Software, and the billions of transistors that power it, has brought about massive change to all kinds of industries, but none more so than the news business. Today, distribution doesn’t come from the back of trucks, but from Facebook, Twitter, and all across the social web. Relationships with readers and viewers have become a two-way conversation. It’s not news that the traditional business model of news has come under extreme pressure, but there is growing evidence that the reach of media outlets — and in many ways the opportunity — has never been greater. In today’s unending news cycle, the latest story, video or graphic is only a tap away from a potential audience of billions around the world. Andreessen Horowitz’s Margit Wennmachers leads a conversation about the road ahead for good journalism and the business of news with Claire Cain Miller from the New York Times, Alexis Madrigal from The Atlantic, and CNET’s Connie Guglielmo.
Jonah Peretti is building BuzzFeed to “inform, inspire and entertain” in a world where news and entertainment is increasingly passed around on social networks and consumed on smartphones. Chris Dixon, who is on the board of BuzzFeed as part of Andreessen Horowitz’s recent investment in the startup, sat down with Peretti to talk about building a media company from scratch. If editorial success is driven by digital word-of-mouth, and mountains of data about what people like to read and watch, what does Peretti do differently? Why do BuzzFeed’s lists work so well? Does video finally make financial sense? And why, even if it’s a traffic monster now, is Peretti not religious about any particular format — including lists. (For more on Dixon’s take on the media business, and BuzzFeed’s “full stack” approach check out this recent post.)
Nir Eyal and Product Hunt’s Ryan Hoover, the authors of “Hooked, How to Build Habit-Forming Products,” discuss the theory and practice of the book as the publish date of a new edition approaches. Nir lays out the four steps integral to any habit-forming product — trigger, action, reward, investment — and Ryan describes how those same steps apply to the fast-growing Product Hunt.
There are great examples of communities helping to grow and solidify online marketplaces. eBay in its early days certainly leveraged the power of community to bring buyers and sellers onto its platform. Today, companies like Etsy, Uber and Airbnb are turning toward community for new ideas and new customers. But how do you build community, and how do you balance the needs of the community and the needs of the business? Or to put it another way, how do you simultaneously give up control and maintain control? Andreessen Horowitz board partner Boris Wertz – who built his own community while running Abe Books – is joined by Tindie’s CEO Emile Petrone and head of engineering Julia Grace to pick apart the notion of community. Can it be engineered? How much leverage do you give your “super-users,” and for some businesses is community even necessary?
It’s a problem most entrepreneurs would love to face, a massive valuation offer from investors for the startup they’ve been killing themselves over. But what terms come along with that big number? In this segment a16z’s Scott Kupor is joined by two startup CEOs to pick apart the topic of valuations – serial entrepreneur Danny Shader, founder of PayNearMe, and Danielle Morrill, co-founder of Mattermark.
Profitless Ponzi scheme, or the greatest company in the world led by an absolute genius? Amazon is a polarizing company. Quarter after quarter, as it grows ever larger gobbling up categories and adding businesses, Amazon manages to produce exactly no profit. It’s as if its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos engineered it that way. He has, and Bezos will continue on the same profitless path, says Benedict Evans in conversation with Ben Horowitz in this segment of the a16z podcast. Benedict and Ben (yeah, we know, two Bens) examine the company Bezos has constructed, and why, for Bezos at least as opposed to nervous investors, it works so well. How one of the world’s great founders gets away with building a massive public company his way. Be sure to check out Benedict’s post on the topic for all the charts and numbers.