Andreessen Horowitz wants to invest in the future, so the venture capital firm has launched its own standalone media property, Future, to tell you exactly what that is.
Its new media venture is taking the fundamentals of a corporate blog, but supersizing its ambitions to fold in outside voices and articles written by experts. What it's not doing is writing about tech news, picking favorite companies or hosting takedown articles about the industry, said Andreessen Horowitz's Margit Wennmachers. Instead, Future will have a defined voice of techno-optimism and, if all goes to plan, become a way to win deals by convincing founders to work with the firm.
"If you're a venture capital firm, you want to advance the future. And that's what this media entity is designed to do," Wennmachers said. "If we help accelerate the advancement of the future, and by reputation we are viewed by entrepreneurs as like, 'These people get me, I'd like to take their money,' then I think the community will be happy, the world with more tech will be happy and our [limited partners] will be happy."
Future will blend outside writers' voices and opinions with the content that a16z has already been producing. Wennmachers is adamant that it's not going to be just a corporate blog under a new domain name. Instead, she views it as a "radical departure" with much higher ambitions to become a media entity. There's a team of seven editors working to bring in outside writers to contribute, and other venture firms are welcome to join in the fray. It's launching with articles like Assassin's Creed co-creators' view on intellectual property in gaming and a paleobiologist's take on what you can learn about the future from the past.
"We will include outside voices because we don't have a monopoly on good ideas, and if you want to be credible, it can't just be a thing like, 'Here are our ideas,'" Wennmachers said. "That said, it's in a way a natural evolution of what we've been doing because we've been blogging about why we invest in so-and-so or why we think open-source business models should be thought about X or Y way."
Thought leadership is par for the course in the venture capital industry, but Andreessen Horowitz turned the occasional blog post into an entire media machine. The firm already produces an array of content, from its podcasts on crypto and "bio eating the world" to essays on startup building to Clubhouse audio shows hosted by partners like Wennmachers and Sriram Krishnan.
When the firm first announced in January that it planned to build out its own media entity — and called it "the go-to" place for entrepreneurs — many tech journalists were apprehensive about what it would look like and whether it would be direct competition.
It also hasn't helped that a16z's relationship with the media has shifted over time, as Eric Newcomer first detailed, to being wary of what Wennmachers views as an increasingly negative press. The firm prefers to "go direct," an increasingly common mantra in tech circles of publishing directly to an audience instead of speaking through the press. (A16z's stance on going direct made it all the more surprising when Marc Andreessen granted an interview to a satirist who degraded journalists and repeatedly used a slur against the developmentally disabled. Wennmachers told Protocol she disliked the questions, though she retweeted and liked approbatory tweets about the interview.)
"I was a little surprised by the upset because if you look at our current content, or if you think about the paleobiology example, I don't think the stuff that ends up on our properties is the stuff that you would see on Protocol or on The New York Times," Wennmachers said. "It's much more analysis, it's a take, it's much less like the takeoff of what's happening [that] day and who said what, and all of that. It may be spicy and controversial, but it's more about the ideas than the day's news."
The question now of Future is whether it is also the future of media. A16z's former in-house prognosticator, Benedict Evans, has long viewed the firm as a "media company that monetizes through venture capital." Future's content is not supposed to feel like it's marketing, but Wennmachers oversees both functions at the firm. It is supposed to influence how people are thinking about the future in a specific way, and as a result, also shape how they view Andreessen Horowitz.
"We have a business to run, and we're in the business of investing in the future and providing returns for LPs," Wennmachers said. "So as much as I can help advance the future and the narrative of the pro case for the future … that's what I'm trying to do. That is the goal."