Online Epub The Hard Thing About Hard Things Ç Ben Horowitz – dedelicate.com
Their clients were other tech firms going bankrupt They IPOd in a post bubble environment with a declining market They pivoted to become Opsware a tech services firm ie further up in the backend of the managed services stack They pivoted as a public corporation close to bankruptcy which is a nightmare I wouldn t wish on my worst enemies They weathered NASDA delisting threats mass employee revolts the whole Mad Max scenario So he offers the prospect of excellent data from the inside Ben also has a reputation in the valley as a no bullshit guy so this is valuableSecond some initial thoughts To the extent that Ben s stories will generalize they only apply to fast growth venture backed tech startups that plan to IPO It bears repeating that this is but one subset of the technology space the subset that gets a disproportionately large amount of press coverage and fanfare So much of the lessons are the kind that you ve probably already osmosed from the Paul GrahamPeter ThielA360ZAVC crowd And if you haven t then you should probably start with Paul Graham and Peter Thiel rather than umping into this book which has a narrower scope and doesn t make much effort to make clear the context That s okay since it s aimed at the specific crowd but Early FM Radio just be aware if you re not of that crowd and thinking of reading this bookBen tells the story from the technical CEO perspective which is a fairly rare perspective to get given the depth of Ben s experience Note that Paul Graham only walked the walk through a 50 million dollar acuisition and never faced the challenges of being the CEO of a publicly traded corporation Peter Thiel did but is ultimately a non technical founder Besides the PayPal mafia is fairly cagey about the war stories around PayPal given the extent of the internal fights eg the ouster of Elon Musk from CEO that they want to cover up Much of the other available writings are from the VC perspective and lack founder experience Thus this book does give us an opportunity to read the thoughts of a founder CEO all the way through and beyond the IPO stage But it is by no means a masterpiece that stands alone It does offer an incremental view if you are primarily interested in the narrow niche of venture backed startups and serves as a 4 star or 5 star book of anecdotes that have potentially generalizable lessons if read critically while fully aware of the appropriate broader context That s a big asterisk though So I will attempt to summarize the core lessons that I personally got out of the books given that I am not solely interested in this space1 Being CEO in a fast growth venture startup reuires learning at an incredible pace Theob description changes almost completely within 6 months given the growth rate There isn t any way to get that experience except networking with founders who have previous lived experience as founder CEOs of large companies This is why for example Zuckerberg had long walks with Jobs A top notch VC firm will definitely help you get that which is why they are so valuable The rotating board circuit in the top Silicon Valley firms will provide this if you can get them to sit on your board Horowitz for example holds Bill Campbell s advice in particularly high esteem You probably can t unless Seuioa Founders Fund Andreessen Horowitz or KPCB is backing you2 At the end of the day you have to make incredibly complex strategic decisions with extremely limited information which creates crazy stressful environments3 To Ben s credit he does focus on good management but mostly doesn t add anything new to the corpus It s mostly the usual good stuff don t do arbitrary things don t publicly shame people don t let people get away with enriching themselves at the company s expense through strong arming don t do short term things that eopardize the long term and if you do it will rapidly become the culture and will remain permanently broken Again a decent coverage of the standard MBA literature covers this space better4 Being CEO is a lonely ob You cannot expect your executive team to understand all your decisions given their limited scope You also cannot spend the time to give them the broader scope all the time since that takes away from doing their own Religious Authority in the Spanish Renaissance jobs But if you don t they might stop trusting you It s Catch 22s all the way down5 In addition while the CEO mentor network can help with your emotions they can t help you with the decisions since it will take them weeks to get up to speed on the context You re really on your own on these decisions6 It s also