a16z Podcast

Growth in Turbulent Times

Andrew Chen, Brian Balfour, and Lauren Murrow

Posted May 15, 2020

In normal times, every company operates against some hypothetical growth model—a data-driven framework that describes how your product grows and how you acquire new users. These, of course, are not normal times. In the fallout from the pandemic, most founders and CEOs are in the process of completely revamping their growth models from the bottom up amid new and unpredictable consumer behavior.

This episode explores how to think about growth in turbulent times, according to two growth experts: a16z general partner Andrew Chen, who previously led the growth team at Uber, and Brian Balfour, formerly the VP of Growth at HubSpot, now the founder and CEO of Reforge, a masterclass in growth strategies (in conversation with host Lauren Murrow).

The discussion spans four sections: first, how to reassess your existing growth model, particularly when, as Brian says, the data is “completely messed”; next, we drill down into strategy and tactics for surviving the current crisis and talk about how founders can pursue growth even in the midst of widespread uncertainty and cutbacks. Third, we look ahead to discuss scenario planning and how leaders can forge a path forward. Finally, we zoom out and assess the big picture: how various categories of company may be impacted long-term, how this crisis compares to 2008 (and what that means for early-stage founders), and the industries and business models that are now prime for growth.