Chris Dixon

The decline of the mobile web

Chris Dixon

People are spending more time on mobile vs desktop: And more of their mobile time using apps, not the web: This is a worrisome trend for the web. Mobile is the future. What wins mobile, wins the Internet. Right now, apps are winning and the web is losing.

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We asked for flying cars and all we got was the entire planet communicating instantly via pocket supercomputers

Chris Dixon

Benedict Evans has a new presentation about the explosive growth of internet-connected smartphones.

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The Babe Ruth Effect in Venture Capital

Chris Dixon

One of the hardest concepts to internalize for those new to venture capital is what is known as the “Babe Ruth effect. Venture Capital

Exponential curves feel gradual and then sudden

Chris Dixon

“How did you go bankrupt?” ” “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” ― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises The core growth process in the technology business is a mutually reinforcing, multi-step, positive feedback loop between platforms and applications. This mutually reinforcing interaction leads to exponential growth curves (Peter Thiel calls them […

Two eras of the internet: pull and push

Chris Dixon

The evolution of the internet is an extremely complex topic. Sometimes it is helpful to find broad patterns that make it easier to understand. One simplifying pattern comes from the two types of actions internet users take: pull and push. dominant platform. Search. Social. dominant platform company. Google. Facebook. growth era. 2000s. 2010s. successful content type. Utilities. Media. content durability. Stock. successful publishers. TripAdvisor, Wikipedia, Yelp, & many more.

BuzzFeed

Chris Dixon

Today, Im excited to announce that Andreessen Horowitz is investing $50 million in BuzzFeed. As part of the investment, Ill be joining the companys board. Many of todays great media companies were built on top of emerging technologies. Examples include Time Inc. which was built on color printing, CBS which was built on radio, and Viacom which was built on cable TV.

Full stack startups

Chris Dixon

Many of today’s most exciting startups were tried before in a different form. Suppose you develop a new technology that is valuable to some industry. The old approach was to sell or license your technology to the existing companies in that industry. The new approach is to build a complete, end-to-end product or service that bypasses existing companies. Prominent examples of this “full stack” approach include Tesla, Warby Parker, Uber, Harry’s, Nest, Buzzfeed, and Netflix.

The idea maze for AI startups

Chris Dixon

An “idea maze” is a map of all the key decisions and tradeoffs that startups in a given space need to make: A good founder is capable of anticipating which turns lead to treasure and which lead to certain death. A bad founder is just running to the […].

The computing deployment phase

Chris Dixon

Technological revolutions happen in two main phases: the installation phase and the deployment phase.

VC investment vs Gartner hype cycle

Chris Dixon

Pricing to the demand curve

Chris Dixon

Many college microeconomics courses include the following exercise. The teacher offers the students an imaginary trip to Hawaii, and asks them to write down on notecards how much they are willing to pay for the trip. The teacher takes the notecards and graphs the bids.

As elegantly produced as movies and as engaging as great novels

Chris Dixon

MIT professor Woodie Flowers argues that higher education’s current approach to online learning is misguided: We decided to assume that the world could hardly wait to see our huge pile of PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, classroom locations, teaching assistant lists, and other assorted bits of information about our courses.

Why I’m interested in Bitcoin

Chris Dixon

Some people assume that all Bitcoin advocates are motivated by a libertarian political agenda. That is certainly not my agenda. I’m a lifelong Democrat who supported Obama in the last two elections. I think the Federal Reserve plays an important function, and I don’t agree with people who think inflation should be our nation’s primary economic concern. It is true that many early Bitcoin proponents were libertarians.

Come for the tool, stay for the network

Chris Dixon

A popular strategy for bootstrapping networks is what I like to call “come for the tool, stay for the network.” This idea is to attract users initially with a single-player tool and then, over time, get them to participate in a network. The tool helps get to initial […].

Some problems are so hard they need to be solved piece by piece

Chris Dixon

Andrew Parker had a great post a few years ago where he sketched out all the startups going after pieces of Craigslist: Startups that have tried to go head-to-head against the entirety of Craigslist (the “horizontal approach”) have struggled.

The idea maze

Chris Dixon

The pop culture view of startups is that they’re all about coming up with a great product idea. After the eureka moment, the outcome is preordained. This neglects the years of toil that entrepreneurs endure, and also the fact that the vast majority of startups change over time, often dramatically.

Why the integrated approach to mobile devices is winning

Chris Dixon

Until last week’s announcement of the new Surface tablet, Microsoft had taken the same approach to mobile devices that they had with PCs: build the software themselves and let partners build the hardware.

What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years

Chris Dixon

Many breakthrough technologies were hatched by hobbyists in garages and dorm rooms. Prominent examples include the PC, the web, blogs, and most open source software. The fact that flip-flop wearing hobbyists spawn large industries is commonly viewed as an amusing eccentricity of the technology industry. But there is a reason why hobbies are so important. Business people vote with their dollars, and are mostly trying to create near-term financial returns.

The credentials trap

Chris Dixon

I talk a lot to people who are deciding between startups and established companies. They’re usually early in their careers and have been exclusively affiliated with well-known schools and companies. As a result, they’re accustomed to praise from family and friends.

Putting technology at the core

Chris Dixon

Most businesses today believe that technology can dramatically improve the way they operate. But they embrace technology with varying levels of enthusiasm.

Some ideas for native bitcoin apps

Chris Dixon

Fred Wilson calls applications built using Bitcoin that couldn’t have existed prior to Bitcoin “ native Bitcoin apps “ Most of the applications built so far on Bitcoin are not native by this definition. You can buy something at an e-commerce site using Bitcoin and it is cheaper than using a credit card but buying things online isn’t a new activity. What will these native Bitcoin apps do?

