You may have heard the news that Andreessen Horowitz hired ex-Wired Editor Michael Copeland (TechCrunch coverage). They are clearly getting into the content game, in some capacity. Sure they may have just hired Michael to help their portfolio companies with content, or to start blogging as yet another voice for their firm. Or Copeland may lead the charge to cover the Venture Capital industry and bring everyone else underneath them in terms of thought leadership, in hopes of recruiting a few other high profile venture partners.
But, for the VC firm that has raised $2.7 billion, I doubt any of those options are the content strategy.
They are thinking bigger. Much bigger.
I’m betting they hired Copeland because they plan to go “all in” on content.
What does “all in” mean?
Build a technology blog to rival Pandodaily and TechCrunch. A destination full of thoughtful news, analysis, and advice for savvy entrepreneurs.
Absurd, right? Rival Pandodaily? TechCrunch? But, don’t forget, this is the firm that has hired best of breed marketers, biz dev, UI, and every other department to assist their portfolio companies. A firm with a fund that dwarfs all but a few in the industry. Owning and being associated with an extremely well read startup blog would be yet another resource they could offer their portfolio companies.
They of course want the best deal flow in the entire industry. They want to ensure they are involved in the next Uber. The next AirBnB. The next Facebook. The next YouTube.
How do they do that? Gain mindshare with the best entrepreneurs in the business. From a thought leadership perspective, they are still way behind Fred Wilson. There is literally not a single extremely bright entrepreneur I’ve spoken to that doesn’t as least casually follow Fred’s blog — and most certainly not anyone who doesn’t know who he is. Yes, most everyone knows Andreessen Horowitz – but not many “know” the partners like they know Fred.
A Tech Crunch competitor coming from Andreessen would surely be a multi author blog. I run several multi-author blogs, and yes, it’s certainly hard work getting content from varying contributors. But it can be done extremely successfully. The Tech Crunch’s of the world are proof of that. It requires focus and manpower to build community with authors and develop real rapport. The Andreessen portfolio is large enough, where getting contributions from a variety of individuals covering a wide range of issues of interest to the industry is feasible. They have in house staff that can produce high quality content on business development, user experience, and public relations. Any great blog needs an opinionated, intelligent voice or two — and I’m willing to bet those people are sitting somewhere inside their portfolio without an outlet for their writing creativity. Copeland and Andreessen Horowitz have everything they need to take a real crack at competing.
Michael Copeland can be the facilitator to bring all the great content from their entire portfolio under one roof. The most important aspect to success? Keep it concise, and high quality. The reason I read Fred’s blog daily and only (sometimes) skim the rest of the web, is because I can handle one post a day. I can’t process 5-15 per day. That’s just more noise to tune out.
To recap, here are the reasons this approach makes sense:
- Deal flow
- A large following to push news from their portfolio too
- A community to rival the AVC community
- Thought leadership
Sure, taking on TechCrunch may sound unreasonable for a Venture Capital firm.
But that’s precisely why they are going for it.