emotionally harder when your final decision is 5545 and you re facing opposition from underlingsyour board that is 9010 the other way but lack the appropriate context So you re on the fence leaning one way but others are convinced that you re wrong At this point you shouldust learn to trust yourself since you re the only one with the appropriate context Your board should be experienced than you so they should be aware of this information asymmetry Conseuentially they ll usually The Intentional Brain just rubberstamp what you decide anyway This doesn t make the decisions any easier to make7 You absolutely need to develop decision making processes that are insulated from your own emotional rollercoasterinsecurity Ben likes writing things down until the words are convincing on their own I do too Whatever your methods are you will absolutely need to rely on them since you re going to be alone in the decision making processes and need some check to make sure you re operating logically with no emotional biases So develop those early I personally recommend the LessWrong corpus but you might find that too kooky Your choice8 Ben Horowitz really likes rap and hiphop That s not my thing but whatever I can respect his artistic side Anyone who criticizes him for that aspect of his personality is really missing the pointContext that Ben Horowitz did not mention that I think would have greatly improved the book1 The tides are turning and the days when Venture Capitalists could oust founder CEOs and replace them with adults are permanently gone Zuckerberg and the fact that founders like Horowitz and Thiel now lead top Valley VC firms has permanently changed the landscape So a lot of the fighting that Ben had to do and the perpetual underconfidence that he did it with won t apply to future founder CEOs This book adds to the growing corpus that helps make your case to not be ousted which partially obsoletes that aspect of lessons in the book Ironic I know2 Fast growth tech startups that have a distinctive tech advantage can win despite terribly dysfunctional management When you re in a greenfield technology space you can do whatever you want and still winust from the tech advantage For example Valve gets cited a lot for it s no management structure but they sit on a giant money spigot called Steam that ust prints money If I also owned such an oil derrick I could probably get away with mandatory sex parties every Thursday This doesn t make the case for workplace orgies3 There is great talk about how Ben rescued OpsWare from near disaster through their final acuisition by HP for 165 billion dollars But there is not a single mention of how OpsWare fared post acuisition For all I know and given the next point I suspect this was a shitty deal for HP4 It doesn t help that Ben Horowitz heavily raided the OpsWare executive team to form the core team at his next venture the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz That can t have been good for OpsWare at all5 Ben talks about how you really need your executive team to hit the ground running You can cover for one executive to get them up to speed but you can t cover for every executive Thus you need to hire top tier talent often from outside This is great But this also forms a good explanation for why top executives often seem to be from a different planet move in completely different circles and get paid orders of magnitude But Ben doesn t cover any of these pathologies or how it really is a necessary side effect of the realities of the executive responsibilities6 From Ben s raiding of his previous form for top executive talent I get an increasing suspicion that the top talent moves in tight knit teams that gel well together Your management priority should be to network and form these connections from an early stage definitely before you found your own VC backed fast growth startup If you don t have this focus you have to develop it at a late stage in the game and for that you really need top VCs otherwise you will not be plugged in at all and have no access to these folk. Udingdemoting or firing a loyal friend;whether you should incorporate titles and promotions and how to handle them;if it's OK to hire people from your friend's company;how to manage your own psychology while the whole company is relying on you;what to do when smart people are bad employees;why Andreessen Horowitz prefers founder CEOs and how to become one;whether you should sell your company and how to do itFilled with Horowitz's trademark humor and straight talk and drawing from his personal and often humbling experiences The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new venture.
