Andreessen Horowitz had a second Academic Roundtable, gathering together academics, VCs, and people in startups to talk for a few days about a variety of topics. I wasn't sure why I was invited the first time (which I wrote about last year), and am even less clear on why I was invited back, but I again had a very good time.
Before a few words about the talks, the high order point: I'm told that most/all of the talks will be put online over the coming weeks. So if you're interested, you can experience them yourself. I think it's great that they're doing that this year; if you like the talks, you should tell them, so they keep doing it. (If they don't have comments there, you can always comment here.) Sadly, they don't seem to be up yet, but I'll post the links when they become available.
Highlights would include a discussion of Bitcoin -- interesting to hear what Ed Felten, well-known Princeton professor and now ex-Chief Technologist of the FTC, thinks about the Bitcoin economy. Dawn Song of Berkeley gave a general talk on security issues of the present and future, while Dan Boneh of Stanford gave a talk on the power of program obfuscation. Raj Rajikumar of CMU gave some history and some peeks into the future of driverless cars -- it's not just Google, you know. Tuomas Sandholm of CMU talked about his take on the starting of startups while still being an academic (based on now-multiple experiences), and Josh Bloom of UC Berkeley (and wise.io) described the differences between writing papers about machine learning and building products using machine learning.
Of course, some heated discussion about the variety of issues that arise between academic work and transfer of technology to startups inevitably ensued. (Maybe that's why I get invited.) The key idea repeated by many (on both sides of the fence) in various forms was that businesses (and in particular startups) are very busy going down their road of development and product, and they may see many things out the sides of that road that are very interesting, but don't have time to explore off the road. Academics are interested in things way off the road, often thinking of issues much further out in time-scale. And (at least in my opinion) the role academics play is a good thing; there (obviously) remains a lot of ways the two worlds can interact and cooperate.