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Andreessen Horowitz is opening an office in SF (techcrunch.com)
128 points by rohanmahajan 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 114 comments





I was recently grabbing dinner with a group of CEOs and the unanimous sentiment was that they would never take money from a16z (3 founders had already and one other had a terrible experience with them during the pitch). It seemed to come down to how combative and unhelpful the partners were. I am sharing because it was a bit of a surprise to me (bootstrapped) and I think it’s important to share insight into VCs—-there is so much opacity for such an important decision.

It's well known a16z guys will immediate ban anyone on Twitter the moment for ... anything. I am not talking of trolling, abuse -- just polite disagreement, instant ban. Never seen any other organization doing similar and so consistently.

How a16z manages their social media doesn't seem very relevant to founders who are deciding on VCs. Could you clarify if you disagree?

It's their founders personal account that blocks everyone and I am reasonable sure it's a personality trait.

Andreesen blocked me, a little nobody, when I had a different opinion than him when he was supporting an argument for an investment in some kind of app targeted at young people in Southeast Asia. The app was supposed to aid them in their entrepreneurial endeavors (or somethign like that). His comment was something along the lines that the app would be highly utilized because just about every young person in Southeast Asia is entrepreneurial. I commented that that's not what I see in Thailand where everywhere I go I see nothing but kids making silly conversation and sharing selfies. He called me a racist and blocked me, which was particularly amusing because my son is one of those kids. So could I be racist toward my own son?

I do not even know why Andreessen and Benedict Evans blocked me but they both did. I can't find now because the last pmarca tweet I replied to has been deleted. Perhaps I wasn't the only one who disagreed there :) ?

But having no qualms to spout colonialist bullshit, when a country does something that he doesn't like[1]

Especially ironic considering that it was geared towards India's decision to ban Facebook's "free internet". A decision, which looks in hindsight, extremely smart.

[1] https://money.cnn.com/2016/02/10/technology/marc-andreessen-...

edit : clarify


Sounds like he may have insecurity and anger issues, not being able to process/let emotion settle and has to take some sort of action to 'protect' himself from what he perceives as too strong of a potential trigger. That certainly will make a person fragile, also may lead them to be hyper-confident in their beliefs, perception of passion and confidence is attractive to many people who don't analyze situations deeply.

It seems to me to be more that a16z just wants to squelch anything that doesn't support their agenda. They are always talking up their latest startup no matter how flimsy it may be. Anything critical said about the regard as hate speech. A place like Hacker News is anathema to them since people here are more often critical and less often buy the hype. Which is why they call it Hater News.

Hmm. I'm at my second a16z funded startup and they have been tremendously helpful at both. Their briefing program is unique and genuinely helpful, and the firm has been very useful with introductions and helping find executive hires. I'm sure there are founders who haven't had good experiences with them; but I know a ton who have.

How specifically were the partners combative? What kind of decisions were they pushing against founders' wishes?

can you elaborate? my experience has been fairly good so far, pretty insightful people

It is surreal to commute and work in SF. I take BART or Caltrain to work and amazed every day to see hundreds of thousands of engineers, product managers, sales people, data scientists get off in Embarcadero and walk to their destination. If you are in tech, it is incredibly energetic. I play “backpack bingo”, where I try to identify someone’s employer from their backpack

> If you are in tech, it is incredibly energetic.

I've never understood this. I'd like to be surrounded by people that don't all do the same thing as me. I want to meet new and interesting people, not expand the bubble around me. I already interact with everyone at work most of my day, now I have to interact with people that fit that mold even when I'm not working?

Different strokes for different folks, but SF has always felt like a bit of a monoculture to me.


It's great when you're fresh out of school, single, and want to bury yourself in the work.

It's unbelievably annoying after a few years when you're just trying to have dinner with your wife without overhearing someone talking about raising a round at the table next to you.


Exactly, after moving to Berlin from SF I couldn't believe that I could overhear conversations about art and music and a thousand other things and not the usual talk about what VC you met and how much X company is valued. Incredibly refreshing

Part of why I love living in LA. Everyone else is in entertainment which makes all conversations far more entertaining for me :)

Very well said. I've often had trouble putting into words the exact sentiment you just described.

