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a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast

Author: Andreessen Horowitz

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The a16z Podcast discusses tech and culture trends, news, and the future – especially as ‘software eats the world’. It features industry experts, business leaders, and other interesting thinkers and voices from around the world. This podcast is produced by Andreessen Horowitz (aka “a16z”), a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. Multiple episodes are released every week; visit a16z.com for more details and to sign up for our newsletters and other content as well!
338 Episodes
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More than 98% of the information on the web is lost within 20 years, and huge gaps exist in our digital and cultural history. Zoran Basich and Alex Pruden of a16z talk to Brewster Kahle and Sam Williams, who are using different approaches to attack this problem. Brewster cofounded the Internet Archive, which is well known for creating the Wayback Machine that crawls a billion URLs every day. Sam cofounded Arweave, a company that uses decentralized crypto networks to store information forever. For both of them, this issue has implications that go far beyond just data storage. It touches on issues of censorship, government manipulation of information, and how historical context is necessary for well-functioning societies. They discuss how decentralized models offer the promise of building a next-generation web that works better for users.
In part 1 of our series on human performance, we looked at the limits of human potential in climbing and other sports – and how we push those limits through technology and training.In this episode, recorded at our a16z innovation summit last year, Alex talks with a16z general partner and fellow avid climber Peter Levine about the risk, fear, and preparation for his free solo of El Capitan on Yosemite. While climbing is the topic, the conversation holds many lessons for entrepreneurs, and anyone else who is attempting something that’s never been done before – from how to evaluate risk versus reward, moving into the public spotlight from stealth, removing constraints to innovate on established routes, and knowing where you can fall and where you can’t. The conversation finishes with Alex’s life philosophy of living simply and giving back, including how he donates a third of all his income to the Honnold Foundation to support solar projects in underserved communities.
Is there a limit to what humans can do? And if so, how do you know when you've reached it? Welcome to part one of a two-part series on human performance with professional rock climber Alex Honnold. Alex redefined the limits of what is possible by free soloing – that is climbing with no ropes or safety gear – a 2000-foot granite rock face in Yosemite, known as El Capitan. That feat  was documented in the award-winning film Free Solo. In this podcast, Alex, a16z general partner Peter Levine (who at age 59 is still an avid ice climber), and Das Rush discuss how technology and training have pushed the limits of what's possible and how to manage the mental preparation of any big endeavor, whether its building a company, reaching a new peak, or maintaining peak performance while aging.In Part 2, recorded last year as part of our a16z innovation summit, we share a fireside chat with Peter and Alex  about the risk, preparation, and fear around Alex's free solo.  Photo credit: Shawn Corrigan 
"Why We Shouldn’t Fear the ‘Black Box’ of AI (in Healthcare and Everywhere)" by Vijay Pande. First published in the New York Times, January 2018. You can also find and share this article at a16z.com/aidoctor
"When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China" by Connie Chan. First published August 2015. You can also find and share this essay at a16z.com/mobilefirstchina
"Why Every Company Will Be a Fintech Company -- The Next Era of Financial Services and the 'AWS Phase' for Fintech" by Angela Strange.You can also find and share this essay at a16z.com/fintecheverywhere  
Read-Alouds, Continued

