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Saturday, May 15, 2021

The new media mogul: Andreessen Horowitz

The new media mogul: Andreessen Horowitz

One of Silicon Valley's most formidable venture capital firms, Andreessen Horowitz (Netscape, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Skype, to name a few) is doubling down on content, putting some tech media outlets on edge.

Some claim that “Andreessen Horowitz isn't interested in traditional journalism, but, in an era where content and reach is power, it wants to exert more influence over how people think about tech and business issues.”

They are wrong. Andreessen Horowitz Interested in NEW journalism, the future of how people generate and consume news.

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z for short) isn't new to content. Some of its partners are veteran bloggers and authors. For years, it's hosted podcasts and produced live events. And its investments have included Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest and Substack.

The firm also has employed a former Wired editor for the past six years, and has become an omnipresent force on new social chat app Clubhouse (in which it's the largest outside investor).

Driving the news
A16z, a multi-billion dollar firm that invests across industries, announced in January that it's building a new and separate media property. "We want to be the go-to place for understanding and building the future, for anyone who is building, making, or curious about tech," it said in a blog post.

Some tech journalists were immediately skeptical, particularly as a16z has gone from being the Valley's most press-friendly VC shop to becoming much more circumspect.

It also came against a backdrop of several tech execs publicly pushing back against mainstream media publications, believing they've become interchangeable groupthink that focuses primarily on negative narratives.

Some of those tech executives feel it's best to ignore interview requests, and instead share thoughts directly via personal or company media channels.

Andreessen Horowitz has been accused of seeking to disintermediate the press, either as punishment for unflattering coverage or as an effort to shape future coverage.

A source familiar with Andreessen Horowitz's thinking says the aim of its content effort is to supplement rather than supplant — to elevate innovation and leave the exposés to others.

Venture capital firms have long used content marketing as a tool to accrue talent and entice entrepreneurs. It's not uncommon to hear founders reference a16z blogs or research in pitch meetings. The main difference here is that a16z is making content more central to its strategy.

And what about CNN?
Well, it is for sale. And it’s a strategic name for the portfolio. But CNN belong to the past, while Andreessen Horowitz building the future. TikTok has more influence than CNN.

In other words: CNN is the problem Andreessen Horowitz is trying to fix, not to adopt. 


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