Benedict Evans

VC at Andreessen Horowitz

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 14, 2015

Discussion

Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
Hi, I’m Benedict Evans. I’ve been trying to understand mobile and startups for 15 years in various ways, and 18 months ago I moved to San Francisco to do it for a16z. Ask me anything.
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@benedictevans now that you've been at a16z for a while, what has surprised you most about the way the partnership functions? How has your role there evolved over time and would you ever want to be an investing partner at a VC fund?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@hunterwalk When you go to a totally new job and new type of company you kind of expect to be surprised. You learn about the internal mechanics of the space (hence, conflict, board seats, how different rounds work) and so on, and its all new. For me it was all part of moving to SF, which comes with a much larger set of... surprises
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@benedictevans Would I be an investing partner? Maybe. It wouldn't be there since there's no path to partner (as I'm not a founder). But right now I'm busy trying to get completely on top of the current role.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hi, Benedict! You've quickly solidified yourself as an influential, data-driven voice in tech, specifically on mobile. Everyone talks about the influence and potential of Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and other U.S.-based companies but which relatively under-the-radar international startups would have the greatest potential to become an venerable unicorn and why?
Ouriel Ohayon@ourielohayon · CodenameDjango, CEO/ isai (VC)
@benedictevans Hi Benedict (long time). How do you organize your day and in particular your access to information on a daily basis? What are the sources or tools your use most?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@ourielohayon I try to read everything all the time. Mostly twitter is my aggregator, but there are lots of other places to track
Ouriel Ohayon@ourielohayon · CodenameDjango, CEO/ isai (VC)
@benedictevans what are you top 3 must follow twitter accounts?
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Stealing this question from Mazzeo: With the qualifier that you guys agree on many/most things, what's a prediction that Marc Andreessen and/or Chris Dixon and/or Ben Horowitz have for the future that you vehemently disagree with and why?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@eriktorenberg Venture is all about what might happen, not what will.
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@benedictevans Thanks for doing this. Are Netflix and Amazon gravitating towards replicating traditional film & TV studio models and thus setting themselves up for disruption? Who is going to capture the premium content mobile user, and how?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@paulrobertcary That's a blog post, not a question ;)
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@benedictevans Great! Can you write one this week and tag me please? 🙏
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
@benedictevans Thanks for taking the time! What is the most fascinating trend you've seen come and go very rapidly? Do you think these kinds of things represent innovations before their time or simply driven by marketing/hype?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@jsneedles It's always interesting when cool things don't work. The way QR Codes are a really useful part of everyday life in east Asia and just die every time here is a great example. Maybe beacons will solve that, though.
@benedictevans What does a normal working day at a16z look like for you?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@jbykk driving down the 280, staring at traffic and swearing at the other drivers.
Michael Babich@michaelbabich · Entrepreneur, hacker, and traveler.
@benedictevans Great time for emotional podcasting.
Abhinav Chhikara@abnux · UI/UX Designer, Founder, Author
What are your thoughts on apps designed as chat bot based assistants (Pana, Luka.ai, Lark Health, Facebook M etc.)? Does the ubiquity of text messaging + personalisation of app experiences through intelligent chat bots excite you?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@abnux it's tough to have a domain narrow enough for the 'AI' to work but broad enough to be useful. And there's an uncanny valley. There will be a company that makes this work, though
Quang HOANG@qhoang09 · CEO @ Birdly
@benedictevans Hi Benedict, what do you think of the "invisible apps" ? Are we seing signs of the next big thing after mobile applications : Magic, many bots on Slack, facebook investing in AI ... ?
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Here's a collection of a few dozen recently launched "invisible apps" for reference: http://www.producthunt.com/@rrho...
