July 24, 2021
Image: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Protocol
Hello and welcome to Pipeline. This week: Founders are throwing "startup showers," VCs are getting agents and every company is an AI company.
Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz may be the people with their names on the door at a16z, but the two represent less than 1% of the staff of the ever-expanding firm.
Andreessen Horowitz has been on a hiring tear, bringing on folks like Intel's former CEO Bob Swan. "New rule: only share a personal update if you are NOT joining a16z as a general partner," tweeted Databricks' Nadim Hossain.
The a16z shtick has always been about more than investing. The firm started in 2009 with half a dozen folks, but part of its vision has always been to grow and scale. It staffed up quickly to provide value beyond just money.
The confusing part? There are a lot of "partners" at a16z, but they're not capital-P "Partners" in the way most firms use the term. So it may look like a16z is bringing on the equivalent of Benchmark every few months, but you have to dig deeper into the new hires' exact roles.
It's also outgrown Sand Hill Road. With Haber's hire in New York and some new San Francisco digs, the firm is expanding past Silicon Valley. It has job listings open for associate partners for its go-to-market enterprise team in New York and bio vertical lead for its capital network in San Francisco.
As Wollit founder Liad Shababo pointed out, between the hiring spree and the funding rounds, a16z is now everywhere: "If over the past few days you haven't been named a general partner at a16z or raised money from them — are you really in tech?
Singapore is fast becoming a global hotbed of tech innovation. It's easy to see why. Nearly 80 of the world's top 100 tech firms have set up outposts there, including Google, Facebook, Stripe, Salesforce and homegrown unicorns like the super-app Grab.
The former Sequoia partner left Silicon Valley in 2012 to return to the Midwest and invest in startups outside of the coasts. He co-founded Drive Capital, which counts Duolingo, Greenlight and Root Insurance in its portfolio.
What's been the main difference in investing in Midwest companies vs. Silicon Valley?
Entrepreneurs here are in closer proximity to customers. They tend to really understand customer pain points more quickly which allows them to apply new technologies to their customer problems as opposed to just being a technology in search of a future application.
What problem do you want to see a startup solve?
Carbon capture. Humans are at a scale today where we have a larger impact on our climate than nature itself. If we don't use our ability to steer the climate in a different direction, then I really worry we're creating our own demise.
What book do you think every startup founder should read?
"Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United." It's the biography of Alex Ferguson and it was written by Mike Moritz. This book taught me what it means to be truly "world class."
What's one of the worst predictions you've ever made?
Level 5 autonomous vehicles would be available to purchase by 2020. Can confirm I still drive myself to the office.
Who are three people on your "personal board of directors?"
My wife, my wife and my wife; and no, I am not remarried.
I'm a big subscriber to the Charlie Munger philosophy — that the most important choice you make in life is who you marry. My wife Gina knows my blindspots, is (very) comfortable pointing them out, and I am grateful for her perspective on a daily basis.
Business leaders say they choose Singapore for its modern tech infrastructure, strong government support, robust pipeline of talent and pro-business regulations (the World Bank ranks it No. 2 in the world for ease of doing business). Plus, its location in the heart of Southeast Asia serves as a launchpad into the bustling Asian-Pacific market.