Top 10 a16z Live conversations of 2021

In 2021, we launched a16z Live to capture and share live discussions and events featuring, hosted, or co-hosted by a16z. Many of these different discussions and events take place on the social audio/ drop-in chat app Clubhouse, and here we round up ten of our favorites, covering many of the most notable technology megatrends and stories in 2021 – GameStop, NFTs, the cost of cloud, remote work, mRNA vaccines, and more.

To catch more of a16z Live

Elon Musk + Vlad Tenev on The Good Time Show

    It was Elon Musk’s debut on Clubhouse – where he shared his thoughts on COVID-19 vaccines, crypto, AI, and colonizing mars – and then Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev joined the stage to unpack what happened with the Wall Street Bets saga.

    Voices: Elon Musk, Aarthi Ramamurthy, Vlad Tenev, Sriram Krishnan, Marc Andreessen, Steven Sinofsky

    Summary

    • When are we going to get to Mars? [3:00]
    • Understanding the scope and scale of consciousness [6:07]
    • Self-sustaining city on Mars or World War III? [11:34]
    • Neuralink [22:54]
    • Musk on education [33:32]
    • Musk on cryptocurrencies [39:32]
    • Musk’s typical day [52:48]
    • Robinhood and Gamestop [1:19:00]

    Ken Griffin on Unfettered Conversations with A and Z

      The GameStop saga was a seminal moment for retail investors and meme stocks. Ken Griffin, CEO and founder of Citadel, revisits GameStop one year later and looks at why the stock price hasn’t crashed and what it says about the new market dynamics. Plus, he talks about his winning bid for the Constitution in the auction against ConstitutionDAO.

      Voices: Marc Andreessen, Ken Griffin, Alex Rampell

      Summary

      • What happened with Gamestop from Citadel’s perspective? [1:46]
      • Why hasn’t GameStop’s stock crash [12:18]
      • Retail investing [16:43]
      • Griffin’s winning bid for the Constitution [17:37]

      a16z Infra #6: The Cost of Cloud vs. Repatriation

        For many SaaS companies, the cost of cloud can be 50% or more of COGS. When does the cost of cloud become too much? a16z Infra host Martin Casado brings together guests with different strategies and experiences for managing the cost of cloud, from full repatriation to doubling down on AWS.

        Voices: Ben Schaechter, Corey Quinn, Sarah Wang, Martin Casado, Zack Kanter, Kostadis Roussos, Steve Tuck

        Summary

        • The core findings of a16z’s The Cost of Cloud [5:22]
        • Cloud is a significant part of COGS for public SaaS companies [8:38]
        • Should you allocate engineers to reduce cloud cost or just focus on growth? [12:06]
        • How much of a problem is not knowing cloud spend? [15:56]
        • The tradeoff between focusing cost and engineering resources [19:33]
        • Should large public SaaS companies repatriate? [23:41]
        • Performance matters — it’s not all about cost [31:55]
        • Is all the talent for running data centers at Google, AWS, and Azure? [37:46]
        • Will the cloud feature set become commoditized? [44:57]
        • Cloud oligopoly and market dynamics [50:39]

        4B with Margit #9: What Exactly Is Growth Hacking?

          Growth hacking is one of the biggest buzz words among startup founders and marketers. We debate what it is (and isn’t), as well as what is (and isn’t) effective, with three long-time growth hackers.

          Voices: Morgan Brown (VP of Growth, Shopify), Fareed Mosavat (VP Programs & Partners, Reforge), Andrew Chen, Das Rush, Tina Wie, Katie Baynes

          Summary

          • The origins of growth hacking [1:20]
          • Brand building vs. growth hacking? [13:58]
          • Where does growth fit into the organization? [31:06]
          • The cold start problem: growth hacking from 0 to 1 [36:47]
          • What can’t be measured? [47:53]
          • How do you test and validate new channels? [51:38]
          • Do growth hacks always work, or at some point does it come down to product? [54:55]
          • How do you allocate a budget? [1:00:27]

          Kickstarting Network Effects

            Network effects can be found powering almost every major technology company, from messaging apps and workplace collaboration tools, like Slack and Zoom, to marketplaces, like Airbnb and Instacart to even the internet itself. But how do you cold start and get your first creators? How does your relationship to creators change as you scale? And how is web3 changing the incentives and dynamics around network effects? We look at the role of network effects creator-driven social platforms the cofounders of Reddit and Clubhouse.

            Voices: Andrew Chen, Alexis Ohanian, Paul Davison, Das Rush

            Summary

            • What are network effects? [1:32]
            • How do you cold start and get your first users? [2:33]
            • Atomic networks and why minimum viable community is more important than minimum viable product [6:36]
            • How do you curate your network and set norms? [8:42]
            • Faking users: good idea, bad idea? [13:13]
            • What is flintstoning? [14:26]
            • How does the relationship to creators change as you scale? [17:07]
            • Building for the professional creator class [22:52]
            • How is web3 changing incentives? [25:12]

            One on One with A and Z #9: The Big Questions around Remote Work

              a16z cofounders Marc and Ben, joined by special guest Steven Sinofsky, former President of Microsoft Windows, discuss talent retention, management and communication, the future of Silicon Valley, and other big unanswered questions surrounding remote work.

