a16z Podcast: Not all Network Effects Are Created Equal

From hardware and hardwires to smartphones and social, technology wants to connect. It’s almost a native property of technology and especially software businesses, which is why network effects matter. “It was endemic to these technologies that they wanted to become connected and once connected, they become networks and once networks, they become network effects. Other products like cars or toasters or houses or whatever, aren’t natively connected physically or through information sharing,” observes James Currier.

But not all network effects are equal — not only can they be strong or weak, there are many different types depending on the business. Currier, who is the co-founder and managing partner of an accelerator (NFX Guild) that advises and runs a runs a program for all kinds of early-stage companies with network effects, shares their ever-evolving taxonomy for thinking about different types of network effects in this episode of the a16z podcast.

These labels matter. It’s not just words, but language that aids understanding — and the corresponding growth playbook — that can help build businesses with network effects, especially given the specific challenges they face. And finally, why did some companies with network effects take off but others didn’t?