Imagine your startup is down to its last bit of cash, your investors won’t follow on, you’re sure you’re going bankrupt, and everyone tells you to give up. What do you do? You decide to take your company public–it’s dubbed by BusinessWeek as “The IPO from Hell.” That’s just one of many cold-sweat moments Ben Horowitz has experienced first-hand in his career.

Ben took that beleaguered company public and eventually sold it to HP for $1.65B in one of the most impressive turnaround stories in history. He went on to co-found the prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Andreessen-Horowitz. His blog and his book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” are essential reading for tech entrepreneurs, and are an honest look at entrepreneurship from his personal experience.

I interviewed him live at UCLA. He shared some really deep leadership insights that can be translated to any industry, so while he’s not a manufacturing entrepreneur, I wanted to share it with you this week. I was curious to hear about what he’s learned through his rollercoaster journey as an entrepreneur. We talk about his love for rap music and the technology trends he’s most excited about. He gives plenty of advice to the students in the audience to prepare them for meaningful careers. We spent a lot of time talking about leadership, making hard decisions, and how to build the right culture in your company. And as we learn, decision-making and culture go hand-in-hand in pursuit of success.

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Notable Quotes

  • “Culture in a company is how people behave when you’re not around”
  • “Make decisions that demonstrate your priorities”
  • “The value of the leader is having the courage to make those very difficult decisions”
  • “There are times in a company when developing the people is the priority… but there are times when the speed and quality of decision-making is the thing.”
  • “When you’re talking to somebody, it’s not the person you’re talking to, it’s the people who aren’t in the room that you’re representing as a leader.”
  • “The only way people want to work for you is if they believe that you have their interests at heart.”



Andreessen Horowitz Site
Ben Horowitz on Twitter


About Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz is a cofounder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and The New York Times bestselling author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things, which is now available in over 16 languages.

Prior to a16z, Ben was cofounder and CEO of Opsware (formerly Loudcloud), which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2007 for $1.6 billion, and was appointed vice president and general manager of Business Technology Optimization for Software at HP. Earlier, he was vice president and general manager of America Online’s E-commerce Platform division, where he oversaw development of the company’s flagship Shop@AOL service. Previously, Ben ran several product divisions at Netscape Communications. He also served as vice president of Netscape’s widely acclaimed Directory and Security product line. Before joining Netscape in July 1995, he held various senior product marketing positions at Lotus Development Corporation.

Ben has an MS in Computer Science from UCLA and a BA in Computer Science from Columbia University.

Ben serves on the board of the following Andreessen Horowitz portfolio companies: 21, Capriza, Databricks, Foursquare, Genius, Lyft, Magnet Systems, Medium, NationBuilder, Okta, SignalFX, Tanium, TransferWise, and Usermind. He is also on the board of Columbia University and CODE2040.