Andreessen Horowitz Tech Website Future.com Shuts Down, Employees Go away

Future was the following large factor in media. Launched in June of 2021, it was…

Andreessen Horowitz Tech Website Future.com Shuts Down, Employees Go away

Future was the following large factor in media.

Launched in June of 2021, it was billed as a buzzy new tech publication from prestigious enterprise capital agency Andreessen Horowitz — and a solution to sidestep the legacy media solely and take the message of technological progress on to readers.

With minimalist indigo branding and a flashy web site tackle — future.com — Future enlisted the Menlo Park-based funding agency’s portfolio firm executives, exterior specialists, and a collection of high-profile editorial hires to pump out a stream of hopeful articles about expertise and society.

“We’ll be having an optimistic lens on expertise and the long run,” Margit Wennmachers, an working companion on the agency, instructed an Insider reporter in an interview on the time. 

The New Yorker wrote in regards to the launch, calling it an “alternative to introduce new terminology, new ideologies, new framing, and new methods for folks in and round expertise to conceptualize their work.” Impartial journalist Eric Newcomer stated its debut was a part of a technique with “dramatic implications for the way forward for media and the enterprise capital business.” Tech information website Protocol, which shut down lately, requested whether or not it was “the way forward for media.”

However a yr and a half later, the publication is lifeless within the water.

Future hasn’t revealed a brand new article in months, most of its editorial staffers have left, and its e-newsletter is defunct. A supply acquainted with Andreessen Horowitz’s content material technique confirmed to Insider that Future is shutting down.

The ignominious really fizzling out highlights the challenges of “going direct” and constructing a brand new media model from scratch — even with one in every of tech’s greatest traders driving the hassle.

An Andreessen Horowitz spokesperson declined to touch upon the report.


The expertise business more and more needs to “go direct.”

Enterprise capital companies have lengthy sought to talk straight to founders, recruiting  former journalists to create newsletters and blogs, styling their companions on podcasts as philosophical thought-leaders, and even hiring ghost writers.

Traditionally, the technique helped differentiate companies in a red-hot market, the place money was considerable and startups had their decide of traders, stated a number of public relations consultants and executives within the business.

However in recent times, tech traders and executives have grown more and more annoyed with mainstream media reporting on their companies. Protection has advanced from optimistic running a blog to extra adversarial reporting that usually delves into thorny labor, political cultural points, and intently scrutinizes energy and affect, in a approach some tech figures understand as intentionally hostile.

Construct your personal media arm, rent an EIC, and go direct. Joe Lonsdale

On this new local weather, many tech and enterprise companies’ media technique has shifted from glorified advertising to a extra full-fledged editorial operation. IVP, one of many oldest funding companies in Silicon Valley, employed a head of content material early this yr (some Insider tech journalists have left to pursue related alternatives). Early-stage investor NFX introduced on a vice chairman of “narrative” in October. Coinbase, a cryptocurrency large, commissioned a hagiographic documentary about its founder Brian Armstrong. (The Atlantic panned the movie as “monotonous” and “the most recent frontier in company propaganda.”) 

Investing powerhouse Sequoia Capital started commissioning long-form magazine-style articles about its portfolio firm founders. There are dangers to the strategy: When crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried’s agency FTX imploded in November, evaporating billions of {dollars} in investor and buyer capital, Sequoia’s shiny profile about him was mocked till the agency quietly deleted it. 

“Cease giving free content material to the NYT firm. They’re rooting towards you and towards the optimistic sum nature of what we do,” Palantir founder and VC investor Joe Lonsdale advised founders in 2020. “Construct your personal media arm, rent an EIC, and go direct.”

Marc Andreessen.
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Ben Horowitz.
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Andreessen Horowitz (sometimes called “a16z”) was an early champion of this strategy. “That was one of many promoting factors to entrepreneurs,” stated an individual with information of the agency’s content material advertising technique, who requested for anonymity as a result of they proceed to speculate alongside the agency. “‘Now we have this highly effective content material program so we’ll assist promote who you might be.'”

In 2021, a military of greater than two dozen entrepreneurs at Andreessen Horowitz doubled down on this strategy. It already produced articles, movies, newsletters, and a basic-cable channel’s price of programming on the podcast. However it more and more appeared to supplant the media solely.


Future launched on June 15, 2021 with the simultaneous publication of greater than 20 articles, on topics starting from the creator financial system to crypto’s potential to disrupt Hollywood.

Its core focus was expertise with a decidedly optimistic bent, but it surely typically branched out — additionally writing on wildfires within the American West and the way to safe medical laboratories. It grew to become a house to large editorial initiatives just like the Knowledge 50, an evaluation of prime startups engaged on information, and the same record Market 100.

It quickly settled into a daily cadence, publishing a narrative each three or 4 days on common. “Say I am ‘Mr. Smarty Pants’ or a really attention-grabbing analyst, I believe the query must be: Ought to I attempt to get this into The New York Instances or ought to I get it into Future?” stated Wennmachers at Future’s launch. “We wish to assist advance the narrative in regards to the future, and the way expertise shapes it. As a result of if we try this, our firms can have a neater time flourishing.”