Read-Alouds, Continued

2020-07-0700:51

Today we're continuing a series we started a while ago of read-alouds (for more context on the why and why now check out episode #500 on how we podcast!).The first was episode #544 in April, It's Time to Build, read out loud by Marc Andreessen; what follows are  three more pieces read out loud by their authors:"Why Every Company Will Become a Fintech Company: The Next Era of Financial Services and the 'AWS Phase' for Fintech" by Angela Strange"When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China" by Connie Chan, first published August 2015"Why We Shouldn’t Fear the ‘Black Box’ of AI (in Healthcare and Everywhere)" by Vijay Pande, first published in the New York Times January 2018 
Eroom’s Law is Moore’s Law spelled backwards. It’s a term that was coined in a Nature Reviews Drug Discovery article by researchers at Sanford Bernstein and describes the exponential decrease in biopharma research and development efficiency between the 1950s and 2010. Whereas Moore’s describes technologies becoming exponentially faster and cheaper over time, Eroom’s Law describes the trend of drug development becoming exponentially more expensive over time.The article describing Eroom’s Law was published in 2012, and analyzed data up till 2010. That is perhaps ironic as 2010 appears to be an inflection point in the trend. In Breaking Eroom’s Law, the authors analyze the data since 2010 and show that costs appear to have stabilized over the last ten years. But what has contributed to this critical and exciting trend shift? In our conversation, Jorge and Vijay discuss the three causes cited by the authors of the Breaking Eroom’s Law article, their views on what technologies and policies will continue to push costs down, and their opinion on whether Eroom’s Law is broken for good.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the visibility of scientists and the scientific process to the broader public; suddenly, scientists working on virology and infectious disease dynamics have seen their public profiles rapidly expand. One such scientist is the special guest in this episode, Trevor Bedford, Associate Professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.An expert in genomic epidemiology, he and his collaborators built Nextstrain, which shares real-time, interactive data visualizations to track the spread of viruses through populations.a16z bio deal team partner Judy Savitskaya and Lauren Richardson chat with Trevor about how genomic epidemiology can inform public health decisions; viral mutation and spillover from animals into humans; what can be done now to prevent the next big pandemic; and the shift in scientific communication to pre-prints and open science.
In this episode of the a16z bio journal club, we cover one of the key clinical trials that supported the recent FDA approval of the first prescription video game. The game was developed by Akili Interactive, is called EndeavorRx, and is now a clinically-validated therapy for improving attention in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But how does a game improve attention? How does a clinical trial evaluate the efficacy of a game? And what are the pros and cons of a video game as compared to traditional pharmacological therapies for ADHD? Bio deal team partner Justin Larkin and Lauren Richardson delve into these questions and more in their discussion of this clinical trial:“A novel digital intervention for actively reducing severity of paediatric ADHD (STARS-ADHD): a randomised controlled trial” in Lancet Digital Health (April 2020) by Scott H Kollins, Denton J DeLoss, Elena Cañadas, Jacqueline Lutz, Robert L Findling, Richard S E Keefe, Jeffery N Epstein, Andrew J Cutler, and Stephen V Faraone.a16z bio Journal Club (part of the a16z Podcast), curates and covers recent advances from the scientific literature -- what papers we’re reading, and why they matter from our perspective at the intersection of biology & technology (for bio journal club). You can find all these episodes at a16z.com/journalclub.
Gross margins are essentially a company's revenue from products and services minus the costs to deliver those products and services to customers, and it's one of the most important financial metrics a startup can track.And yet, figuring out what goes into the "cost" for delivering products and services is not as simple as it may sound, particularly for high-growth software businesses that might use emerging business models or be leveraging new technology. Why do gross margins matter? When do they matter during a company's growth? And how do you use them to plan for the future?In this episode, a16z general partners Martin Casado, who invests in early stage enterprise startups and  David George, who leads our growth fund, and Sarah Wang  on the growth investing team share their perspectives on how to think about gross margins in both earlier and later stages at a startup. The conversation ranges from the nuances of and strategy for calculating margins with things like cloud costs, freemium users, or implementation costs to the impact margins can have on valuations. 
As more digital natives have entered the workplace, they have brought with them the expectation that their software should both be a joy to use and allow them to be power users. That is, users who configure and control it to better serves their needs. And often, these digital natives aren't just aspiring power users, they are also prosumers, who can and will pay for a premium experience. But first generation SaaS products have often struggled to deliver the experience these users crave.For today's founders and builders, how do you get the user experience right when a product has to delight your power users, while being something a less savvy user can pick up and learn?In this episode, a16z general partner David Ulevitch and Superhuman founder Rahul Vohra discuss how to build products that can turn any user into a power user. The conversation touches on themes from David's recent talk on products that adopt developer tools, like the command palette and keyboard shortcuts, to improve usability, and Rahul's talk on how to apply game design principles to product design. They cover how to onboard users to drive virality, when to expand to a second product, and how to use pricing to position a premium product.