I straddle the communities of tech/startups an the "digital nomad" world, and feel similarly when I go to dense nomad hubs (particularly Chiang Mai).

Too much of one thing gets old really fast.


It's great the first year, to be surrounded by people like you. Then it feels really boring.

I agree and it's also why I refuse to live there. I'm not young and wide-eyed anymore.

The backpack does seem to the be swag of choice for SF tech employees. Everything from Uber to LinkedIn to PlayStation. Tech branded backpacks everywhere.

I wonder how much of this is just because of the failure of Bay Area-wide fast public transit.

BART never made it to the peninsula and electrification of Caltrain is taking its sweet time. The only remaining option seems for everyone to crowd into SF :/.


What I always found fascinating (from very far, mind you) is how unconnected the entire area is -- while you can drive from Fremont to Palo Alto in half an hour (outside of peak hours at least) or from Hayward to San Mateo if you try this with public transit, it often becomes the proverbial "you can't get there from here" at least not without going into San Jose or San Francisco. Is there a reason there's almost no public transit on the Dumbarton and San Mateo bridges?

Insane we are talking about electrifying a train line in 2019 in the tech capital of America.

Population and density have been low enough that a of peninsula people own cars.

Don't think that's it. Even Brisbane (Queensland) electrified its suburban rail in the late 1970s.

Almost every big tech IPO of 2019 (Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, Slack, Postmates, Airbnb, Instacart) is headquartered in SF. It's undeniable that the center of silicon valley is slowly shifting north.

Back in the day, the name Silicon Valley came from the fact that most of the companies worked with actual silicon. Most of them were based near Mt. View because 1) The land was a lot cheaper than SF and 2) Most of the capital was there.

The "new" SV is north because all the consumer websites set up shop in SF since all they needed was office and not chip fabs, and they were mostly being worked on by younger folks who wanted to live in the city proper.

Now we have a bifurcated ecosystem where all the hardware folks (and companies) are still in the south bay (and don't kid yourself, there are a ton of hardware startups down here still) and all the consumer stuff is up north.

You just hear about the consumer stuff more because most of the silicon companies are B2B.


Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Adobe, Intuit, and Microsoft & Amazon's Bay Area offices are all in SV.

I'd really divide it by era. Anything founded before 2005 is in Silicon Valley; after that is in San Francisco. I actually think YCombinator is a big driver of that; they funded younger startup founders (largely Millenials rather than Gen-Xers) who wanted to live in the city.


Actually Amazon's offices in SF are split between the valley and downtown, depending on what they're working on. I think hardware and embedded is out in the valley. Software / services are more in SF. And that's not counting Twitch which is in the Financial.

A9 (Amazon's search & advertising subsidiary) is in Palo Alto. That's the office I'm most familiar with, although perhaps that's because of the revolving door of high-level employees between it and Google.

The "back in the day" for silicon you are referring to was pre-80s. You skipped an entire generation of software companies headquartered in South Bay that have gained prominence since then — Google, Facebook, Oracle, eBay, Cisco, Adobe, Nvidia, Netflix and lots more.

Yes, I did skip a section, but only because it didn't feel super relevant. Having worked at two of those companies myself, I'm well aware of the phase in the middle (although Cisco and Nvidia are actual silicon companies).

As a fun side note, the only reason Netflix is in Los Gatos is because the founder wanted it in Santa Cruz, where he lived, but was convinced no one would work there because it would be too far, so he picked the city closest to Santa Cruz that people would still consider Silicon Valley.


This line of thinking implies that the actual raw product for the “new” SV consumer web sites, their silicon, is “young people sweat equity.”

Have any of those companies gone public yet? While I believe there is a shift north, I also believe a lot of the newer companies won't exist in 5 years. I guess I feel SF is still a lot more ephemeral than its southern neighbors.

Twitter, Atlassian, Eventbrite, Okta & Dropbox, are all pubic & in SF. Facebook, Google, Microsoft (Github) have a sizeable SF presence.