Abhinav Chhikara@abnux · UI/UX Designer, Founder, Author
@rrhoover Would be interesting to see how 'invisible apps' or chat based apps play out with the next 1B people coming online, especially from developing countries where chat usage is off the charts.
Michael Cho@michael_cho · Cofounder, YAM
@rrhoover awesome list! tks for sharing!
Chris Schroeder@cmschroed · investor
Benedict: you have shared some of the most concise and provocative data I've seen on the worlds we are in, and thank you for this. I wondered in all that you've seen, what trends have surprised you most -- been most unobvious to you. Mobile is a place I know you've particularly focused on -- so there, or beyond?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@cmschroed It was unobvious to me that there as an opportunity to do something as discontinuous as the first iPhone (though I did immediately think it would change the world). But the industry moves so fast there are always things you didn't see coming. Generally you only understand things once they've already happened. You can see the big trends but it's the details that get you, and the details are where the money is.
Dorin Lukian@dorinlukian · CEO, Happytrip.com
@benedictevans Can you name 3 most important things in a startup pitch? , also does it matter if the startup is in Eastern Europe
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@dorinlukian Venture is a local business. We have made investments outside the USA but they're the exception. The pitch has to say what you're building, why it's a good idea and why you're the people to do it.
Shane Leonard, CFA@shaneleonard121 · CEO @Stockflare
@benedictevans loved the post on "Search v Discovery" http://ben-evans.com/benedicteva... . Do you think "Discovery" is the main secret to @ProductHunt? What other attributes make it successful? Looking at their new "streams" books & games, do you think they can replicate the success there? Or are the communities there too different?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@shaneleonard121 absolutely. But there are lots of discovery models, just as in physical retail.
Shane Leonard, CFA@shaneleonard121 · CEO @Stockflare
@benedictevans sure and @rrhoover in his interview on LinkedIn points to the massive-expansion of tech products as being the reason he set up @ProductHunt. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/s... You highlight the inefficiency of the AppStores for discovery on mobile. Have you seen anyone who's doing "discovery" in the news arena well? What's the incentive to join one of these communities?
Mike Hince@zer0mike · Freelance UI Designer Founder Howler.co
@benedictevans Hey! Do you approach stand out startups or wait for them to come to you? 👍
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@zer0mike Both - we try to see everything, but that's not possible, and we try to make sure that entrepreneurs will reach out to us. We're a service business - people have to want to work with us, whoever makes the first contact,
Michael Cho@michael_cho · Cofounder, YAM
@benedictevans Is there any startup where you were like “what were they thinking!” when they first launched but subsequently become a true believer in their idea?
Jason Chan@jbchan
@benedictevans Have there been any surprise startups that you regret not investing in?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@jbchan I've not been doing this long enough yet
Gaurav Dahake@gauravdahake · Founder, CEO Buyhatke
@benedictevans What are your thoughts on app only strategies by leading commerce players like flipkart in countries like India ?
Danielle Newnham@daniellenewnham · Founder, The Junto Network. Author
Hi Benedict. You recently moved from UK to San Fran. What do you see as major differences between London and SV tech scenes? Any aspects you recommend one might learn from the other?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@daniellenewnham SF is the global cluster. There's lots of good stuff going on in London (/NYC/Boston/Berlin etc etc) but SF has more critical mass.
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@daniellenewnham Hi Danielle! A good example of a UK company that made the move is SwiftKey. Their blog is great: https://blog.swiftkey.com/
Erik S Wilson@erikswilson
@benedictevans great to be able to hear from you! For a pre-revenue app startup, what is your best advice to acquiring seed or series A funding? Vcs? Angels? Private groups?
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@erikswilson Angel/seed
Thê-Minh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯@the_minh · Product Guy
Hi Benedict, First of all, thanks for doing this live chat. What is your analysis on Apple discontinuing the iPhone c line? At a16z, what major trends do you currently identify in start-ups? What are the geographical trends? Cheers, Thê-Minh
Benedict Evans@benedictevans · a16z
@the_minh Apple has always discontinued the 3-year-old line. And it seems to think selling older models for less is the best way to address the mid-range, for now.