Connect/Enterprise: Building Products With Generative AI

a16z editorial

If one thing is certain about generative AI, it’s that no one knows exactly how it will play out from a product or user experience perspective. Which interfaces will win out? Which tasks will be augmented by large language models (LLMs), and which ones will be completely upended by them? How will creative AI models change our expectations of what we can do with computers?

We’re at a moment not unlike the advent of the web or the smartphone. It’s clear something huge is afoot, and the early applications are fun, interesting, and somewhat obvious. We can identify the early winners. What we don’t know is what second-order applications and use cases will emerge to reshape our personal and professional lives, and who will be the companies to build them.

We recently held our annual Connect/Enterprise event and, for this very reason, artificial intelligence—particularly generative AI and LLMs—was a major topic of conversation both on and off the stage. Below are some edited highlights from this year’s speakers, where they share their thoughts, experiences, and strategies around generative AI.

If you want to hear what these speakers and others had to say about growing their companies and fighting through tough times, you can do that here.

Marc Andreessen spoke with fellow a16z General Partner Martin Casado about how entrepreneurs and startups might think about generative AI, largely from a product perspective. In this first clip, he explains why he thinks generative AI is a major architectural shift in computing, and why it represents an opportunity for startups to get a leg up on incumbents.

In this clip, Marc suggests that taking full advantage of the unique nature of generative AI models will require a fundamental rethinking of how products, and computing, should work.

What’s the scale of the opportunity that AI presents? Per Marc: “If we’re right that this is one of those big platform shifts, this is going to be prime time, I think, for entrepreneurial thinking in a way that I certainly haven’t seen since the mid-nineties.”

Here are Marc’s thoughts on why open standards will be important in AI, explained through the lens of Microsoft’s early attempts to control web standards.

Atlassian President Anu Bharadwaj spoke with a16z General Partner Kristina Shen about Atlassian’s product and go-to-market strategy, including, in this clip, how the company is using generative AI to build new products for its diverse set of users and the changing definition of “teams.”

Anu does not think generative AI tools for writing software threaten the role of developers. Rather, she noted, “I think this actually … expands the arena for how many people can be developers, in the sense of, they can build apps, they can bring their ideas into creation a lot more quickly and a lot more effectively than they could do before.”

Navan Cofounder and CEO Ariel Cohen spoke with a16z General Partner Ben Horowitz about a wide range of topics, including how the company hopes to modernize the travel-booking experience via AI-powered agents—even if it takes a while for users to become comfortable with a new UI and UX.

Asked how generative AI tools might affect the jobs of software engineers and other roles, Ariel explained that it’s like anything else in tech: “You always need to adjust, definitely, if you are in tech. … You have to learn, you have to adjust, and, if you’re not, you’ll have a problem to find a job. That’s reality.”

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