a16z Podcast

Cloud Wars, Company Wars, and Innovating Through Change

Michael Dell, Martin Casado, Marc Andreessen, and Sonal Chokshi

Posted September 7, 2022

There are lots of challenges in being public while trying to innovate, and limits to being a private company as well; but it’s rare to see a company go public then private then back to public again. As is the case with Dell Technologies, one of the largest tech companies — which went private 2012-2013 and then also pulled off one of the most epic mergers of all time with Dell + EMC + VMWare 2015-2016 (and which we wrote about here at the time).

Is there a method to the madness? How does one not just start, but keep, and transform, their company and business? Especially as it adapts to broader, underlying tech platform shifts. Michael Dell shares all this in his upcoming new bookPlay Nice But Win: A CEO’s Journey from Founder to Leader… he also, tellingly, may be one of the longest-standing founder-CEOs (37 years so far).

Because this is really a story about innovation, who decides, who judges, who does it, and where: In the markets, in public, in private; in the both the big picture and the inner detailed workings of a business beyond “cells in a spreadsheet”; and even in fighting — or harnessing! — narratives, whether it’s the demise-of-PC or cloud wars 1.0 /2.0… And where trends like the cost paradox of cloud, and “end of cloud” edge computing, among others like AI & ML, also come in. In this special book-launch episode of the a16z Podcast with Marc Andreessen, Martin Casado, and Sonal Chokshi debate the Cloud Wars to the Company Wars (along with some behind-scenes stories and even some star wars) with Michael Dell… and whether you can really play nice to win.