Jeff Jordan, managing partner, Andreessen Horowitz
In the Future of Travel Experience, Jeffrey Katz, CEO of Journera and founding CEO of Orbitz, goes one-to-one with fellow leaders to get their insights on how advanced technology and changing consumer expectations will shape the future of the industry.
In this first installment, Katz talks to one of the biggest names in venture capital and a major investor in travel companies: Jeff Jordan, the managing partner of Andreessen Horowitz and ex-CEO of OpenTable.
When you look at the travel industry overall, how do you see the opportunity for change?
There are a number of monster markets that have been somewhat immune to disruption.
Healthcare has been slow. Education has been slow. I actually think travel is one that has been pretty hospitable to entrepreneurs and innovation.
So, with the wind at your back in a market like this, I think there's a ton of opportunity for companies to come in and carve out big niches.
Andreessen Horowitz has made some significant investments in the travel and mobility sectors, like Lyft, Airbnb and TripActions. What excites you about what’s happening in travel today?
There's a huge macro shift from analog to digital that's happening in multiple verticals. It's clearly been happening in travel.
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The first movers were largely distribution vehicles, like Expedia, Priceline and Booking.com.
Today, you're seeing the next-gen coming, where smaller apparent markets are getting big enough on digital to support large businesses.
We’re seeing this in the alternative accommodations space, the corporate travel space and many others that are being reimagined in a digital and mobile format.
This explosion in entrepreneurial focus on travel segments is occurring because they are so big that they present entrepreneurs and investors with unique opportunity.
Tell us what you believe we should be more focused on from a high-level view in the travel industry?
Travel is inherently global and that's come home to me, particularly with the Airbnb experience. They have a network effect that is global.
The more people around the world who host and travel on Airbnb, the more valuable their network becomes.
I think a lot of the executions we still see are highly regional. So, what's generally missing in travel still is global.
I'm traveling abroad twice in the next two months and I actually go to different portals for domestic and international markets; that is kind of silly.
Many believe we are leaving the “Transaction Era” of travel and are in the early stages of the “Experience Era.” How do you think we will view “travel experience” in the future?
We are seeing the experience, overall, explode.
Today, you're seeing the next-gen [of travel startup] coming, where smaller apparent markets are getting big enough on digital to support large businesses.
Jeff Jordan - Andreessen Horowitz.
One of the things I'm passionate about with Airbnb’s go-forward opportunity is they have a huge business in homes but they're really reinventing the experience market around the world.
Their latest offering is starting to scratch the surface of disrupting travel agents, where they have an all-in-one trip where you get your home, you get your experiences, you get your meals, and all you have to do is pick the destination, like “I want to go to Chile.”
The other opportunity is that as travel becomes more digital, the “digital exhaust,” as I call it, or the data generated, has tremendous value.
If someone can use the digital exhaust from my digital travel bookings to make the experience better, that should happen.
What do you value most in the entrepreneurs and leaders that you back?
I generally see two different types of entrepreneurs.
One is the first-time founder. With these founders, we look for a set of personal characteristics that include vision, salesmanship, wild persistence and courage, because it's so hard. The one trait that the best ones have in common is a maniacal focus on self-development.
The other kind of entrepreneur we see is the repeat founder — someone who's done it before and is incredibly well equipped to do it again.
We have a lot of investments across our portfolio with these types of leaders.
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You sit on the boards of directors for a variety of companies. What do you see great leaders and entrepreneurs doing differently today?
The best ones are thinking less about solely the performance of the business and the bottom line than they are about their key constituents holistically.
There’s a clear recognition that to be successful in business today, you need motivated employees, satisfied customers and business partners and receptive communities; your entire ecosystem has to be engaged.
Can you share a lesson of leadership that all your years of experience has provided?
As managing partner of Andreessen Horowitz, my job is to help support the people at the firm and make them succeed — placing them in the right roles, providing the right feedback, opportunities and support.
For me, that is the key to leadership: be the kind of boss that you want to work for.
* Andreessen Horowitz was part of an investment group in Journera in July 2018. An earlier version misspelled the company name in the headline.
About the author...
Jeff Katz is CEO of Journera
and founding CEO of Orbitz.