Ben Horowitz oined Netscape in the very early days and proceeded to ride the internet wave all the way up all the way down and everywhere in between over the course of his career In this memoirbusiness advice book he recounts choice moments from his extensive career and shares information he found important along the wayIn a world filled with Rah Rah You Can Do It business books I found the tone of this book incredibly refreshing The opening paragraph gets right to the point that it doesn t matter how much you believe in your company when your market has crashed your funding is disappearing and your employees are revolting The key to really being a successful entrepreneur has less to do with your vision and to do with your ability to make good decisions when there are nothing but bad and worse options to choose fromHorowitz personal stories were the most interesting part of the book particularly gripping was his tale about desperately trying to raise money right after the NASDA crash when his company was on the verge of bankruptcy and his wife was undergoing a major health crisis He is incredibly honest as he talks about the sheer terror the sleepless nights the nausea and the incredible emotional toll trying to right a failing ship takes on the entrepreneurial soulIn the middle section of the book he offers specific advice drawn from things he has learned over the years including an interesting discussion on the difference between hiring for strength instead of for lack of weakness Much of this section won t be useful for people outside the tech industry however as I don t think issues like how to handle Maryland in Black and White job applications from people who work for your other CEO friends are likely to apply outside the small world of Silicon Valley A lot of his advice also applies to people who are running companies with hundreds if not thousands of employeesDespite not being in that world however I still found this book a useful read Given how grueling starting and running a company is it s helpful to get signposts from someone who has been through as much as Horowitz has If one of your executives becomes a bigerk dog you have to send her to the pound Woof Pun intended This was nothing like I expected and not in a particularly good way The subtitle Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers led me to believe this would be a useful book for a budding entrepreneur but the term building is rather misleading This covers a great deal of already very established business issues in great detail such as hiring and firing executives designing an organization s hierarchy and conducting layoffs I probably should ve DNFd it after the first half but every now and then a useful little tidbit would pop up and I would keep listening audiobooks for nonfiction always I think essentially this book was neither my style I meanserious eye roll at that uote above nor provided information I found useful Coupled with my issues with the overall structure I had to go with 1 starThe structure started out well and I was hopeful Horowitz provided a solid chronological background of his life and business experience through the first three chapters And the next few chapters did in fact provide advice for entrepreneurs of startup level companies bits like his advice to look for a market of one and ignore the thirty guaranteed rejections were very engaging But soon after it became a lost cause Advanced business advice was intermixed with stories from his own career and the constant timeline Teaching Machines jumping between years and companies was ridiculously confusing From there the structure felt completely abandoned in favor of a rambling stream of consciousness about any business related topic that came to mind All in all it was incredibly difficult to find the motivation to finish this book and I was passively listening to an audiobookthere was very little effort reuiredThere was a great deal of profanity and casual usage of terms like depression that left a sour taste in my mouth On top of that Horowitz came across as a rather aggressive abrasive person with little regard for how his words and actions might affect those around him I understand that he s facing pressures and challenges of running gigantic businesses that I will never understand particularly during his war periods and he certainly provided examples of when he was thoughtful towards other people like paying for the medical treatments of the ex CEO of a company he purchased However his approach to other people and evident lack of empathy isust not my style nor something I enjoyed listening to for an entire audiobookToo much of this book was spent in excruciating detail on his own companies and deals rather than providing advice and information transferable or usable by other entrepreneurs Perhaps with better structure his intentions would have been clearer eg lesson topic story reiterate lesson but for the majority of this book I felt like I was listening to stories with no concept of their relevancy or why I should care There was also Borderline Personality Disorder just a level of toxic masculinity show no weakness display unrelenting confidence and aggressiveness displayed in this book that soured most of the messages for me While some of the advice was useful his emphasis on hiring for strengths rather than weaknesses Iust didn t click with this bookThe Trusty Bookmark Instagram Pinterest This is the very best business book I have ever readI would estimate that I ve read roughly 1000 I ve loved maybe 100 This one is in it s own category a book that both documents the times about 12 15 years ago and paints a p If you got advice from someone you found really annoying even if it was good advice from an interesting perspective would you be able to get over how annoying the person talking your ear off isThat s basically where I am with this book I think his advice is really interesting and it s clear that a lot of the lessons This is one of the best books you ll ever read on entrepreneurship and being a