@andrewchen

Essays on tech, startups, and marketing.

Latest articles

My top essays/tweetstorms in 2019 on product/market fit, investing, KPIs, YouTubers, and more

Dear readers, I’ve only been writing sporadically recently on here — mostly because I’m working on a new book project (more to come soon on that!!) which has been taking all my time. In the interim, I’ve stayed pretty active on Twitter, writing tweetstorms that sometimes turn themselves into essays on here. For a quick summary of the essays that did...

“Is your startup idea taken?” — and why we love X for Y startups

Above: Michelle Rial (follow her at @TheRialMichelle), then working at Buzzfeed, posted this hilarious infographic with all the “X for Y” ideas. Here’s the original article. I had a quick laugh, of course. But then seeing this infographic made me think through some deeper things: What are “X for Y” companies and why do they sound compelling? Are...

The Passion Economy (Guest essay by Li Jin)

Hi readers, Consumer startups have gone through many phases: Web 2.0, Facebook apps, Mobile (remember SoLoMo?), and in recent years, some of the best opportunities have been happening in the real world. In recent years, the Gig Economy has taken over. Startups like Uber, Airbnb, Instacart, and others have been able to find product/market fit and scale...

10 lessons from a serial entrepreneur – Justin Kan, Atrium, YC, and Twitch

Dear readers, The Serial Entrepreneur — investors want to back them, newbies want to learn from them, and people want to work on their teams. It turns out that, yes, being a repeat entrepreneur comes with big advantages, but there are difficulties too! And when you go through a tough experience like launching a new product, it’s often the case that...

28 ways to grow supply in a marketplace — by Lenny Rachitsky, ex-Airbnb

Hi readers, The growth teams at Uber and Airbnb occasionally met over the years to share best practices, brainstorm ideas, and share observations on the startup world. I’ve had folks over to 1455 Market St, the headquarters of Uber, and I’ve reciprocated with visits to the Airbnb offices too. I’ve learned a ton from these conversations, and met awesome...

Why startups are hard — the math of venture capital returns tells the story

Dear readers, I’m happy to announce I’ve completed my first year in my new role at a16z, and it’s been a blast! I will write more about it coming up, but in the meantime, it’s very timely that my colleague Scott Kupor has written a new book, Secrets of Sand Hill Road, with the fun subtitle “Venture capital and how to get it.” I’ve had the pleasure...

The Podcast Ecosystem in 2019 – a16z’s 68 page analysis

Dear readers, Podcasting has been a slow burn, and has turned into a movement. 90 million Americans now listen to podcasts, and if your behavior is anything like mine, it’s turned into a multi-hour per week habit. I reach for my podcasts whenever I’m commuting, whenever I’m doing a long walk between offices, or if I’m doing random stuff around the...

The Dumb Idea Paradox: Why great ideas often start out by sounding dumb.

Am I just getting old?When I encounter a new product idea for the first time, I find myself asking: Is this idea dumb? Or I just getting old? Early on, there’s often not much to judge it on besides the idea. Sometimes the idea sounds either dumb or trivial. But over the years, I’ve started to not try to judge too much, especially when it’s...

Announcing Pietra and a16z — my first ex-Uber investment!

Dear readers, Many of you may have read the recent New York Times article “Uber and Airbnb Alumni Fuel Tech’s Next Wave” which is about how alumni of successful startups often split off and start new companies, and how ecosystems of investors/advisors form around these new companies to support them. In the NYT article, I mention that a16z has invested...

What do you look for an investment? How long should a founder be without salary? And other Q&A

Dear readers, I recently hosted an AMA on Quora where folks asked a bunch of really fantastic questions. Thanks to Adam D’Angelo and Alecia/Adrienne for getting this set up. Wanted to share a couple of the most upvoted answers below: What do you look for in an investment? How long should a founder be without salary? What distribution channels should...

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