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!
How 'Hyperscalers' are Innovating — and Competing — in the Data Center
Innovation in the data center has been constrained by the traditional model of suppliers providing fixed-function chips that limit how much the biggest data center operators can differentiate. But programmable chips have emerged that allow these companies to not only increase performance, but innovate throughout the pipeline, from operating system to networking interface to user application.
This is a major trend among hyperscalers, which are some of the world’s most well known companies running massive data centers with tens of thousands of servers. We’re talking about companies like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Alibaba, Tencent.
To talk about the trends in data centers and how software may be “eating the world of the data center,” we talked this summer to two experts. Martin Casado is an a16z general partner focused on enterprise investing. Before that he was a pioneer in the software-defined networking movement and the cofounder of Nicira, which was acquired by VMWare.
He’s joined by Nick McKeown, a Stanford professor of computer science who has founded multiple companies (and was Martin’s cofounder at Nicira) and has worked with hyperscalers to innovate within their data centers. After this podcast was recorded, Nick was appointed Senior Vice President and General Manager of a new Intel organization, the Network and Edge Group.
Kickstarting Network Effects
Network effects can be found powering almost every major technology company, from messaging apps and workplace collaboration tools, like Slack and Zoom, to marketplaces, like Airbnb and Instacart to even the internet itself. In this podcast, we look at the role of network effects creator-driven social platforms, with Alexis Ohanian, cofounder from Reddit, Paul Davison, cofounder from Clubhouse, and a16z general partner Andrew Chen, whose new book, "The Cold Start Problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects" comes out this week (see coldstart.com for more). We cover: how do you cold start and get your first creators? How does your relationship to creators change as you scale? And how is web3 changing the incentives and dynamics around network effects?
with @jessewldn @ljxie @smc90
Everything you need or want to know about NFTs (or to help others understand NFTs.) Cuts through the noise to share the signal:
covering what NFTs are, the underlying crypto big picture, and then specifically what forms they take; addressing common myths and misconceptions from “just a JPG” to the question of energy use; sharing briefly how NFTs work; providing a quick overview of the players/ ecosystem; and throughout, discussing various applications too.
This episode was originally released in March 2021.
Play-to-Earn Gaming and How Work is Evolving in Web3
In today's episode we’re talking about an emerging model of gaming called play to earn, in which players can make actual money based on how much time and effort they put into a game. Play to earn is also part of broader trends — the changing relationship between players and platforms, new incentives for participants in blockchain-based networks, and the new internet era that is coming to be known as a web3.
The top play-to-earn game is called Axie Infinity, operated by a Vietnam-based company called Sky Mavis. Players of the game acquire unique digital pets called Axies, and battle other teams of Axies. These NFT Axies can be created and sold using the game’s in-game currency, SLP, which can be traded for traditional currency.
Think of it as Pokemon on the blockchain, with a social network built-in, and an actual economy, and even companies built around the game that help players onboard and loan them money to get started playing. The game has made more than $3 billion in total sales since launching in March 2018, with much of its early growth in the Philippines.
(As a reminder, none of the following should be taken as investment advice, please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information.)
Our guests today are Jeff Zirlin, the cofounder of Sky Mavis; Gabby Dizon, the cofounder of Yield Guild Games, a play to earn gaming guild that gives players the resources to start playing; and a16z crypto general partner Arianna Simpson.
They talk to a16z's Zoran Basich about the tech trends that enabled the emergence of play to earn, why and where it caught on first, and the role of community, as well as the challenges, which include onboarding and scalability, and the economic sustainability of this model. The panel also discusses what the play-to-earn movement say about the future of work.
On container ships, supply chains, and the physical world
@smc90 reads out loud @typesfast essay on container ships, supply chains, standardization, and a software layer over the physical world
Crypto Security and the New Web3 Mindsets for Users
Today’s episode is all about crypto security — that is, the new mindsets and the new strategies for storing crypto assets safely while also allowing holders control and access.
As a reminder, none of the following should be taken as investment advice, please see a16z.com/disclosures for more important information.
We’ve covered security trends more broadly a ton in our content, which you can find at a16z.com/security, as well as crypto-related trends including NFTs, and the creator and ownership economies; you can find all of that at a16z.com/nfts
But as more people enter crypto lately — thanks to the boom in NFTs, decentralized finance, and much more — we share specific best practices and options for securing crypto as well as discussing how it all fits this next evolution of the internet: web3.
Our expert today is a16z crypto data scientist Eddy Lazzarin, who joins host Zoran Basich to cover practical approaches ranging from passwords to crypto wallets and what users can do; the evolution of crypto briefly; and the big picture mindset shifts involved here as well.
We quickly begin with the practical shift crypto security represents compared to how people interact with traditional financial institutions, and then we go into the big picture trends in security when it comes to abstraction and usability.