Atlassian is based in Sydney, Australia.

Their original US office (and I believe still their biggest in the US) is in SF.

Square and Salesforce as well

Splunk too.

Also Microsoft (Xamarin)

Square too.

Every body wants to cash out before boomers leave equity markets and move into T-bills.

I'm not a specialist by any means but isn't most of the boomers' money held by pension funds and the like? Which pension funds and the like mostly use passive-investing nowadays (or techniques used by the passive-investing types, like index-tracking), which actually means buying stocks and being present on the equity markets.

What I mean is that it's not the boomers' decision to make in regards to where their money is actually invested.


Forgive my ignorance, what's "T-bills" ?

Treasury bills. Very short-term government bonds that don't pay a coupon, just typically sell at a tiny discount to face value. Little risk of any kind (default, interest rate), pretty much the most secure security there is.

Not to mention you have cheaper housing options in a commute to Oakland.

Pretty sure Instacart hasn't had any rumblings about IPO just yet...

Not quite as definite as the others, but there are definitely "rumblings" (https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/24/tech/instacart-fresh-money/in...)

I am hearing that startups are moving out of SF because it is too expensive.

Can anybody explain the strategy here? I realise that funding is mostly centralised in SF, but this still feels weird to me.


In a way, startups are leaving SF BECAUSE startups are coming to SF. That is, when there is a large influx of capital-rich startups, startups w/o capital (or who are capital sensitive) are forced out.

Overall, there's a net in-flow of startups into SF, and so, the VC's follow.


Reminds me of the popular quote: "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

You can interpret it as "a small fraction of people go because the absolute number of people is larger than capacity"

Stated like this it becomes obvious we need to pay attention to the denominator.


Yogi Berra lives!

Or modern day... "Nobody uses Facebook anymore, it's too crowded"

They do a good amount of briefing events wherein (usually larger/well known/older) companies can meet with A16Z portfolio companies for show and tell style pitch sessions. If they can host some in SF, it would certainly make things easier for a good chunk of companies logistically. Also many of their team live in SF as the article mentions and this would certainly help their commutes.

Disclaimer: A16Z are an investor in my company


don't believe the hype. the numbers coming into silicon valley still dwarf the numbers going out, even if the number of those going out is starting to increase slightly

Office rents are lower in SF than in Palo Alto.

My guess: brand/name recognition is HUGE for vc as they can get first-look to the top founders/start-ups. A16Z is one of the best VC brands and they want to perpetuate that (and being in SF paints that image). Relatedly, the start-ups A16Z funds can afford to be in SF. It's the less well-funded companies that are moving out...and are probably companies that A16Z passed on.

The more expensive, the better it works as a signaling mechanism.

I work for a start-up with offices in Sunnyvale, California. Our staff is mature people who have done this before and want the best place to establish an office and work.

None of us would dream of living or working in San Francisco. We all live and work in and around Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara, etc.

For a mostly-hype startup staffed by kids fresh from Stanford, Harvard, and MIT, I suppose the flashier the offices the better and that may mean the "excitement" of San Francisco. We're in a concrete tilt-up close to everything we need.


I think they were talking about the whole bay area. If they were talking about moving out of SF to another part of the Bay Area, SF is way more central than Silicon Valley.

Edit: I realize you would be near their old offices. Still, if they're looking to find the most entrepreneurs that they can who aren't motivated by hype, the more central from a transportation perspective, the better. And there is no place in the bay area that you can expect people from all parts of the bay area to come to other than SF.


Maybe central by geography but not by population.

I think its only recently that SF office space surpassed Mountain View. Startups originally moved to SF because it was cheaper.

I would have thought Sunnyvale would be pretty pricey too. It's like right between Google and Apple.

Exactly! But for some reason young people moving to CA to "make it" wouldn't dream of living here.

There's not a whole lot of data suggesting an exodus from SF.

There's increasing amounts of VC funding in Asia so SFBA is not as dominant as it used to be 20 years ago but SF is still by far the center of the universe as far as starting a startup goes, and there's no major trends that would suggest a decline in absolute terms.

http://startupsusa.org/global-startup-cities/


> I am hearing that startups are moving out of SF because it is too expensive.

