The end of Future

Andreessen Horowitz’s short-lived foray into tech journalism is over. When even VCs don’t see a future in tech hype media, what does that mean for the rest of us?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Future is dead. No, not the Bath-based magazine publisher, the brand tech magazine from venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz. Launched with some fanfare last year, it was designed to be a positive, future-looking tech publication, that countered the growing negativity around the tech industry in the mainstream press.

As Techcrunch’s Matthew Panzarino put it:

The publication will initially focus on topics related to areas that the firm invests in but will expand over time using a mix of full-time staff, paid contributors and industry operators like founders, academics and entrepreneurs. And yes, they did get the dot com.

So, how did that work out, with the financial might of the powerful tech VCs behind it? Insider:

Future hasn’t published a new article in months, most of its editorial staffers have left, and its newsletter is defunct. A source familiar with Andreessen Horowitz’s content strategy confirmed to Insider that Future is shutting down.

The last piece published was actually quite interesting: it explored the role of machine learning in biology. But the featured post sums up everything wrong with the title: it’s more crypto hype, that seems hopelessly dated only months later:

Oh, well. As Charles Arthur put it in his morning newsletter:

a16z wanted its site to be the tame teller of all the good news about its investments. But for a lot of VC investments, the news isn’t good: like all startups, VC-funded or not, they run into trouble and things go wrong.

This isn’t the first time that VCs have fiddled around the edge of tech media. The late, not very lamented Pando Daily launched with a slew of VC backers, and drifted to an unremarkable end. Pando at least attempted to bite the hand that was funding it, but the world clearly had no time for puff pablum from venture capitalists when we’re all grappling with the native consequences of the tech boom.

Here’s a gratuitous link to Charles’s excellent book Social Warming on the impact of social media on society as a “thank you” for bringing this story to my attention.

As the recession bites, we’ll most likely see a weeding out of tech titles. Between the end of the startup hype and the ad dollars that went with it, and that fact that tech coverage is becoming horizontal (built in to a range of coverage) rather than vertical (a specific beat), there’s a rough few years ahead.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.