Teach Me How to Startup
Quinn Norton speaks out on what life inside the Aaron Swartz investigation was like. “This will not be the final word on Aaron’s story, nor is it intended to be. Two years later, these are the events as I remember them, and the feelings as I knew them.” [The Atlantic]
Former dotcom millionaire Jennifer Sultan plead guilty to selling prescription drugs and conspiring to sell a firearm in exchange for four years in prison on Friday. Ms. Sultan, who sold her company Live Online during the first boom, burned through her fortune after becoming addicted to prescription pain killers. Let this be a cautionary tale for bubble 2.0. [New York Times]
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz took to Rap Genius this weekend to decode Andrew Mason’s goodbye letter. Swag? [TechCrunch]
If you got an email this weekend from Evernote that it had reset your password, that’s because the company suffered a major security breach. [The Verge]
SpaceX Dragon has successfully docked at the International Space Station, which is great because we don’t really need any more griping from Elon Musk right now. [Ars Technica]
Agitprop about “coding as the new literacy,” lost momentum last year somewhere around the time adults felt compelled to issue public apologies to Codecademy for ignoring their email tutorials. But with President Obama shouting out high tech high schools in the State of the Union–and Chinese hackers inspiring a possible “Sputnik moment“–the cause of educating young minds in the ways of coding seems to have taken on new urgency.
Witness, for example, this video produced by Code.org, a nonprofit devoted to enhancing computer programming education. “Learn about a new ‘superpower’ that isn’t being taught in in 90% of US schools,” the description advertises. Wait, America still has a chance at staying a superpower? Tell me more!
death and taxes
GQ just published an in-depth feature on Reed Hastings, the endearingly gaffe-prone (RIP Qwikster) Netflix CEO. With a slew of original programming coming to the platform–including a new Netflix exclusive season of Arrested Development–Mr. Hastings is working diligently to turn the video streaming service into a true HBO competitor.
That’s all well and good, but Mr. Hastings has other worries on his mind: mainly, why did GQ scrap his photo spread? (No doubt the shoot would’ve given the Terry Richardson-Beyonce collab a run for its money.)
A funny thing happened the other day: somebody actually mentioned the debate over how the government should tax money managers in the context of the fiscal cliff.
Exit This Way
Marc Andreessen talks fast. And so when the Andreessen Horowitz co-founder sat down for a conversation with The New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin at Dealbook’s Opportunities for Tomorrow conference, he covered a lot of ground, from the fiscal cliff to higher education, the future of English majors, newspapers and self-driving cars, and other topics our fingers weren’t fast enough to keep up with.
Teach Me How to Startup
Earlier today, serial entrepreneur and investor Chris Dixon made it official. The cofounder of SiteAdvisor (acquired by McAfee) and Hunch (acquired by eBay), who invests both personally and through Founder Collective, will be decamping our fair city for sunnier shores to join Andreessen Horowitz as the Sand Hill Road powerhouse’s seventh general partner. We spoke with Mr. Dixon by phone shortly after the announcement was made to find out what it means for the many ventures he’s involved in here (like eBay’s massive new Flatiron R&D lab, which is slated to house 200 developers and data scientists).
Don’t hold your breath for an East Coast outpost, as cofounder Marc Andreessen emphasized earlier, his is a “single office firm.” In fact, based on the tenor of our questions, Amy Grady, a representative from Andreessen Horowitz who was also on the call, wanted to assure us Mr. Dixon’s hire was about more than just geography. “We didn’t hire Chris just because of New York. It’s a huge bonus, he’s obviously really tapped in, but if we find an entrepreneur with a great idea in Idaho, we’ll invest!”
Silicon Prairie, start your pitch decks.
Visitors who search for Harlem rapper Azealia Banks’ breakout hit, “212,” on Rap Genius, an online platform that crowd-sources explanations of hip-hop lyrics, will find nearly every verse annotated by the site’s users, who clocked more than 2 million monthly uniques in August, according to comScore. Click on the line “Now she wanna lick my plum in the evening / And fit that ton-tongue d-deep in,” and a pop-up immediately appears explaining that Ms. Banks is employing a metaphor for cunnilingus and that “She stutters the words tongue and deep to mimic the stuttering that occurs when one receives such a gift.” That exegesis received 11 upvotes, earning the contributor jamima-j, a female “slam poetry writer,” a healthy bump in “Rap IQ” points on the site.
Readers might find her analysis either amusing or unnecessary. But the reigning kings of Sand Hill Road, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, view Rap Genius as “one of the most important things we’ve ever funded,” co-founder Ben Horowitz told Betabeat last week. The prominent V.C. firm, which clawed its way into the Silicon Valley firmament in just three years by aggressively plowing millions into fast-growth tech start-ups like Facebook, Pinterest, foursquare and Airbnb, often at towering valuations, were the sole investors behind the site’s $15 million Series A.
Rap Genius, the Brooklyn-based site that lets the hive mind take a stab at explaining hip hop lyrics, announced today that they have received $15 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz. The powerful venture capital firm is run by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen and rap fanatic Ben Horowitz, notorious for starting his business-minded blog posts with a hip-hop epigraph. Read More
Ladies and gentleman, there is a shadow stalking the tech scene. First Google, then Facebook, and now a whole raft of up and comers. Yes, it is the founder-controlled company (typically achieved by the arcane means of a dual-class stock structure; don’t worry about it), and today the Wall Street Journal is on it: “There’s a power struggle underway in Silicon Valley. At stake: Power itself.” (Pause for Bezosian cackle.)
The Journal even singles out one firm in particular as the ultimate advocate of the trend:
For as much as venture capitalists like to position themselves as disruptors–they stood with the 99 percent and not the 1 percent during Occupy Wall Street–they are, after all, barons in their own right. And now they’re following the philanthropic model of their corporate brethren and donating at the firm, rather than the individual, level. Today, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz promised to donate at least half of their venture capital income from Andreessen Horowitz to charity.
Historically, TechCrunch notes, “major philanthropy in the industry has mostly come from individuals, like John Doerr and Michael Moritz.” Perhaps Mr. Andreessen has been influenced by some pillow talk? In December, the New York Times profiled his wife Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s attempts to encourage “tech titans like her husband to become as famous for giving money as they are for making it,” before they retire. She advised Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Priscilla Chan, for example, on their $100 million donation to Newark public schools.