Much like the city is soo crowded these days that nobody goes there anymore. I mean it's true (because it is crowded people get pushed to the periphery) but it also implies that the city has reached capacity and that it is crowded all the times.

More like: startups with low funding are moving out of SF because it is too expensive.


What feels weird? Being in SF or startups moving out of SF?

I think the millennials are settling into better jobs like Google and Facebook and the younger people are flocking to startups. That might be the reason why startups are now focusing on SF rather than SJ area.

I thought Gen Z was just entering college? They're in the job market already?

Yes, Gen Z (whatever they're called - I've heard "Homelanders" and "iPod generation", neither of which really feels right) is just entering college. The people entering the workforce now are younger Millenials.

The Millenial generation really has three sub-generations: Xennials (1981-1986, distinguished because they can a. remember the Cold War and b. graduated into a decent economy, so they don't have the economic despair of the rest of Millenial generation), older Millenials (1987-1992, these are the folks who were totally fucked over by the Great Recession), and younger Millenials (1991-2000, young enough that they could actually adapt to the post-2009 economic conditions and make life-choices accordingly). Almost all Millenial billionaires are actually Xennials: Mark Zuckerburg, Brian Chesky, Drew Houston, Kevin Systrom, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, et al. The older Millenials are who people usually think of as "Millenials" (grew up expecting a lot, graduated when not a lot was to be found). There's a marked difference in behavior with young Millenials: they are much more studious, much more career-focused, more of them went into STEM careers, they're the ones driving the FIRE & cryptocurrency movements, etc.


Your years for 'xennials' don't match what I understood and what I mostly see when googling it right now. My understanding has been for those born between 1977 and 1983. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xennials.

Also, this group of xennials might not have graduated in a good economy (i.e. around 2001)


I graduated from college and moved to SF in the mid-00's and it was still a ghost town after the bubble burst. In hindsight, it was the perfect time to come, because rent was still very depressed and my generation didn't have any of the bubble scar tissue.

I was referring to people who are in their early twenties. They are probably younger millennial or older gen-z based on how you see it. Also there is another effect. Sex. People like to hangout in cities where they can have more sex. Many college kids presents opportunities to have more sex and parties. That also leads to people in their 20s to prefer those locations more.

On the older end of gen z, yes.

Google and Facebook are expanding aggressively in SF also.

In the article about Sam Altman stepping down, it mentioned that YC was moving to the city as well. I guess the center of the universe is less and less actually SV.

I think the center of SV is becoming SF actually.

Perfectly said.

In the 80s and 90s, the "center" of SV was Mountain View and surrounding cities, with the VCs mostly in Menlo/Palo Also.

In the last 10 years, as companies have decided to increasingly be based out of SF, the radius of SV is expanding, and a lot of that expansion is to the north + east: Richmond, Concord, Walnut Creek, San Rafael, Mill Valley - making SF the center of the action.


> the radius of "the bay area"/SV is expanding

The radius of the Bay Area hasn't changed, “Silicon Valley” has just moved to align more with the Bay Area rather than being an overlapping region to the South. All the places you point to as “new expansion” for “the Bay Area” have always been part of the SF Bay Area which SF has always been part of.


Fair point - updated my original comment to remove the expansion of the "bay area."

Also, the South Bay is becoming/has become enterprise-land. As Silicon Valley startups increasingly aim towards the consumer market, it makes sense that they would locate themselves in the biggest media/consumer/tourist hub.

(Even the biggest enterprise companies can be SF-based, though – SalesForce, for example...)


I don't know if that's true. A lot of B2B SaaS companies are in San Francisco, and I can't see a lot of them moving (Okta, New Relic, Twilio all come to mind). That said there are A LOT of old school enterprise companies in the South Bay / Peninsula.

B2B SaaS companies are in large part about addressing the enterprise without being Oracle or friends, though!

Silicon Valley, by definition, will never include San Francisco as San Francisco is not in a valley.