CEOIf you are a CEO read this bookIf you aspire to be a CEO read this bookIf you are on a management team and want to understand what a CEO goes through read this bookIf you are interested in entrepreneurship and want to understand it better read this bookOn Friday I spent the entire day with about 50 of the CEOs of companies we are investors in Rand Fishkin of Moz put together a full day Foundry Group CEO Summit It used a format Rand has used before We broke up into five different groups and has sessions on about ten total topics throughout the day The groups were fluid people were organized by category alpha and beta but then went to the topic they were interested in There was a moderator for ea It s hard for me give this a rating as I haven t really read many other how to business books I liked the narrative section at the beginning of the book a bit better than the tactical advice section but I think that s probably Professors and Their Politics just how I prefer to get information There are some great lessons in here for non CEOs but I suspect it s even valuable for those who have founded andor run a company I think most relevant andor interesting to me were Hiring for strength rather than lack of weakness If you re bringing someone new onto the team really think hard about what strengths are most important for theob and find someone who is world class at those things If that person isn t as strong at everything else on your check list don t sweat it Importance of one on ones as a management techniue It s sort of incredible that people can manage without one on one meetings but I guess it happens The big breakthrough or at least the one that I hadn t put into words before is that it s the employee s meeting rather than the manager s I mean duh but still a good framework for thinking about the meeting As a CEO you don t have time to develop your direct reports I suspect this is really difficult for many CEOs to deal with at first I know it would be tough for me But it makes sense at that level you No Place Like Home just have to be able to do theob with minimal to no developmental runwayAnyway for my first management book this one was fun and readable and very honest Also lots of hip hop uotes for those who roll that way This is not a book that I think many general readers would enjoy The first part is about the author s experiences building and running various tech companies and is fairly interesting Most of it though is a huge compendium of short bits of management advice that gets very tedious It might be of interest if I were looking for a how to book but even so it see. A lot of people talk about how great it is to start a business but only Ben Horowitz is brutally honest about how hard it is to run oneIn The Hard Thing About Hard Things Ben Horowitz cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs draws on his own story of founding running selling buying managing and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don't cover His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses A lifelong rap
Ms to be based pretty heavily on the author s own experience ie I did this I was successful Ergo this is the right thing to do I suppose that is better than taking advice from a failure but I would prefer than one sample pointI read it based on a positive mention in The Economist I guess they are better at commentary than book recommendations I can t take insights from someone who has so little insight about himself Cases in point As a white boy you do not have to call yourself the Jackie Robinson of barbecue You can The Black Arrow of Cant just say you are good at barbecuing Or say nothing really because it s irrelevant That fact that your grandfather once WENT to a black neighborhood is not a story Seriously you should not tell people that because IT S NOT A STORY The fact that you bullied your wife into going on her first date with you is kind of a story but it doesn t reflect well on you I wish I could get past these things because Horowitz undoubtedly know much about business than I do But no I m out I haven t read many any books that are written by CEO s for CEO s If you are a CEO aspire to be a CEO or really manage anyone you need to read this book This uote is perhaps my favorite one from the book At the top nobody is there to tell you what to do It s easy to look at some leaders and wonder how they knew what to do to become so successful Are theyust really smart The truth is that they likely did what everyone else in that situation has to do get scrappy and ust figure it out and don t give upGreat CEOs face the pain They deal with the sleepless nights the cold sweats and what my friend the great Alfred Chuang legendary cofounder and CEO of BEA Systems calls the torture Whenever I meet a successful CEO I ask them how they did it Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self congratulatory explanations The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers They all say I didn t uit My second favorite uote from the book speaks to one of the greatest challenges all entrepreneurs face worklife balance I like to say work hard play hard But sometimes it s easy to forget the play part Or to buy flowers once in a while But the cost of those on your health or relationships can cost much As a company grows communication becomes its biggest challenge If the employees fundamentally trust the CEO then communication will be vastly efficient than if they don tBen had a lot of great advice on how to hire well especially executives Looking to avoid reactionary big company execs when you need someone who will come in and get stuff done proactively Looking for people who can think on their feet and not make everything a nail for the hammer of their prior experience by asking How will your new ob differ from your current one Looking for people who are mission driven and use the team prism instead of the me prism He also had advice about onboarding and trainingHiring for strength instead of lack of weakness I ve definitely seen instances of this