When I recently met up with Andreessen Horowitz’s partner John O’Farrell, I noticed something interesting on his office wall: a big picture of Che Guevara.
At first, it seemed a bit disconcerting. After all, Che was a fervent supporter of Marxism. But then again, he was someone who also liked to make huge changes.
And yes, that’s what Andreessen Horowitz is all about. The VC firm is unlike any other.
So when talking to John, we spent a lot of time on the topic of revolution — and how his portfolio companies are making a big difference.
One we talked about was ItsOn, which is striving to radically change the whole concept of how people pay and use their mobile plan. It’s actually very Che-ian; that is, the mission is to unseat a certain kind of imperialism. Hey, who doesn’t feel violated by their mobile carrier?
“With ItsOn,” said John, “a user has complete customization of a mobile plan. A user can specify how long he or she will use a certain app, like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) or Pandora (NYSE:P). This means there will no longer be a one-size-fits-all billing approach. You can be as granular as you like. There’s nothing like it on the market.”
But John is also interested in another emerging revolution: the explosive growth in data. To help things out, he has led an investment in GoodData, a top cloud operator.
“GoodData realized that many software vendors had the dashboard creation process as a low priority,” said John. “But customers still need them. So with GoodData, you can create dashboards for many top apps like Marketo, Google Spreadsheets and Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM).”
But the company has moved beyond this and now provides something called bashes. These are business mashups. For example, you can create links between Marketo, Google Spreadsheets and Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) to see how customers flow through the funnel.
But data is not just about corporations. The opportunity also extends well into the consumer space.
“People are accumulating large amounts of data across sites like Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox and Pinterest,” said John. “But the data is in silos because sites do not always play well together. Just look at Twitter cutting off Instagram, for example.”
This is where IFTTT comes in. The company makes it much easier to combine different web services, without having to be a coder. It’s all done by using publicly available APIs.
“I see big growth for the company because of the emergence of the ‘Internet of things,” said John. “This is when we will have connections with cars, sound systems and even refrigerators. Consumers will expect all these things to talk to each other.”
Yes, it’s kind of a utopian world after all — and so expect lots of radical changes ahead. Oh, and it’s something Che somehow would have liked very much.