a16z Podcast: Brand Building Ideas… and People

Many technical founders, academics, and other experts often believe that great products — or great ideas! — sell themselves, without any extra effort or marketing. But in reality, they often need PR (public relations).

The irony is, most of the work involved in PR is actually invisible to the public — when it works, that is — and therefore hard for those from the outside to see let alone understand. So how does such brand-building really work? In this 10-year anniversary episode of the a16z Podcast (and our 499th episode), a16z operating partner Margit Wennmachers shares the case study of her work at The Outcast Agency (which she co-founded) and of building the a16z brand (where she heads marketing and was the first and one of the earliest hires).

What’s the backstory there? What’s the backstory behind some of the most popular media stories and op-eds — like “software is eating the world” — and what can it teach us about how PR and brand-building works in practice? Because — like many software companies — the product is so abstract, and not something you can physically touch, what kind of subtle decisions and tactics big and small does it take? Answering some frequently asked questions (in conversation with editor in chief Sonal Chokshi) that we often get around how things work, Wennmachers reveals (just some;) of the details behind the scenes. Given that technology is all about disintermediating “brokers” in the middle, will tech one day replace PR? And finally, what’s the hidden Silicon Valley network mafia that NO one talks about?