See part one of our coverage here.
Andreessen highly recommended three books to the audience. The first is The Innovator’s Dilemma, which many in Silicon Valley recommend. The others were more surprising: Technological Revolutions by Carlota Perez and Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things, which just hit the shelves.
He noted that his relationship with Horowitz is similar to a marriage, and provided the analogy of the old couple on a park bench who sit at opposite ends but nonetheless sit together. He said that “they had been working together for so long” and that they “understand each other and know when to defer to each other and when to trust each other.” He added that “they argue about everything and constantly argue because they come from different points of view.” He acknowledged that Horowitz was a better operator.
He did answer a question about Carl Icahn’s attacks about him being on the board of Ebay. He quipped that he thought Ichan would be introducing him today, and that the fact that there is activist activity in the tech space indicates that tech is not close to being in a bubble stage. He said this was especially true for older companies as they generally have very high cash balances and low multiples.
Andreessen said he spends most of his Mondays in partner meetings and that it’s a very good sign for entrepreneurs to be invited to the Monday meeting. He also said that it’s best for startups to pitch early in the day rather than late and that the partners will typically meet with 3-5 startups each Monday. He said A16Z is run very methodically and that they have a pipeline report and run the deal process through a salesforce pipeline. He added that A16Z comprehensively tracks companies in their portfolio and companies they are sourcing.
He said he hated copycat startups and startups that are variations of successful startups. He noted the flappybird clones and the snapchats for dogs.
Andreessen finished the talk by answering two questions. The first question was around journalism, and he noted that his interest in journalism was less from an investment point of view as A16Z doesn’t really invest in content and media production. But he thinks news journalism is very important and believes that newer entrants to the field will be able to make the business sustainable again. He noted that another reason he cares about journalism is because he is an avid reader.
The second question he answered was what areas of the tech industry he found exciting. He said there were three areas with great potential: healthcare, education and financial services. He noted that early on the plan for A16Z was to do “no rocketships, no space elevators, no drugs, and no biotech and healthcare.” It is interesting to note that all three of those spaces are heavily regulated.
Throughout the discussion, Andreessen displayed a deep appreciation for history. He cited tech pioneers such as Thomas Watson, David Packard, Ross Perot and Tom Perkins. He quickly captured the zeitgeist of the late 1990s during the tech bubble. He also provided a broad overview of journalism’s history.
Andreessen was interviewed by Andre De Haes, an MBA2 at the Business School and who will be a venture capitalist working at Index Ventures after graduating in June. He’s included in our list of Stanford students who are VCs.
This post was originally published on thedishdaily.com before it was acquired by The Stanford Daily in summer 2014.