16 Minutes on the News is a short news podcast where we cover the top headlines of the week, the a16z podcast way -- why are these topics in the news; what's real, what's hype from our vantage point; and what are our experts' quick takes on these trends?
About 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 -- and now shows -- are released every week; visit a16z.com for more details and to sign up for our newsletters and other content as well!
FinCEN Crypto Rule; Haven Healthcare Breakup
We're covering two trends in this week’s episode of "16 Minutes," where we talk about the news, tech trends, and the long arc of innovation:
#1 FinCEN, the Treasury Department's financial crimes enforcement arm, proposed a new rule targeting cryptocurrency holders’ ability to transact using self-hosted wallets. These are software applications for storing crypto that allow people to transact on the blockchain directly, rather than going through financial institutions. The rule would require banks and other financial businesses to keep records, and verify the identities not only of their customers but also — notably — their customers’ counterparties, or people with whom the customer transacts, in certain cases. (Full disclosure: a16z has publicly opposed this plan, and has said it plans to join others in the industry in challenging the rule in court. You can read more about our position here.) a16z General Partner Katie Haun and Operating Partner Anthony Albanese explain the rule and what impact it could have on crypto innovation.
#2 Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase shut down their joint healthcare venture. Haven was touted as a potential game-changer for employee-funded health care plans and health costs in general, due to the combined resources of its three corporate sponsors, but it was disbanded after three years. We turn to a16z bio General Partner Julie Yoo for a quick check-in on what opportunities this project actually highlighted (including for startups). — with Zoran Basich
U.S. Government Hacked; Scaling Ethereum
with Joel de la Garza @smc90 @ali01 @zoranbasich
This week, we cover (1) the news that broke very recently about how hackers spied on U.S. Treasury emails and other federal agencies; and (2) that the first of several planned upgrades to Ethereum 2.0 recently went live and why it matters for scaling, security, and applications like DeFi and more.
AlphaFold! Protein Folding, Beyond the Hype
with @vijaypande @smc90
We cover the news around Google DeepMind's AlphaFold system outperforming all others in the 14th biennial CASP challenge, which tracks progress, key metrics, and state-of-the-art on predictive techniques for 3-D protein folding. Structure is function in biology, and this is one of the grand challenges in biology. So is it really solved? Will it really revolutionize drug discovery? What's hype/ what's real when it comes to the buzz here; what are other applications; and what are the implications for open science, scientists, big companies, startups?
Transparency in Pricing, Ruling Healthcare
with @julesyoo @justin_larkinMD @smc90
The U.S. government issued the latest in a series of “historic" rules for healthcare a few weeks ago, and these two rules are intended to increase price transparency in what's been described as a "shadowy system where prices are hidden". We discuss the specifics and impact of these rules on both consumers and on various industry players. What's the gap between mandate and implementation; and where are the challenges... and opportunities?
Apple Silicon: A Long Game, Changing the Game
with @stevesi @smc90
Apple recently announced the first new lineups of devices based on Apple Silicon M1 chips, which officially came out today. And since there’s already plenty of analysis on performance, benchmarks, and more, we cover the big picture: Apple’s moving away from Intel chips, and to their own chips (that run on the Arm instruction set); what does it all mean? Where we are on the long arc of innovation, both backwards and forwards -- and what are implications for consumers, developers, and the industry as a whole?
Covid Vaccine! Beyond Science via Press Release
with @vintweeta @jorgecondebio @smc90
A vaccine for COVID seems to be (almost) here... or is it? What's hype/ what's real beyond the headlines (and beyond the press release), when it comes to Pfizer and BioNTech's announcement that their vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19. How much should/ shouldn't we read into this news? We break it all down: the math, the science, and the practical considerations.