In this episode of the a16z bio Journal Club, bio deal team partner Judy Savitskaya and Lauren Richardson discuss research that aims to enhance the efficiency of photosynthesis and carbon fixation. These two processes are used by plants and other phototrophs (like algae) to convert light energy and carbon dioxide from the air into organic matter. The pathways took millions of years to evolve, but can scientists use advances in biochemistry and synthetic biology to increase their efficiency? The two discussed were both published in the journal Science and are both from the lab of Tobias Erb at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology. The first article, published in 2016 develops a synthetic pathway for the fixation of carbon dioxide in vitro. The second article, which was published in May, combines this synthetic carbon fixation pathway with the natural photosynthetic pathway isolated from spinach to create an artificial chloroplast.This combination of natural and synthetic components to improve the efficiency of these pathways has a number of potential applications, including in engineering our crops to grow faster. We discuss these exciting applications, how evolution has restricted the efficiency of carbon fixation and how these engineered solutions get around that problem, and the use of microfluidics for vastly improved experimental design. "A synthetic pathway for the fixation of carbon dioxide in vitro" in Science (November 2016), by Thomas Schwander, Lennart Schada von Borzyskowski, Simon Burgener, Niña Socorro Cortina, Tobias J. Erb"Light-powered CO2 fixation in a chloroplast mimic with natural and synthetic parts" in Science (May 2020), by Tarryn E. Miller, Thomas Beneyton, Thomas Schwander, Christoph Diehl, Mathias Girault, Richard McLean, Tanguy Chotel, Peter Claus, Niña Socorro Cortina, Jean-Christophe Baret, Tobias J. Erba16z Journal Club (part of the a16z Podcast), curates and covers recent advances from the scientific literature -- what papers we’re reading, and why they matter from our perspective at the intersection of biology & technology (for bio journal club). You can find all these episodes at a16z.com/journalclub.
This episode is the second in a two-part series that examines the pandemic’s impact on real estate. Part 1 focused on prospective home buyers, sellers, and existing homeowners. This episode, Part 2, addresses renters and landlords.The conversation with host Lauren Murrow features a16z general partner Connie Chan, whose experience as a landlord herself has fueled her interest in residential real estate and technology; Richard Green, the director of USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate, and Adena Hefets, the CEO of Divvy Homes, a company that allows people to build up equity while renting a home, with the option to eventually buy it.We begin with the pressures on renters—and the uncertainty around federal relief measures—as well as the cascading effects on mom-and-pop landlords. Then we turn to the outlook for prices and volume in the rental market, particularly in large cities like New York and San Francisco. Finally, we discuss the opportunity for tech to solve outdated and inefficient processes for both renters and landlords.For more a16z content on real estate and proptech, visit a16z.com/realestate.
This episode is the first in a two-part series that examines the pandemic’s impact on real estate. Part 1 focuses on prospective home buyers, sellers, and existing homeowners. Part 2 (streaming on 6/17) addresses renters and landlords.How has social distancing shaken up the market to buy? What’s the ripple effect of eviction freezes and a record number of homes in forbearance? And how can tech streamline the inefficient process of renting, buying, and selling a home?Led by host Lauren Murrow, the conversation features a16z general partner Alex Rampell, who has invested in a number of real estate companies; Malloy Evans, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and single-family chief credit officer;  and Tushar Garg, CEO of Flyhomes, a company that helps buyers in competitive markets by purchasing their desired house in cash, then selling it to that buyer at the same price.The discussion starts with the impact on home prices and volume, as well as the rumored exodus from densely populated cities. Then we shift to focus on existing homeowners. Finally, we talk about ways tech can improve the system, from hard tech to fintech.For more a16z content on real estate and proptech, visit a16z.com/realestate.
Proteins are molecular machines that must first assemble themselves to function. But how does a protein, which is produced as a linear string of amino acids, assume the complex three-dimensional structure needed to carry out its job? That's where Folding at Home comes in. Folding at Home is a sophisticated computer program that simulates the way atoms push and pull on each other, applied to the problem of protein dynamics, aka "folding". These simulations help researchers understand protein function and to design drugs and antibodies to target them. Folding at Home is currently studying key proteins from the virus that causes COVID-19 to help therapeutic development. Given the extreme complexity of these simulations, they require an astronomical amount of compute power. Folding at Hold solves this problem with a distributed computing framework: it breaks up the calculations in the smaller pieces that can be run on independent computers. Users of Folding at Home - millions of them today - donate the spare compute power on their PCs to help run these simulations. This aggregate compute power represents the largest super computer in the world: currently 2.4 exaFLOPS!Folding at Home was launched 20 years ago this summer in the lab of Vijay Pande at Stanford. In this episode, Vijay (now a general partner at a16z) is joined by his former student and current director of Folding at Home, Greg Bowman, an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and Lauren Richardson. We discuss the origins of the Folding at Home project along with its connection to SETI@Home and Napster; also the scientific and technical advances needed to solve the complex protein folding and distributed computing problems; and importantly what does understanding protein dynamics actually achieve? 