A screenshot of the homepage of Future.com

Future.com, a16z’s tech publication, hasn’t revealed something since early October, and its prime headline is from July.

Future.com



However Future fell wanting expectations, observers say. Individuals are drawn to a enterprise agency’s content material due to the names behind it, stated a advertising government at one other VC agency. Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, the agency’s cofounders, virtually by no means wrote for the location. “Future ended up being a hodgepodge of self-serving content material. That is what we’ve Medium for,” they stated.

Its output additionally drew sneers from journalists. “It would not all the time finish nicely while you rent folks to inform the world how nice you might be. Future.com, from my periodic glances, is a sleep fest, devoid of even essentially the most justifiable skepticism and pressure,” wrote Brad Stone, a veteran tech journalist, in a Bloomberg e-newsletter this yr.

As lately as June, Future’s route appeared optimistic. “We launched Future to be the go-to place for anybody constructing, advancing, or interested in expertise, essentially the most highly effective drive shaping the long run,” it wrote on Twitter. “We’re simply getting began.”

 

After sluggish development, reader curiosity waned over the autumn. In August 2022, its web site had round 1.3 million visits, in response to estimates from Comparable Net; by October, it dropped to 423,000.

And it stopped publishing.

Future’s final story was launched on October 5 — an interview inspecting the intersection of machine studying and biology. The highest “featured publish” on its homepage, “What the Merge Means for Ethereum,” was revealed in July.

 

The publication has additionally seen an exodus of staffers. Ex-CNN editor Maggie Leung, Future’s government editor, has left, and so has managing editor Amelia Salyers, who joined the agency 4 years in the past.

Different departures included crypto editor Jeff Benson, who joined from business publication Decrypt however left in October after simply six months, together with veteran science author Nicole Neuman, who had served seven months as biology editor.

Laura Nunnally, a companion and advertising professional on the initiative, left in July, as did Theresa Fisher, a common editor who beforehand labored for publications at medical startup Zocdoc and mattress firm Casper.

Not one of the editorial staffers responded to Insider’s requests for remark.


On November 9, Andreessen Horowitz made one other large media announcement: It was relaunching its podcast.

The corporate dropped a triple-bill of episodes, that includes Marc Andreessen, director Karen X Cheng, and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, with the present helmed by Steph Smith (previously a key staffer at Future.)

The transfer signifies that, regardless of Future’s travails, A16z is in no way giving up on direct media.

Future.com, from my periodic glances, is a sleep fest. Brad Stone

There’s nonetheless a gentle drumbeat of weblog posts and think-pieces on the promise of recent applied sciences, startup hiring recommendation, and new investments — however they’re being revealed immediately on the agency’s web site, a16z.com, or cryptocurrency-focused sister website a16zcrypto.com. In November, it revealed a shiny characteristic known as “The American Dynamism 50,” an inventory of fifty firms engaged on “urgent points to help the nationwide web” that adopted an analogous format to different lists it revealed to Future over the previous yr.

Andreessen Horowitz stays dedicated to “going direct” and plans to proceed to crank out content material at a daily cadence, an individual acquainted with the agency’s content material technique stated, however such materials will stay on its most important web site as an alternative. A16z concluded over the previous yr that it wasn’t price spending the time and vitality constructing a brand new, separate model given the agency’s prominence, the individual added.

It is also leaning into YouTube as a part of its podcast push, although it is nonetheless early days: Most of its latest movies have a number of hundred or thousand views. The agency lately employed Maria LaMagna Morales, who beforehand labored on CNN’s streaming service, to help efforts. And a job itemizing on the web site reveals the agency is getting ready to launch a brand new, flagship podcast on tech and tradition.

The corporate’s prime companions are personally embracing the “going direct” philosophy. 

Common companion Sriram Krishnan runs a YouTube channel along with his spouse, fellow investor Aarthi Ramamurthy: Aarthi and Sriram’s Good Time Present. Interviewees embrace Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and conservative pundit Saagar Enjeti, on topics starting from NFTs to the hazards of politics within the office. (Their hottest movies get tens of hundreds of views; others get a number of hundred or few thousand.)

Andreessen, traditionally a prolific tweeter, can also be eager to sidestep the normal media. When Insider reporters started reaching out to a few of his colleagues and associates in October 2022 to inquire about his latest actions, he fired off a 34-tweet thread about Andreessen Horowitz’s development, the way forward for California, and books he is been studying. “Lord is aware of what they will finally publish, so I believed I’d simply write this as an alternative,” he defined. 

He adopted it up with a second, tongue-in-cheek thread in November, informing his followers he was not consuming ayahuasca, snowboarding, or “plotting any subversion of American democracy.”

Further reporting by Walt Hickey.

Disclosure: Melia Russell’s husband is a former worker of Andreessen Horowitz.

Correction: December 1, 2022 — An earlier model of this story misstated when Future.com’s visitors started to say no, on account of an error in Comparable Net’s information. Visitors started to drop in September 2022, not August.


Do you’re employed at Andreessen Horowitz? Contact reporter Rob Worth through encrypted messaging app Sign at +1 650-636-6268 or e-mail at [email protected] Melia Russell is at +1 603-913-3085 and [email protected]