Rap Genius to Genius

“They call me Jay Electronica – f*ck that
Call me Jay ElecHanukkah, Jay ElecYarmulke
Jay ElecRamadaan, Muhammad A’salaamaleikum
RasoulAllah Subhanahu wa ta’ala through your monitor”
—Jay Electronica, “
Exhibit C

 

When we first invested in Rap Genius, many people asked us why a Silicon Valley venture capital firm would invest in a website about rap music. We patiently explained that Rap Genius was not just about rap, but was a platform for capturing the knowledge about the knowledge for rap and everything else. I then pointed to important examples in literature, poetry, law, and current events.

Given the broad and important ambition of the company, starting with rap was ideal. This was not intuitive to most. As I have come to understand, for many rap music is either trivial or indecipherable, and “too ethnic.” In reality, rap artists delivered the greatest poetry of the past 30+ years and have given meaning, inspiration, and hope to people across ethnicities.

Why this difference between perception and reality? Because understanding rap requires deep context. To fully appreciate it, you need knowledge of the culture, knowledge of the history, and knowledge of the people. In other words, rap is the perfect category for a platform that aims to provide the knowledge about the knowledge… MORE

a16z Podcast: Government Transparency Powered by Software

 

a16z_govxtech-series2014What if we could tap into our government with the same speed and ease as our smartphones and search? Can technology make a difference in how government operates, and how we citizens interact with it? Two-time Mountain View Mayor Mike Kasperzak, OpenGov CEO Zac Bookman, and a16z’s Tom Rikert discuss government’s historically uneasy relationship with technology, how a growing trend in government transparency is being powered by software, and why you should be glad your local city council takes its sweet time to pass a budget.

Auto-Autonomy: Cars Are Racing Toward Disruption

Photo: Google

Photo: Google

Sitting in traffic — and then being unable to park in downtown San Francisco — motivated me to write this post.

The auto industry, for much of the 20th century, represented American ideals. The “Big Three” represented millions employed directly, often in jobs that raised standards of living. The leaders of auto companies came to define modern management, from Alfred Sloan to the Whiz Kids. Cars and culture became intertwined. The suburban lifestyle, from malls to minivans, was enabled by cars.

Through oil shocks, quality imports, labor challenges, urban sprawl, bankruptcies and more, the auto industry has continued to be a massive and essential part of the U.S. economy, and a huge part of growing economies.

That’s what makes the disruption afoot in automobiles even more fascinating. The rule of thumb about disruption is that you can’t predict it while it is happening, and if you’re the incumbent, you are hearing about disruption at every turn. That’s why it is tricky to assert that the auto industry is being disrupted. MORE

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