Editor’s note: Technology is changing the way we work, live, eat, learn, and play. We are here to help make sense of it all — not just for the builders, but for the tech-curious seeking to understand these changes. We do this through pieces that:
- argue for a particular worldview, tech trend, or mindsets that help define what the future looks like — explaining the what, how, and why they matter; what’s hype vs. what’s real; where are we now, what’s coming next, where are we going?
- help build the future — including frameworks, practical advice, and how-to around new business models, talent, operations, processes, technologies, platform shifts, more.
We are pro-tech, pro-markets, pro-innovation. But we are also “informed optimists”, not freewheeling futurists making predictions without any signals or skin in the game. So even for ideas that seem like science fiction, we want to see some logic or concrete evidence — a breakthrough in science, technology, engineering, or other rationale — that indicates what makes it possible. And our editorial bar is high: We will review and edit for credibility, precision, proportionality of claims, and more. We have a strong bias for first-person, maker insights. We don’t want normative takes — this is not a place to say “should” but rather “could” — but we do welcome frameworks for how to think about things.
We’re committed to being your go-to place for understanding and building the future. Pitch us using the forms below! [And to help you develop your pitch for us, below are the guidelines I wrote and brought from Wired, then expanded for the a16z Podcast, and am sharing here with you, for FUTURE, today.]
~Sonal Chokshi, Editor in Chief
Written pieces: what we’re looking for
- Argues a strong and specific point of view. We’re especially interested in deeper analysis beyond the obvious, or different angles — the kind of thing that starts, leads, or furthers conversations… not just follows them
- Contextualizes why it matters to someone outside the industry: Why should they care, how will it affect them? Be sure to up-level your thinking outside your own interests: What’s the big picture? Who are the other players? What’s your take, specifically, and how does it fit the space overall? Most importantly, what’s your hypothesis or argument?
- You don’t have to be the first to argue something, but if you’re not, we expect your take to be fresh and differentiated and we will help push here as necessary
- Focus on the trends and broader category, more outward-in vs. inward-out; also be sure to check what’s already been said about a given topic and how you would contribute something new to the conversation
- When in doubt, go specific over general — “grand unified theories of everything” are much, much harder to pull off than a specific, deep-dive, angled slice into a broad topic
- We prefer pieces and arguments that are proactively (vs. reactively) framed; it’s fine to respond to something out there, but the piece should also be arguing for or proposing something NEW or a fresh take
- Are there other pieces that address aspects of your argument? Interesting analogies? Theories? Direct experience or anecdotes/data you can include in your writeup? This is a great way to strike what our editor in chief calls “writer-topic fit”, so you, we, and the reader know that you’re the best person to write this piece
- Ideally, your piece should match your background or expertise. This is not about “credentials,” per se; it’s that the opinion should draw on knowledge YOU uniquely have (details no one knows are great, especially if it’s a saturated topic); data you have access to; or other expertise, experience, or earned secret. It should also self-evidently answer the question of not just what you’re arguing but why you’re the one to be arguing it
- We love new ideas and exploratory essays, but it’s not a complete free-for-all: Pieces should be credible and defensible — backed up by references, attributions, links; research, data, examples, anecdotes; or other insights
- We don’t believe in false equivalence, so no need to do both sides; but we do expect claims to be proportional to the data or facts out there
- Your opinion should be timely — there’s no need to force an arbitrary news hook, but the pieces should somehow be tied to what’s happening now or coming next; this also helps give your piece momentum and viral lift
- What length should it be? My answer: As long as it needs to be! We don’t arbitrarily believe in word count and length limits, as long as every paragraph-inch delivers insights
- Format-wise, we will take argument op-eds, analyses, data graphs, listicles, more (just about anything written), but ideally, start with pitching the idea so we can help determine the best format for it (also helps save both sides time given shaping up front where possible, but it’s also ok to send us an already-baked pitch as well)
- We believe in editing for clarity and flow, but not editing for editing’s sake or changing your true voice (we sometimes write in to show vs tell, but you can address the rationale your own way). Still, our kind of editing isn’t just copyediting: It’s editing-as-thought-partner to help you convey your ideas in the most powerful way to the intended audience
- We have a strong track record of viral hits, influencing the influencers, or shaping the conversation in other important ways. As such, we will also release pieces based on what we think the best timing for it is
- Think of all this similarly to the idea maze entrepreneurs go through for startups, but you’re doing it for a piece of content
Pitch form for written pieces
Podcast pitches: what we’re looking for
Editor’s note: The a16z Podcast/ flagship main show covers everything from tech trends and culture to innovation and company building for organizations of all sizes — not just in Silicon Valley or in traditional “tech” companies, but across all industries. Our shows are here to help make sense of it all for anyone seeking to understand the future, now.