The way we deliver healthcare has changed enormously over the last century, shifting from house calls by doctors to your own to institutionalized settings like hospitals and clinics. But now that trend has started to shift again, as some of the care we get in the hospitals and clinics has been "unbundled" back towards home settings for chronically ill patients or seniors. And now, of course, the impact of COVID-19 has created a huge sudden demand for home-based care, as all of us try to figure out how to manage certain healthcare needs at home.So, is home-based healthcare better? And what do we truly need to deliver the best care to patients, in their own homes? What do we gain and lose in different care delivery settings, and what shifts of mindset and new logistical processes do we need now, to best accomplish unbundling healthcare into the home? In this conversation, Vijay Kedar, CEO and cofounder of Tomorrow Health, a tech platform that delivers the products and services needed for home-based care; Sachin Jain, physician, previous CEO of Caremore and Aspire Health; part of the founding team at CMMI, the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, now incoming CEO of The Scan Group and Healthplan; and a16z General Partner Julie Yoo join a16z's Hanne Tidnam in conversation to talk about where we are today and where we are going in home-based healthcare.
Primary care was meant to be the front door to the healthcare system, but in some ways never set up for success to begin with. We need a new operating system for primary care—one with a different, deeper understanding of the patient, the context of their world around them, and the processes we have in place to figure out who sees a doctor and when, to use the system most efficiently.In this episode of the a16z Podcast, we talk about what the primary care of the future should actually look like; what kind of data about patients we should be collecting, from where, and to tell us what; how you ask the right questions of that data, to use the resources of our  healthcare system most efficiently and for the best care; and what the PCP of the future might look like. Joining us for the conversation are General Partner Julie Yoo, physician entrepreneur Ivor Horn, a primary care pediatrician for more than 20 years, and Jeff Kaditz, CEO and founder of Q.bio, a platform that identifies and monitors each individual’s biggest health risks. 
 We cover the tricky but important topic of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The 1996 law has been in the headlines a lot recently, in the context of Twitter, the president’s tweets, and an executive order put out by the White House on “preventing online censorship”. All of this is playing out against the broader, more profound cultural context and events around the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and beyond, and ongoing old-new debates around content moderation on social media. [Please note this episode was first published  May 31.] To make sense of only the technology and policy aspects of Section 230 specifically — and where the First Amendment, content moderation, and more come in — a16z host Sonal Chokshi brings on our first-ever outside guest for 16 Minutes, Mike Masnick, founder of the digital-native policy think tank Copia Institute and editor of the longtime news & analysis site Techdirt.com (which also features an online symposium for experts discussing difficult policy topics). Masnick has written extensively about these topics — not just recently but for years — along with others in media recently attempting to explain what’s going on and dissect what the executive order purports to do (some are even tracking different versions as well).So what’s hype/ what’s real — given this show’s throughline! — around what CDA 230 precisely does and doesn’t do, the role of agencies like the FCC, and more? What are the nuances and exceptions, and how do we tease apart the most common (yet incorrect) rhetorical arguments such as “platform vs. publisher”, “like a utility/ phone company”, “public forum/square” and so on? Finally: how does and doesn’t Section 230 connect to the First Amendment when it comes to companies vs. governments; what does “good faith” really mean and what are possible paths and ways forward among the divisive debates around content moderation? All this and more in this extra-long explainer episode of 16 Minutes, shared here for longtime listeners of the a16z Podcast. image: presidential tweet activity/ Wikimedia Commons
Given recent events around George Floyd and far beyond, this special episode of the a16z Podcast features Shaka Senghor, a leading advocate for criminal justice reform (and bestselling author), and Terry Brown, a former police officer in East Palo Alto (who has since run his own security firms) -- who, incidentally, both grew up in Detroit but ended up on different sides of the law -- in conversation with a16z co-founder Ben Horowitz.The conversation goes deep and on the ground (please note that the discussion also includes details of violence, in case you have young children listening). 
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Comments (16)

