Originally from The Enterprise in 2020 — what 24 company builders had to say, by a16z.

Work goes remote

HR, BizOps, and IT — the unsung heroes of remote work. On the talent side, remote work has increased the importance of building out the processes and teams around IT, HR, finance, and BizOps. Where IT used to handle equipment in the office, it’s now become the geek squad for employees, provisioning and de-provisioning equipment to protect IP and ensuring applications and equipment are up and running. HR has become a strategic function for communicating to employees, managing the virtual experiences for candidates, and combating burnout. And BizOps has become the central hub for how an organization is functioning. Sales and marketing ops teams, for instance, keep the systems — Salesforce, Looker, Marketo — that tie the organization together running, an even more difficult feat now that these teams aren’t sitting next to one another in an office. — Shannon Schiltz, a16z People Practices and Jeff Stump, a16z Talent

The ubiquity of video (and it’s not just live). As everyone went remote, online video became one of the most important mediums to connect, communicate and collaborate with other people. Perhaps the most interesting video innovation was a return to good ol’ fashioned “on-demand” video, particularly in the workplace. Product walkthroughs, sales introductions, all hands meetings, and more have found a surprising home in the world of asynchronous video, which allows for more reliable production and a chance for the subject to pick the take they like, while letting prospects/employees watch when they want. — Matt McClure (@matt_mcclure), Cofounder & Head of Technology, Mux

Remote work speeds up user research and testing, making qualitative data more accessible. When it comes to product development, quantitative user data is often retrospective, while qualitative data provides forward looking trends with higher fidelity. With remote work, user testing is more accessible and the results are more analyzable through video conferencing or voice recording. We are seeing a new set of tools for better collecting, analyzing and integrating qualitative feedback into product development. — Jennifer Li (@jenniferhli), a16z deal partner

Community for growth and competitive moat. As remote-first becomes the norm for business and education, companies are using a surge in online gatherings and platforms to find new avenues for business and product development. In particular, the intersection of public communities and open source software is creating powerful competitive advantages — and even moats — that can differentiate a company from its peers and enable rapid scaling. MongoDB started as an open source noSQL database technology that built a thriving community and global brand. Elastic spent three and a half years as an open source product and community before becoming a company. And Apollo, which built a suite of tools to work with open source project GraphQL, was celebrating a million queries a month two years ago. Now, it’s on its way to handling a trillion queries a month, enabled by its connection to a broader community that is building tools and services which go beyond what the company could do alone. — Prashanth Chandrasekar (@pchandrasekar), CEO, Stack Overflow

a16z recommends: Commercializing Open Source

The remote work boom for enterprise startups. The rise of remote work, and the digital transformation it required, validated how big enterprise startups can get. This pandemic accelerated many of the trends we were already seeing, and enterprise software companies designing the future of work have seen multiple years of growth in just 2020. — Ian White, Founder & CEO, ChartHop

GTM telemetry for remote performance. As hallway conversations and desk fly-bys give way to Zoom calls and internal messaging tools, companies are automating the capture of business activity done via email, video conferencing, contacts, and meetings — also known as go-to-market (GTM) telemetry — to train a remote employee base to achieve consistent performance regardless of geographic location. — Oleg Rogynskyy, Founder & CEO, People.ai