There’s a debate that rages in the corridors of VCs, startups, and other intense entrepreneurial centers, which is: Can you have it all? Aren’t the best CEOs and founders so ambitious, so driven, that they must sacrifice everything to make it work? We have seen couples struggle with this on a personal level, and there is almost always an imbalance that leads to deep sacrifices on one front or the other … MORE


The bet on Lyft has always been that ridesharing wins and it is ultimately a much bigger market than just a car for hire.

From their learnings at Zimride, the ridesharing predecessor to Lyft, the founders have held a hard-earned secret about all the subtle things necessary for people to come together in a car with strangers and enjoy it. For instance, John and Logan realized that women feel much more comfortable getting into a car if there’s a woman. Today 30% of the Lyft drivers are women, which has also had the effect of attracting women passengers who now make up more than half of all riders.

For my generation, it’s hard to fully understand the sea change of the millennial psyche. Getting into the back seat of an eight-passenger black suburban by yourself isn’t just uncool, it’s offensive — like littering, but on mass scale. If millennials can’t ride their bikes or take the bus or train, they want to rideshare. And increasingly, it’s a social experience, a la Airbnb — another differentiated, millennial brand.

Similar to the early days of building out wireless networks, we are laying the groundwork for critical American infrastructure as we transform the $2.25 trillion U.S. personal transportation market. Think of cars as cellphones in this scenario.

Ridesharing will have a dramatic impact on world around us. With this new round of funding, Lyft will be rolling out ridesharing in every major U.S. city. For those of you who haven’t tried Lyft Line, I’d invite you to save some money, be kind to the environment, and meet a few new friends along the way…

Think about what’s possible with smartphones today. The form and sophisticated functionality of smartphones has led to businesses we couldn’t ever have imagined. It’s made possible partly because of the “sensorification” of the landscape, coupled with mobile and a friendly UI. That same sensorification needs to move to the enterprise. MORE

DevOps is more than just a methodology. It’s a must-have skill set for the modern programmer — and is increasingly becoming its own department as well (the subject of much debate). And the growth of the DevOps movement coupled with complex cloud infrastructure has opened up many opportunities today… MORE

When I started at Hotmail in 1996, we were thirteen people, and frankly, we didn’t know what we were doing… The company had recently launched the first Software as a Service (SaaS) application to the world, and we were struggling to keep it up and running.

Everything about it was just so different than the traditional software we were used to:

  • We had one version of the software that was being used 24/7, as opposed to 5-10 versions.
  • We rolled out new versions every few weeks, versus months or years.
  • The end users were part of the quality assurance process and we were in a constant state of rolling new bug fixes, as opposed to a huge QA staff and a long process.
  • The software engineers had to learn to collaborate across functions with the data center techs, who rolled out the code, and the customer service group that was getting the customer QA data — compared to before, when those organizations were siloed.
  • We could see exactly how the end users used the software — real time — which dramatically increased the innovation cycle. This was very different from past approaches, where you had to do focus groups to figure out how an end user was using the software.

These were major shifts, and we weren’t sure how to organize for success … but somehow, we muddled through it.

As it turns out, though, we weren’t the only ones — just about everyone involved in the early internet era who had come from traditional, waterfall-centric programming environments started inventing new ways of doing things that were more in keeping with the always-on, fast-release iterative cycle that especially suited the world of the nascent SaaS and web-based software environments.

In 2001, a group of developers met to debate and discuss a new set of “lightweight” methods for software development, and the Agile Manifesto was born. While the manifesto wasn’t necessarily a direct outcome of the new web/SaaS/cloud organizational meanderings, it struck a nerve by stressing the need for cross-functional collaboration, communications, and short release cycles. Essentially, it helped to codify the hodgepodge of learnings we independently discovered about what worked at Hotmail, Yahoo, and other first-generation internet companies. These learnings ultimately became the underpinnings for what we now call “DevOps” [adapted from Wikipedia]:

DevOps (a portmanteau of “development” and “operations”) is a software development method that stresses communication, collaboration, and integration between software developers and information technology (IT) professionals. A response to the interdependence of software development and IT operations, DevOps aims to help organizations rapidly produce software products and services — and to improve operations performance.

But DevOps is more than just a methodology. It’s a must-have skill set for the modern programmer — and is increasingly becoming its own department as well (the subject of much debate). The rise of the hyperscale cloud datacenter has made this job much harder as developers have had to hack together tools and complex scripts for pushing code to thousands of pancake servers.

The growth of the DevOps movement coupled with this complex cloud infrastructure has opened up an opportunity for a company to own the entire process and help developers and managers manage it.

It is with this backdrop that I am pleased to announce Andreessen Horowitz is leading a $2.8M Series A in Distelli, an infrastructure automation company that I like to think of as the “DevOps dashboard.” Here’s why we’re so excited about the company:

  • It was founded by Rahul Singh, one of the early engineers on the Amazon Web Services team. Rahul is the epitome of one of our most important criteria — founder/market fit. He has essentially solved a set of problems he encountered during his nine years working on Amazon’s cloud.
  • Rahul has a grand vision for Distelli to become the DevOps platform. Application, database, and middleware deployment are just the first tasks that Distelli automates, and they’ve got a rich roadmap to automate the other things DevOps does.
  • Shortly after the first beta, the product was of such high quality that every proof of concept resulted in a paying customer. The customer references raved about how it was simple, scalable, and consistent across multiple cloud and on-premise installations.
  • When it seems like every smart entrepreneur we meet seems to adopt the same new technology at once — indirectly demonstrating it as part of their pitch — we pay attention. A few of the companies in our portfolio that hold this important distinction include Good Data, Mixpanel, Okta, Optimizely, and Zenefits; and now, Distelli.

Rahul is one of those “10x founders” (as we like to call it) that just get shit done at an astounding rate. (These are the founders to whom you’re about to share feedback you’ve heard or suggest a new feature and they’re like, yeah, we already did it.) Every month I check in with Rahul, it feels like he’s progressed ten times more…

I’m so pumped to be joining the board to help Rahul grow into a powerhouse, and am pleased that Distelli is joining the a16z family. Onward!