Kevin Schreder

With everything going on in the markets today, I would be interested in understanding how a cryptocurrency, driven by a private entity or open source, could influence the public markets, interest rates, and the dispersion of money. Depending on the economic ups and downs, wouldn't there need to be a governing entity, such as the federal reserve?

Apr 25th
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Al Yaz

a very powerful and thought provoking episode. thank you. Buy American.

Feb 19th
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Sara Jackson

This was a great episode! A lot of fun history to learn about.

Oct 20th
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AJF Nonprofit Podcast

That's why we in America need Yang2020.com.

Jun 16th
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Connie Kwan

very informative. one of the best episodes!

May 30th
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CJ

They really need to check out Castbox, we are working on a lot of the features they talked about, and some of the features are even available in other regions already. There will be lots of new monetization opportunities on Castbox for creators, keep an eye out in the near future!

Apr 7th
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Cliffy B.

Even tho i had to slow down all the SPEED TAlKING this was enjoyable. Peeps be waaayyy Vata

Apr 4th
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Luke H

A lot.of this does not reflect UK market

Mar 23rd
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Pieter Haegeman

Let your guests speak and your audience make connections for themselves. The interviewers incessant hmms and rights are just distracting from the quality of your guests. Please think about the difference between showing your guests youre listening in the moment and letting your listeners still be able to experience the conversation for themselves.

Mar 17th
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CJ

Really wish I could hear more from the CEO of Activision, he has some great stories!

Feb 22nd
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Michael Bergman

Great podcast, please don't interrupt the subject so much next time.

Dec 26th
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Marcin K

this is actually a really interesting talk...

Sep 18th
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Melanie Matsuo

why are there only men in this interview? are there no women that have an opinion on hiring a vp of product???

Jul 13th
Reply (1)

Indrajit Rajtilak

- Idea meritocracy and believability weighted decision making - mission first people second - everything has precedent, understanding differences is important for good decision making - having 15 low correlated investments is great investing strategy - being early and being wrong are the same thing - ego barrier and blindspot - teacher vs peer vs student - Shaper : visualization to actualization - Simultaneous open mindedness and assertiveness - Open mindedness: having opinions but knowing that you might be wrong, and testing it

Apr 27th
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