That's kind of what I was going for, but I guess the bay area has become the same as SV for most people.

This seems odd, sort of paradoxical, since in the last 10 years San Francisco seems to be on a decline: not in the number of tech companies or new high rises being built, but in public health with the homeless population and cleanliness of streets — for the common person San Francisco is getting worse but VCs want to move there?

There's quite a lot of large startups in that area that A16Z has (or had) a stake in and would only be a block away from. (e.g. Lyft, Okta, and GitHub)

Does anyone other than Microsoft have any stake in GitHub anymore?

The “Peak California” article seems very appropriate right now.

Nah, it's just a repetition of predictions that people have been making for decades. It has nothing new to offer -- just the same old tropes about California's inevitable decline and the rise of alternative Silicon Valleys in other states that never materialize.

RIP Say Media (/ Six Apart / Videoegg). We used to work in that building.

Did Say Media finally kick the bucket? I remember around four or five years ago they stopped paying publishers and had to make payments with a cash flow injection. Hundreds of thousands later they made everyone whole, but damn. Specialized ad industry did not treat them well.

Their web site is still around with a 2019 copyright date, so they appear to be hanging on. I used to work at the building just north of that one (at Realm, the mobile database company, which was located between Say and Docker's offices), and I used to be a big fan of Movable Type, so I was always sort of curious about them.

Say's web site, incidentally, now lists their SF office as 442 Post Street, Suite 901. From their job listings, I get the impression that most of the action is in the NYC and the Portland offices now, though.


Pretty sure they ultimately got acquired at a heavy discount. I left before that though -- around the period you describe.

Are other startups in that building now? I thought I saw a few when I last passed by it.

Quite a few were last time I checked. Say went from filling up that entire building, to renting out the basement, to renting out the upper floors, and then moving into the basement X(

I used to live in California near A-H and the traffic at that location is easily some of the worst traffic they could possibly encounter on 280. I believe the local transportation divisions outright list their nearby 280/Sand Mill exchange as a critical priority to revamp. Imagine a 30 minute line of cars where someone unsafely cuts in every second you wait.

ah, that's because you don't know about the back way through Whiskey Hill Road to Cañada that you should take from 5-6:30 PM if you are going north. It's not bad if you are headed south. A-H is so far up the hill that it doesn't make much of an impact for them though

I was definitely only talking about that traffic with respect to A-H, since this is a post about A-H, to try and offer some context for people who haven’t experienced that for why A-H might not favor what seems like prime real estate during non-rush-hour hours.

Their current office is in a pretty nice place, but it sure did feel like it was far from the action.

> (The park was known until January as AT&T Park; it has since been renamed Oracle Park.)

I've always called it Pac Bell park to avoid confusion.


I like “the ballpark” best, that name is timeless so won’t matter which company buys up naming rights next.

Yeah but then I don't know if you're talking about SF or Oakland. :)

Technically it'd be the "Oakland Coliseum," although I've never actually heard anyone else refer to it as that as I don't know too many folks who enjoy sports in Oakland, or I'd just call it "the Oakland Ballpark" to differentiate heh. Once the "the ballpark" in Mission Bay starts hosting games then I think we'll have to resort to alternative naming schemes but I'm sure something better than "Chase Center" will be figured out.

> although I've never actually heard anyone else refer to it as that as I don't know too many folks who enjoy sports in Oakland

That's what I call it. But I spent eight years living in the East Bay, so that may be why.


"One of the last top-tier venture firms to resist coming to San Francisco" ... can anyone confirm it's true that most others already have an SF office?

That's true, but you'll find that most of the senior GP's still work on Sand Hill, because the vast majority live down there.

1 month later: "We really didn't expect how expensive rent was. Sadly, we must announce that our funds have been depleted and we're officially out of the investing game."

Weren't everybody supposed to start moving to Oakland?

What's your point? People are moving to Oakland, and it's a lot easier to commute from Oakland to SF than from Oakland to Palo Alto or Menlo.

Companies, not people. (I'm assuming).

So instead of maybe going anywhere else in the US/World, they decide to expand 30 miles north?



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