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!
NFTs: What, Where, How, Why, Who
with @ljxie @jessewldn @smc90
This deep-dive (one of our 3-4X explainer episodes here) teases apart what's hype/ what's real and the what, where, how, why, who -- answering questions top of mind around all things NFTs.
The U.S. Vaccine Rollout
Today on our news analysis show 16 Minutes — since this show is all about teasing apart what’s hype/ what’s real and where we are on the long arc of innovation — we're taking a quick pulse-check with the experts on just where we are with the COVID vaccine rollout in the U.S.
Our experts today are Dr. Bob Wachter, the Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF — he has come to additional prominence during the pandemic as a regular public resource, providing daily updates & reports on Twitter throughout the crisis. He’s also currently guest-hosting the “In the Bubble” podcast. We also have Dr. Vineeta Agarwala, a general partner in a16z bio who is also a practicing clinician at Stanford Hospital.
You can catch our ongoing coverage of all things vaccines at a16z.com/vaccines.
But in this episode we cover where we really are right now with the vaccine rollout — is it working or not, given all the buzz and mixed messages we’ve been hearing on social and in the media? We cover everything from distribution, in practice (that is, from the clinical/ on-the-ground perspective); to other dynamics (such as new strains), to demand for the vaccines (including vaccine hesitancy, and it's not just about anti-vaxxers); to the data (which is where we start). On Friday the CDC reported that about 77 million people in the U.S. have currently received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, with about 42 million who have been fully vaccinated.
The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and COVID Efficacy Rates
In today's episode of our news analysis show 16 Minutes, our topic is the ongoing buzz and the mixed news around the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was the third vaccine for COVID approved under Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA just a few weeks ago. Johnson & Johnson reported it as “the first single shot vaccine” and as having 85% efficacy in preventing severe disease across regions studied; meanwhile, STAT headlines reported 66% efficacy overall and 72% in the U.S. in preventing moderate to severe disease, calling it “a weapon but not a knockout punch.” And then we have various experts saying everything from “disappointing” to pointing out the dangers of comparing this vaccine to other vaccines such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, both of which we’ve talked about on this show. You can find all our ongoing vaccines coverage at a16z.com/vaccines.
In this episode — since 16 Minutes is about teasing apart what’s hype/ what’s real in the news and where we are on the long arc of innovation — we asked the a16z bio team for their frameworks.
Joining us are General Partner Jorge Conde, who has been in all our vaccine episodes and previously led strategy and product for a pharmaceuticals company, and bio editorial partner Lauren Richardson, who was previously an editor at PLOS Biology and hosts our sister show Journal Club on Bio Eats World. She also holds a Ph.D in pharmacology.
Semiconductor Shortage and the Global Supply Chain Squeeze
In this week’s episode of 16 Minutes, our show where we talk about tech trends in the news, what’s hype/ what’s real, and where we are on the long arc of innovation, the topic is semiconductors – specifically, the ongoing global shortage that began last summer and has intensified in recent weeks. So much so, that the U.S. president signed an executive order just last week to address concerns around the shortage, calling for reviews of supply chains for critical sectors of the economy.
Our expert is a16z Operating Partner Frank Chen, who led our research arm and has also joined past episodes about semiconductors on this show including one with Steven Sinofsky and Sonal in which they analyzed the ARM and Envidia news.
Frank joins a16z's Zoran Basich to cover the bigger picture of the chip shortage including geopolitics, the pandemic, and several other factors — all in almost exactly 16 minutes!
When Christie's Meets Crypto — The NFT Moment
In this week’s episode of 16 Minutes — where we talk about tech trends in the news, what’s hype/ what’s real, and where we are on the long arc of innovation — the topic is NFTs ("non-fungible tokens"); specifically, the news that Christie’s has become the first major auction house to offer a purely digital artwork tied to an NFT or “non-fungible token."
We’ll go more into NFTs (as well as whether this is really a big deal or not) in this episode, but here’s the news context:
The work of art being auctioned is a digital collage by the digital artist Beeple; it’s called Everydays: The First 5,000 Days.
The Christie’s auction begins today and runs through March 11.
It's news because Christie's, a 250-year-old auction house, is an established presence in the traditional art marketplace, and it’s the first time NFTs (which have been much-buzzed-about in the crypto world for several months) are being formally embraced by the traditional art world.
For quick context, NFTs are digital tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, which allow art and other digital assets and collectibles to be verified as unique, hence the term non-fungible (as compared to other, more fungible tokens). They reflect the properties of crypto and blockchains more broadly, such as the ability to track provenance and attribute funds to creators via smart contracts. (For more discussion of NFTs and related themes, check out our previous podcasts Crypto for Creators: From Art Galleries to 'Tokenized' Collectibles and The New Fan Club: Creators, Fans, and the Power of Markets (& Crypto).
Zoran Basich of a16z talked to NFT expert Kayvon Tehranian, CEO and founder of Foundation Labs, a marketplace for digital art and collectibles, to help us dig into the Christie's news and broader trend — all in less than 16 Minutes!
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China Steams Ahead in Gaming; MetaHuman Creator and the Uncanny Valley
We have two brief segments — taking up less than 16 Minutes! — in this week’s episode of "16 Minutes," where we talk about tech trends in the news, what’s hype/what’s real, and where we are on the long arc of innovation. Both segments touch on trends in gaming/ online worlds and entertainment — both now and "next."
First, Steam China: Steam — the cloud library and marketplace for buying, selling, and storing games that was launched by Valve in 2003 and is now the largest distribution platform for PC gaming — just released an official Chinese version.
Next, Meta Human Creator: Epic Games’ 3D graphics platform Unreal Engine revealed an early peek at a new content creation tool that aims to make creating digital humans easier.
So what does this all mean? We talked to a16z partner Jonathan Lai, a former product manager at Riot Games, who joins 16 Minutes co-host Zoran Basich for both segments to share a quick take on these news items and the trends overall.