Tech and Entertainment in the Era of Mass Customization | a16z Podcast with Marc Andreessen and Reed Hastings

 

At the recent first-ever summit event with Andreessen Horowitz held in Silicon Valley, founding partner Marc Andreessen talked to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings the future of tech and entertainment in an era of mass customization.

From a16z:

Imagine, for a moment, an alternative universe: One where Netflix got disrupted by some other streaming-content company that made its DVD rental business irrelevant. But that’s just a counterfactual of what could have happened. What actually happened is that Netflix cannibalized (or rather, “hybridized”) its own core business to make room for a more strategic one given where the tech was going…

Given how rare it is for companies to successfully disrupt themselves like this, Reed Hastings, CEO and co-founder of Netflix, shares how they did it in this episode of the a16z Podcast (based on a conversation with Marc Andreessen that took place at our inaugural summit event). But please don’t say “only the paranoid survive” — Hastings believes business leaders need more sophisticated metaphors “to anticipate the paths, and all the judgment it takes, of deciding which competitive path to most explore”. It also turns out that sourcing, managing, and supporting creative ideas and creators is not unlike the questions VCs ask themselves — like trying to figure out just how much experience entrepreneurs need (especially if first-timers, like the directors of “Stranger Things” were).

And finally, is there a “Netflix brand” or genre of content — and if so, just how far can you stretch it so the same brand can produce something like “Orange Is the New Black” one day and then “Fuller House” the next day? Or are we entering an “era of mass customization” where we only see content suited to our interests — dark and dystopian if that’s your thing, sunny and funny if not? How is the industry ecosystem evolving; where do telcos, Silicon Valley, Hollywood fit in? All this and more in this episode.

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Pricing Strategies for Startups

Andreesen Horowitz recently covered pricing strategies for startups in two podcasts.

Part 1 (above) with Mark Cranney, Martin Casado and Scott Kupor

How should startups go about raising prices — or more specifically, creating value— for their products?

Part 2 (below) with Mark Cranney, Martin Casado and Peter Levine

In Part 1, we learn how to price and plan early, price high – especially for category-creating or “pre-chasm” businesses.

What about freemium models? When does free end and paid begin? How does open source work and how does layering help?

 

Special thanks a16z

 

 

The Zero B.S. Method to Recruiting, Compensating and Including Your Sales Force

Our friends at Andreesen Horowitz (@a16z) featured 5 top longreads for 2015, including this three piece on the “Zero B.S. Method to Recruiting, Compensating and Including Your Sales Force” by a16z partner Lars Dalgaad.

Excerpt:

Together, these three pieces by Lars Dalgaard offer a data-driven view — whether it’s data from a W-2 or data from customers in the field — on hiring and motivating your sales force…

On how a spreadsheet (vs. descriptive attributes) cuts through the bullshit and leads to a more productiveinterview conversation:

All sales reps can cherry-pick and make their many deals sound very impressive, and you will not be able determine whether the person just got lucky a couple of years. Let the spreadsheet show vs. tell their average and median deal size. You will find it often paints a different picture than the one people highlighted on the outside.

On being careful to ask for just two things, not more, when aligning expected outcomes:

The CEO/leadership team needs to make up its mind about what it is they want most, whether it’s net new sales, bigger deal size, or deals with new products. This is very counterintuitive for many founders since it’s the opposite of the entrepreneurial mindset, where you believe everything is an AND not an OR.

On having a more inclusive — as opposed to a “coin-operated idiots” — mindset about sales:

…it relegates salespeople only to the field or to the phone, when they really should be considered part of the company leadership. Not this decapitated thing you “slot onto” your organization when you need to. Include sales in product management meetings, executive meetings, any meeting where the product roadmap is being discussed. It’s the only way to strike the balance between abstract vision and concrete truth.

Future of Media Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed; Lessons From the PC Video Game Industry

Featured as one of the top 5 longreads of 2015 by our friends at Andreesen Horowitz, partner Chris Dixon says (excerpt):

If “the future is already here, just not very evenly distributed” where, then, can we find it? History shows there are characteristic patterns, and one such clue to the future, argues Chris Dixon, is to

…look for communities that embrace rapid, Darwinian experimentation. Experiments are how we collectively navigate through the startup idea maze to discover products and business models that work. Even if you have no interest in video games, you should be interested in PC gaming. Over the past decade, PC gaming has, for a variety of reasons, become a hotbed of experimentation. These experiments have resulted in a new practices and business models  – some of them surprising and counterintuitive –  that provide valuable lessons for the rest of the media industry.

Read Chris Dixon’s full post on Medium.

Software Eats Sports

Our friends at Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, co-founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, caught our attention in their most recent newsletter with a section called “Software Eats…Sports.”

Five links were featured:

While the intersection of sports + technology covers a wide set of areas, it’s clear from the set of links that eSports (also sometimes referred to as gaming) is getting growing (massive) attention.

note: if you want to contribute an opinion piece or article on any aspect of the intersection of sports + technology…or if you are an entrepreneur, investor or mentor that wants to learn more about startups opportunities in the sports tech space, contact us at info@sportscolab.com.