How bundling benefits sellers and buyers

Chris Dixon

There is a widespread belief in technology circles that bundling of cable TV, newspaper, magazine and other information goods will go away now that those products can be distributed à la carte on the internet.

Some thoughts on mobile

Chris Dixon

- People tend to lump smartphones and tablets together as “mobile”. This can be misleading. Ask people who run internet companies and they’ll tell you that user behavior on tablets is far more similar to user behavior on desktops/laptops than it is to user behavior on smartphones. That said, the software on smartphones and tablets is similar, as are the discovery mechanisms (mostly app stores) and monetization techniques.

Steve Jobs on problem solving

Chris Dixon

When you start looking at a problem and it seems really simple, you don’t really understand the complexity of the problem. Then you get into the problem, and you see that it’s really complicated, and you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That’s sort of the middle, and that’s where most people stop… But the really great person will keep on going and find the key, the underlying principle of the problem — and come up with an elegant, really beautiful solution that works.

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Top 10 websites

Chris Dixon

Top 10 websites in the US according to Quantcast: A few observations: 1) As Josh Kopelman points out, 4 of the top 10 sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed) didn’t exist 10 years ago. 2) On Twitter , people seemed surprised to see MSN and Microsoft on the list.

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The default state of a startup is failure

Chris Dixon

If you are starting a company and wondering why nothing good seems to happen unless you force it to happen, that’s because the world wants to stay the way it is. Customers, partners, and most of all incumbents don’t want to think hard, try new things, or change in any way. The world is lazy and just wants to keep doing what it’s doing. A friend of mine got a job at a big company and was shocked to see his colleagues worked just a few productive hours a day.

Is it a tech bubble?

Chris Dixon

Every week a “we are in a tech bubble” article seems to come out in a major newspaper or blog. People who argue we aren’t in a bubble are casually dismissed as promoting their own interests.

The experience economy

Chris Dixon

Before World War 2, the middle-class in the developed world struggled to afford basic needs. In the post-war boom, standards of living rose dramatically, and people consumed far beyond what they needed. It was the age of conspicuous consumption: a race to own bigger cars and houses, and accumulate more stuff. The mean income in the developed world became sufficient to provide for a comfortable life.

The next twenty years are going to make this last twenty years just pale

Chris Dixon

Stock 43

BuzzFeed’s strategy

Chris Dixon

BuzzFeed’s CEO, Jonah Peretti , recently sent out an email to employees and investors summarizing the company’s strategy and progress. I really liked his email so I asked Jonah if I could blog it and he gave me permission. This isn’t just the usual cheerleading email – there is a real strategy here (I especially like the strategy choice in section 3), and it’s working. I’m an investor in BuzzFeed and friends with Jonah so of course I’m biased.

Facebook’s business model

Chris Dixon

Startups usually succeed because of a single major product or business innovation. Google is unusual in that they succeeded because of two major innovations: their core search product, and their keyword advertising business model. Back in 2000, when Google was wildly popular but generating no revenue, the conventional wisdom was that their business model was uncertain. Then Overture invented keyword advertising and Google adopted the same model.

The myth of the overnight success

Chris Dixon

Angry Birds was Rovio’s 52nd game. They spent eight years and almost went bankrupt before finally creating their massive hit. Pinterest is one of the fastest growing websites in history, but struggled for a long time. Pinterest’s CEO recently said that they had “catastrophically small numbers” in their first year after launch, and that if he had listened to popular startup advice he probably would have quit.

“There’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product”

Chris Dixon

Steve Jobs in 1995 : There’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do.

“There’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product.”

Chris Dixon

Steve Jobs in 1995 : There’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do.

Four types of mobile apps

Chris Dixon

If you are a founder trying to create a new mobile app or an investor trying decide whether an app has enduring value, it is helpful to separate the ways that people use apps into four categories. Time wasters : Apps that can be used for short bursts when you are waiting in line, etc. The most popular time wasters are games.

“The business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: Take X and add AI.”

Chris Dixon

Kevin Kelly thinks artificial intelligence is finally ready deliver on its promise: The AI on the horizon looks more like Amazon Web Services—cheap, reliable, industrial-grade digital smartness running behind everything, and almost invisible except when it blinks off. This common utility will serve you as much IQ as you want but no more than you need. Like all utilities, AI will be supremely boring, even as it transforms the Internet, the global economy, and civilization.

Ten million users is the new one million users

Chris Dixon

Entrepreneurs and investors have been enamored with consumer internet startups for the last few years. But there are signs this is ending. Some observations: - Thousands of early-stage consumer web/mobile companies were started and funded in last 24 months. There are only a few dozen VCs who actively write consumer Series A checks, and those VCs will only do a few deals a year. Facebook’s market cap is about half of what most tech investors expected before the IPO. -

Recruiting programmers to your startup

Chris Dixon

Here are some things I’ve learned over the years about recruiting programmers to startups. This is a big topic: many of the points I make briefly here could warrant their own blog posts, and I’m sure I’ve omitted a lot. - The most important thing to understand is what motivates programmers. This is where having been a programmer yourself can be very helpful.

Soylent

Chris Dixon

I was chatting with John Borthwick a few years ago and he said something that struck me. He said he was interested in companies that appear to be focused on selling X but are really online communities that happen to make money selling X. This helps explain why many investors are confused by the sustained success of these companies. One example he cited was GoPro.

Virtual reality: a new creative medium where the default state is belief

Chris Dixon

The holy grail of virtual reality, the one that’s always been out of reach until now, is presence. In the VR community, “presence” is a term of art. It’s the idea that once VR reaches a certain quality level your brain is actually tricked?—?at at the lowest, most primal […].