We do this through in-depth yet accessible, nuanced conversations — bringing listeners “high insights per minute” direct from top experts around the world: business leaders and entrepreneurs, academics and book authors, creatives and makers, policymakers (occasionally), and and up-and-coming voices.
While most of our episode topics and lineups are carefully curated and crafted by us, we do occasionally consider unsolicited pitches for guests and topics — and will respond IF they meet our criteria and interest. Pitch guidelines for both regular episodes and book podcasts below.
~Sonal Chokshi, Editor in Chief
Who and what we’re looking for on the a16z podcasts:
- Topics range from technology and science to business and innovation to culture, education, and entertainment… basically, anything we can find a technology angle for — but from THE expert, not just AN expert (we prefer hands-on leaders, builders, makers, doers over commenters, analysts, consultants!)
- But expert does not necessarily mean credentials — it can be data, personal experience, or other expertise beyond degrees — we really just want people who can speak very credibly, authentically, and naturally on the topic without needing any prep because they already live and breathe the topic
- Our goal is to up-level a tech trend or topic (no selling or promotion!); make a credible, defensible, and interesting argument for guest views; and provoke thoughtful, critical discussion. We are pro-tech, but also believe in “informed optimism” and will therefore probe, edit, confirm, fact check, and much more to ensure rigor and quality
- You’ll be interviewed by a talented, seasoned interviewer — former journalists, media and academic editors, one of our general partners, and/or other a16z domain specialists — and could also be in conversation with other complementary (not competitive) subject-matter experts; sometimes hosts may even moderate from behind scenes only (meaning, the hosts are not on air in the final cut)
- Think of pitching us a podcast much like you would pitch a feature to a magazine or pitch an op-ed: What’s the argument? What’s the bigger trend? Why does it matter, who cares? And are there other experts that might be cited in a feature article on said trend, and could therefore join you/us to add dimension or other texture so it’s not just a one-note conversation? We will always line up experts and other voices as we see fit, but welcome your suggestions here!
What to expect
Timing is everything:
- We’re more interested in leading vs. lagging trends — if it’s already been a mainstream media story, it’s probably too late for us unless there’s something really new to say
- Similarly, we prefer not to cover trends or companies without an actual product unless there is some early indicator of proof point or past track record/ relevant experience involved here
- We release episodes anywhere from a few days to months later, depending on our editorial calendar, news cycle, differentiation of topic given other podcasts out there, and other factors; as always, our goal is to advance the conversations out there for our audience, so rest assured that if we wait (or don’t release it at all) that we have very good reasons for doing so!