where a candidate is great in some areas that we really need but isn t great at everything Knowing what you value most is critical here and I fully admit not easy to doI d learned the hard way that when hiring executives one should follow Colin Powell s instructions and hire for strength rather than lack of weaknessOn hiring internally vs externally Internal candidates across often do better which is a great thing to think about when building a team when it comes to CEO succession internal candidates dramatically outperform external candidates The core reason is knowledge Knowledge of technology prior decisions culture personnel and tends to be far difficult to acuire than the skills reuired to manage a larger organizationOne of my favorite sections was Managing strictly by numbers is like painting by numbers No matter how well you instrument your metrics and goals you can ever perfectly encapsulate everything you need your company to be doing Innovation is often like this with many big innovations the team will often struggle to find how it drives value as it doesn t seem to hit the core metric But they can all agree it will improve things I think a big part of the CEO s ob is to have a strong product vision and to not compromise on it I often see teams that maniacally focus on their metrics around customer acuisition and retention This usually works well for customer acuisition but not so well for retention Why For many products metrics often describe the customer acuisition goal in enough detail to provide sufficient management guidance In contrast the metrics for customer retention do not provide enough color to be a complete management tool As a result many young companies overemphasize retention metrics and do not spend enough time going deep enough on the actual user experience This generally results in a frantic numbers chase that does not end in a great productBen talked about the difference between CEO s who can set direction for a company often founding CEO s and those can can operationally run it as it grows How great CEOs need to be good at both and founding CEOs who don t scale are those who don t learn the operational side And conversely operational CEOs who don t get good at making decisions about direction will fail Ben talked about how Some employees make products some make sales the CEO makes decisions The strength of those decisions is built upon having data Data about what customers think Data about what employees think Data about the metrics A CEO has to be a constant data accumulating machine Another nuance was that a CEO can make a decision at any point in time with the data they have now identify what data would change their mind and seek it out Great CEOs build exceptional strategies for gathering the reuired information continuously They embed their uest for intelligence into all of their daily actions from staff meetings to customer meetings to one on ones Winning strategies are built on comprehensive knowledge gathered in every interaction the CEO has with an employee a customer a partner or an investorBen s stories about Loudcloud and Opsware and the Hard Things he dealt with were impressive I do think they spread too much throughout the book and would have been better concentrated in one part of the book and supplemented by examples from other companies But that doesn t detract from one can learn from them It was strange that he opens each chapter with rap lyrics that often seem very disconnected to the chapter I guess he likes rap but stillPretty cool Ben had Michael Ovitz as an advisor And that he modeled A16Z after CAA where instead of independent agentsVCs have a shared network and invest in strategic networks that will help the companies Michael Ovitz on dealmaking Gentlemen I ve done many deals in my lifetime and through that process I ve developed a methodology a way of doing things a philosophy if you will Within that philosophy I have certain beliefs I believe in artificial deadlines I believe in playing one against the other I believe in doing everything and anything short of illegal or immoral to get the damned deal doneOne interesting tendency Ben points out is that When a company starts to lose its major battles the truth often becomes the first casualty You have to be vigilant in looking for the truth and have backbone spot it The reason for this is that humans particularly those who build things only listen to leading indicators of good news Which is so true We can always find reasons to excuse away bad news and reasons to believe good news means than it should Ben closes with a uote I really believe in life is about the ourney not the destination So you have to embrace the ourney Be so mission driven that the struggles you inevitably face are worth it Life is struggle I believe that within that uote lies the most important lesson in entrepreneurship Embrace the struggle Executive Summary This is a book about Ben Horowitz s war stories Ben Horowitz has good war stories if you care about the narrow space of Venture Backed fast growth technology startups I m not so sure that they generalize to the point of making a good management guide You might be better off reading some DruckerFirst the absolute preliminaries Ben Horowitz co founded LoudCloud with Marc Andreessen in 1999 with a plan to do enterprise managed services what has now grown to the SaaS and IaaS space They were technological pioneers in that space They weathered the dot com bubble burst but it was touch and go since most of. An Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash inHis advice is grounded in anecdotes from his own hard earned rise from cofounding the early cloud service provider Loudcloud to building the phenomenally successful Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm both with fellow tech superstar Marc Andreessen inventor of Mosaic the Internet's first popular Web browser This is no polished victory lap; he analyzes issues with no easy answers through his trials incl.
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