a16z Podcast: Startups and Pendulum Swings Through Ideas, Time, Fame, and Money

Everything old is new again when it comes to startup ideas and how technology innovation happens. But practically, how does that apply to starting and/or working at startups — especially since the default state of every company is “dying in obscurity”?

In this episode of the a16z Podcast, Marc Andreessen and 21 co-founder Balaji Srinivasan cover everything from deciding what ideas to work on and the optimal type of startups to work at, to the funding environment and pendulum swings of deciding when to IPO. They also discuss the VC “formula” of weighting product vs. market vs. team; the full-stack approach to cracking industries that tech could never enter before; and recent tech trends and news including The DAO, AI, VR/AR and the “Instagrammification of everything”, more.

And where does Andreessen stand on the “moral dilemma” of whether entrepreneurs should drop out of college or not? Would Srinivasan still do a PhD today? People’s early career goals should be about maximizing learning skills and minimizing “personal burn”, they argue. But no matter what, Andreessen believes, smart people — from all industries, not just tech — should build things. It’s also easier to get through startup hard times when there’s an ideological mission motivating you, observes Srinivasan.

This episode is based on a May 2016 conversation that was recorded as part of the Annual Distinguished Speaker Series with Thought Leaders in Technology, hosted by engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi at Stanford University.

photo credit: Ryan Jae/ The Stanford Daily