We edit to maintain a high bar and quality for listeners:
- We DO edit for arc, beat, clarity, density, energy, flow, understanding, high insights, length, more
- We do NOT manipulate or purposely take things out of context for dramatic effect or to embarrass our guests; while we will definitely push, interrupt, and more to ensure a critical, smart conversation, our podcast is a friendly space
- We do not take down specific people or companies or allow ad hominem attacks; we will cut statements attacking, speaking for, or labeling others without their permission
- We fact check and edit for compliance as well as ensure content is not promotional or making promises about the future
- We do not send episodes for pre-approval before releasing them, except in very rare cases (government guests requirements etc.), as we will always do the very best with the material given; you will also have an opportunity both while live and immediately after recording to flag any glaring issues and we may fix in post
- We regularly kill episodes that do not meet our bar or timing, where guests are overexposed, or for other reasons
Prep tips for guests:
- No formal preparation required; this is because we prefer to keep things real and conversational and NOT at all rehearsed or scripted. We don’t typical do “prep calls” with all of the participants — this is not a conference panel, after all! — though are happy to do advance brainstorm calls with you/ your comms team just to figure out fresh angles, no-go areas, etc.
- Remember, podcasts are not recorded live — you can do do-overs while recording
- We’ll spend the first few minutes talking through together what we want to talk about, listing topics — but again, not actually talking about them! — we want insights to be as raw and real as possible; think of this as if a lunch conversation among smart strangers and friends
- Please, no PR-talking points or reading from notes; however, feel free to have some key points, data, or anecdores on a post-it or in mind that you want to hit
- We aim for freshness and differentiation from other coverage/ episodes, so appreciate your thinking about that and helping us ensure this in advance!
For books publishers, publicists, and authors
We have featured book authors on the podcast since early on and are now the go-to stop for authors on their book tours, often programming them in unexpected combos and in unexpected ways to “break the script” of the speaking circuit. Combined with our highly motivated audience across our multiple networks and broad listener base, it’s no surprise that we’ve been told by so many that our podcast is one of the few that actually moves book sales! (This is something that has been reported both anecdotally as well as in several regular conversations with major publishers and book publicists.)
As such, we ask that we be the first podcast out for book launches — often publishing a few days to even, very occasionally, a few weeks before the book release date.
We are happy to work directly with publishers, publicists, authors, or agents to negotiate dates and details, but please reach out to us as far in advance as possible so we can plan as fresh a lineup or combos as possible. You can let us know as late as when a galley as available, but ideally even before the book hits publisher catalogs. Also think of us as a platform, not just a podcast — we can weave in guests from our own organization and broader networks, as well as program broader campaigns (newsletters, paperback “reruns” for popular or time-relevant episodes, books for our lobby, more) as appropriate.
What kind of books?
- Any book about technology, science, business, innovation, or culture change — we can find a tech angle in just about anything (even cooking!)
- We prefer books with a coherent theme or argument vs. a set of stories/ case studies
- We want first-person, first-principles, non-derivative, in-depth experts (vs. analysts and consultants)
- We prefer topics that are top of mind or coming soon in the zeitgeist, that capture important culture shifts, or that cover new science developments and tech trends
- Thoughtful criticism welcome, but no cliche polemics
- Histories are ok especially if they can be spun forward with a third guest or if the author has thought deeply about future trajectory and implications
- Self-help books are ok as well if they can be tied to the zeitgeist in a meaningful (vs. “workshop-speak”) way
Prep tips for authors:
- While we will riff on the themes of the current book, we will also cover other topics related to your work to ensure a differentiated, fresh conversation that tries to “break” the book speaking-circuit script
- We will sometimes combine select a16z guests and/or other voices from our networks with relevant expertise to interview you or join the interview as fits chemistry, expertise, and interests on both ends; this allows us to bring variety or depth to the author’s interview in a way they will not experience with other cult-of-personality shows (thus better resonating with target audiences) — the best way to prepare for this is to just be you but also think in terms of the principles that drive your work, not just what the book says
- One way to prep is to think about what other questions you’ve already gotten, and what hasn’t been covered? What do you wish people knew about this book or about your work but never ask enough? What’s something people often get wrong about your field or work; what are common myths and misconceptions; what are the things you have to explain over and over?
- We welcome the stories you haven’t told already, or different angles/twists on what you’ve covered in the book, or better yet, things that didn’t make the book that you wish had — we welcome cutting-room floor bits!
Pitch form for podcasts
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