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Episodes with Smash Notes

with @kristenfortney @laurademing @vijaypande @omnivorousread

This is the very first episode in our new show, Bio Eats World, a brand new podcast all about how biology is technology: Bio is breaking out of the lab and clinic and into our daily lives -- on the verge of revolutionizing our world in ways we are only just beginning to imagine. In this first episode, we talk all about the science of aging.

Be sure to subscribe (and rate if you like) this show, and to learn more about the expanding a16z Podcast network, please go to a16z.com/podnetwork

with @eugenewei @smc90

TikTok's For You Page algorithm (which could yet be excluded from the deal given Chinese government recently revised export controls around source code) enabled it to grab massive marketshare in cultures and markets never experienced firsthand by the engineers and designers in China, beating out other dominant players in the United States. But well beyond the specifics and politics of this deal, what does its "algorithm friendly" product design tell us about “creativity network effects”, community, and the future of video?

Today’s episode, part two in our two-part series on the Creator Economy, focuses on the new potential revenue streams and fan-engagement models opened up by emerging decentralized technology. It's a new type of fan club, driven by crypto networks and aiming to give creators more power in the commercial sphere. Zoran Basich of a16z talked to two guests deeply immersed in these topics.

Kayvon Tehranian is the founder and CEO of Foundation Labs, a platform for buying and selling limited edition goods. Think of it as a crypto marketplace that creates new revenue streams for creators, and financial incentives for buyers. Before that he was head of product at cryptocurrencies marketplace Dharma Labs, and he has long worked on making crypto more accessible to the mainstream.

Jesse Walden is a former a16z partner who recently launched his own fund, Variant, which focuses on what he calls the ownership economy enabled by crypto. He also previously cofounded the startup Mediachain, which was acquired by Spotify, and is a former music promoter and manager whose focus was on helping artists stay independent.

Kayvon and Jesse explain how the emerging crypto models differ from previous attempts to create new revenue streams for artists, and about the role of speculation and hype in creator markets. They also debate whether these new markets will largely be driven by financial motives, or whether cultural factors will be equally powerful in determining the growth of creator markets. And they offer advice to creators interested in exploring this new world, including important practical guidance on expectations and timelines. 

This episode explores the process and economics behind creating an independent newsletter. In this candid conversation, host Lauren Murrow talks with four Substack writers—an artist, a technologist, a journalist, and a clinical researcher-turned-psychedelics scholar—about how to find and foster an audience, the calculus behind going paid versus unpaid, the pressure to produce, and financial benchmarks for making a living from newsletter writing.

Since Netflix started in the late 90s as a DVD-by-mail rental service competing with Blockbuster, it has completely reinvented itself... twice – first, when it went from DVD rental to video streaming platform, and then again when it went from licensing to producing original content.

But what does it takes to create an organization capable of reinventing itself? Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings explains...

with @guyraz @smc90

For better or for worse, we tell the story of entrepreneurs as one of the mythical hero's journey: that's there's a call, a test, a destination... But are we indulging in hero worship or failure porn? Where does and doesn't optimism come in for building? Storytelling IS business -- whether it's a company or a community or a product or a movement -- and is not just about the stories we tell others but the ones we tell ourselves.

with @pmarca @zoink

A wide-ranging Q&A all about education, from the purpose, past, and present of education; the economics of education (student loans & the debt crisis, government funding, cost disease, accreditation capture); tradeoffs of "hard" and "soft" degrees; and whether or not to drop out and go straight to field or startup. What's the best advice for students and others contemplating change in their careers... how do you get noticed?

This episode examines the potential for misuse and fraud among those applying for coronavirus relief—and how fintech and software provide overlooked tools to stop it. 

Host Lauren Murrow is joined by Bharat Ramamurti, the original member of the COVID-19 Congressional Oversight Commission, which is tasked with evaluating the impact of coronavirus relief loans; Naftali Harris, the CEO of SentiLink, a software company that builds technology to detect synthetic fraud; and a16z fintech general partner Alex Rampell.

We know community is important -- whether for developer relations for your platform or just other types of communities -- but how do we measure the success of community initiatives and even artifacts (like events or schwag)? How do we know we're even measuring the right things? And when it comes to developer relations specifically, where should devrel sit in an organization (product, sales, engineering)? Who should you hire first? And how do you reconcile developer as customer vs. developer as community member?

with @pwang @martin_casado

AI/ML development is like reining in the natural world, more like physics and even metaphysics, where data and models are fluid. But this not just a philosophical observation; it has real implications for the margins, organizational structures, and building of such businesses. Especially as we’re in a tricky time of transition, where customers don’t even know what they’re asking for, yet are looking for AI/ML help or know it’s the future. So what does this all mean for the software value chain; for open source collaboration and commodification; for a new type of AI/ML company; and for the future of software businesses?

This episode is all about education and technology, a topic that’s especially top of mind this week as students in much of the country return to school—virtually. The intersection of learning and technology has been accelerated by the pandemic, but the debate around education's "disruption," and what that means for educators doing the hands-on work of teaching, has been swirling for years.

In this episode, a16z general partner Connie Chan and host Lauren Murrow are joined by educators and experts Josh Kim, the Director of Online Programs and Strategy at Dartmouth College, and David Deming, Professor of Education and Economics at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

with @rvenkayya @jorgecondebio

WHEN are we going to have a COVID-19 vaccine, and how the heck are we going from 12 years of vaccine development compressed into 12 months or so? What will and won’t be compromised here, and where do new technologies (like mRNA) come in? Where will vaccines likely be distributed first; who will and won't get them initially; how do we maintain not just safety and efficacy of vaccines but trust and transparency when it comes to mis/information? We may actually see the emergence of a "Neo Anti-Vaxxer"... but we may also be entering a renaissance for vaccinology after this pandemic.