Feb 13, 2021 - Economy

The new media mogul: Andreessen Horowitz

Photo illustration of Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen on a background of money

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Kimberly White (Stringer), Brad Barket (Stringer)/Getty Images

One of Silicon Valley's most formidable venture capital firms is doubling down on content, putting some tech media outlets on edge.

Why it matters: 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.

Catch up quick: 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.
  • In short: 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.

The big picture: 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.

Go deeper: Media's deepening trust crisis

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