a16z Podcast: From Research to Startup, There and Back Again

The period from 2000-2016 was one of the best of times and worst of times for tech and the Valley (dotcom, financial crisis, Google IPO, Facebook founded, unprecedented growth, and so on), and John Hennessy — current chairman of Alphabet, also on the boards of Cisco and other organizations — was the president of Stanford University during that entire time. Given this vantage point, what are his views on Silicon Valley (will there ever be another one, and if so where?); the “Stanford model” (for transferring IP, and talent, into the world); and of course, on education (and especially access)?

Hennessy also co-founded startups, including one based on pioneering microprocessor architecture used in 99% of devices today (for which he and his collaborator won the prestigious Turing Award)… so what did it take to go from research/idea to industry/implementation? General partners Marc Andreessen and Martin Casado, who also founded startups while inside universities (Netscape, Nicira) and led them to successful exits (IPO, acquisition by VMWare), also join this episode of the a16z podcast with Sonal Chokshi to share their perspectives.

But beyond those instances, how has the overall relationship and “divide” between academia and industry shifted, especially as the tech industry itself has changed… and perhaps talent has, too? Finally, in his new book, Leading Matters, Hennessy shares some of the leadership principles he’s learned — and instilling through the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program — offering nuanced takes on topics like humility (needs ambition), empathy (without contravening fairness and reason), and others. What does it take to build not just tech, but a successful organization?

image credit: Jitze Couperus / Flickr