              Voices: Marc Andreessen, Steven Sinofsky, Ben Horowitz

              Summary

              • What was the biggest surprise from the past 15 months of remote work? [5:24]
              • How do you handle conflict and build trust? [10:09]
              • What’s the role of offsites? [15:45]
              • Should you adjust compensation for different geographies? [24:02]
              • How do you measure productivity? [34:10]
              • What is the impact of remote work on retention and turnover? [49:17]
              • How do startups built on decentralized platforms (e.g., Ethereum) function? [53:36]
              • Is this the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley? [56:07]

              a16z Bio: The mRNA Revolution with Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel

                Just 48 hours after the sequence for the virus was published, Moderna had developed a COVID vaccine using new mRNA technology. Why is mRNA technology so revolutionary? How effective will it be in combating new COVID variants? And what other diseases and health conditions does mRNA have the potential to treat?

                Voices: Vijay Pande, Vineeta Agarwala, Judy Savitskaya, Jorge Conde, Stephane Bancel

                Summary

                • mRNA research before COVID and how “mRNA is code” [3:21]
                • The early days of COVID: designing a vaccine in 48 hours [5:44]
                • The software behind the vaccine: getting mRNA researchers out of Excel and into a drug design studio [9:11]
                • The first draft of the vaccine was the final draft [11:10]
                • How the government sped up vaccine development for COVID [12:18]
                • What other new vaccines will come from mRNA? [15:34]
                • How far are we from these mRNA vaccines? What do we need for them to be widely available? [25:31]
                • Open sourcing Moderna [27:53]
                • When will COVID vaccines be available for a five year old? [29:47]
                • The three factors that matter when dealing with COVID variants [30:46]
                • How might open source shake up biotech [36:41]
                • The moonshot applications for mRNA therapeutics [39:43]
                • Advice for building a new category in a regulated environment [46:49]
                • The clinical or regulatory advances needed to speed drug time to market [51:08]
                • Challenge trials for vaccines: good or bad idea? [59:11]

                Beating the Incumbents with Michael Ovitz on Boss Talk

                  In 1975, a few large talent agencies dominated the entertainment industry. To break into the industry, Michael and CAA came up with a new playbook — rather than a single agent representing an actor or actress, he turned the entire agency into a network. That playbook served as inspiration for Marc and Ben when they first started a16z and were assessing how to break into an industry dominated by a few large incumbents.

                  Voices: Felicia Horowitz, Michael Ovitz, Marc Andreessen, Ali Ghodsi, Ben Horowitz

                  Boss Talk #10: The Story is the Strategy with Dave McJannet

                    HashiCorp CEO Dave McJannet explains his mantra — the story is the strategy — and the repeatable marketing framework he’s used to position GitHub, Hortonworks, and now HashiCorp as new categories.

                    Voices: Dave McJannet, Zayd Enam, Ali Ghodsi, Ben Horowitz

                    Summary

                    • How do the best product marketers see and explain a trend?
                    • How much is the best marketing truth vs. spin?
                    • Does the marketing function create the strategy or execute on it?
                    • What are the core skills and competencies of a great product marketer — and how do you find, or train, product marketers?
                    • Should you create a category, or try to capture an existing category?
                    • What is the minimum viable audience?
                    • What’s the role of open source in getting a minimum viable audience?
                    • How should an open source company handle DevRel, licensing, and big cloud competitors?

                    Good Time Show: Metaverse + Crypto

                      A panel of metaverse OGs touches on everything from the roles of gaming and crypto to why community, NFTs and an open economy are important to the evolution and growth of the metaverse.

                      Voices: Aarthi Ramamurthy, Donnie Dinch (founder and CEO Bitski), Gabby Dizon (cofounder, Yield Guild Games), Jarrod Dicker (operating partner, TCG), Jesse Walden (founder, Variant Fund), Jon Lai, Packy McCormick, Sriram Krishnan, Twobadour, Justin “3LAU” Blau

                      Summary

                      • What is the metaverse? [3:30]
                      • Why is the rise of the metaverse happening now? [5:39]
                      • How were games the earliest progenitors of the metaverse? [5:39]
                      • What is important about the metaverse [9:33]
                      • Guilds and the economic opportunities in the metaverse [12:48]
                      • What is a play to earn game like Axie Infinity? [14:09]
                      • The future of work and the passion economy [21:40]
                      • Status as a service (Staas) [26:46]
                      • Owning a stake in the network [28:47]
                      • Crypto and the development of the metaverse [29:10]
                      • Interoperability in the metaverse [31:40]
                      • Community, ownership and governance [35:25}
                      • Commerce and monetization [46:32]
                      • Is the metaverse good for us? [56:30]

                      Capital Markets #1 with MSCI CEO Henry Fernandez: What goes into an index?

                        MSCI Inc manages the world index, tracking more than 20,000 companies in developed, emerging, and frontier economies, and is critical to benchmarking investment opportunity as well as risk and portfolio performance. In this Clubhouse conversation, MSCI CEO Henry Fernandez talks with Alex Rampell and Scott Kupor about how MSCI got started, how they construct an index and keep it accurate, the business model around indices, and the renewed importance of ESG in evaluating investments.

                        Voices: Scott Kupor, Alex Rampell, Henry Fernandez

                        Summary

                        • The MSCI origin story [1:07]
                        • How does an index get constructed? [6:51]
                        • How do you keep an index accurate? [11:42]
                        • MSCI business model… how do they get paid? [16:27]
                        • MSCI, competition, and why not an open source index? [23:14]
                        • ESG and investment objectives [27:00]
                        • ESG disclosure frameworks and the role of government in ESG [32:50]
                        • Defining ESG [34:44]
                        • MSCI, crypto, and other asset classes [42:55]
                        • Why an index business instead of principal investing? [51:09]

                        ***

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