The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

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by Ben Horowitz
     
 

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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 one.

In 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

Overview

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 one.

In 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 fan, 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 in.

His 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, including

  • demoting (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 it.

Filled 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 ventures.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Nancy Koehn
…a lively, candid account of the lessons Horowitz learned in the late 1990s and early 2000s…In an era of downsizing, cost-cutting and stagnant wages, Horowitz's argument and examples are apt and thought-provoking.
Publishers Weekly
12/23/2013
Horowitz, a tech entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, offers hard-earned business advice and a compendium of the best posts from his popular blog (ben's blog). For the budding tech mogul, this is heady stuff, and politic to heed, as his firm, Andreesen Horowitz, is a nearly $3 billion powerhouse that has invested in winners, including Skype, Facebook, Groupon, Twitter, and Zynga. But shrewd investing decisions don't make for riveting prose, as Horowitz repeatedly trots out war and military metaphors to describe the struggle to sustain past businesses. Horowitz is far sharper when he's blunt and candid. Admitting that as a CEO he was always scared is far more useful to the aspiring mogul than heading many chapters with hip-hop lyrics describing street corner struggles. Though passages about minimizing office politics and how a startup executive might grow into managing a larger business contain novel insights, most of the useful observations come from citing other titans, including Intel CEO Andy Grove, Intuit head Bill Campbell, and management guru Tony Robbins. This manual reads as a collection of war stories from the 1990s boom-and-bust era blended with platitudes from an older generation of established business leaders. Agent: Amanda Urban. (Apr.)
—Business Insider's Best Business Books of 2014
“More than any other business book released this year, “Hard Things” gives an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to lead and scale a startup.”
—Entrepreneur's 25 Amazing Business Books from 2014
“This is easily one of the essential books every business leader should read if they’re looking for proven and honest management advice.”
--Business Insider's Best Business Books of 2014
“More than any other business book released this year, “Hard Things” gives an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to lead and scale a startup.”
--Entrepreneur's 25 Amazing Business Books from 2014
“This is easily one of the essential books every business leader should read if they’re looking for proven and honest management advice.”
PandoDaily
“The most valuable book on startup management hands down”
Fortune
“Horowitz tends to dispense management advice in a kind of one-two punch. First comes the self-deprecating quip about mismanagement and misery, delivered with a knowing grin and capped with a two-beat chuckle. But soon the smile will vanish, and he’ll turn dead serious. His brow will furrow slightly, his eyes will widen and focus with an intensity that borders on scary, and he’ll speak slowly, deliberately. It’s almost as if you can’t afford not to listen.”
The Economist
“There is more than enough substance in Mr. Horowitz’s impressive tome to turn it into a leadership classic.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062273208
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/04/2014
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
47,926
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Ben Horowitz is the cofounder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley–based venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs building the next generation of leading technology companies. The firm's investments include Airbnb, GitHub, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Previously he was cofounder and CEO of Opsware, formerly Loudcloud, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $1.6 billion in 2007. Horowitz writes about his experiences and insights from his career as a computer science student, software engineer, cofounder, CEO, and investor in a blog that is read by nearly ten million people. He has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Fortune, the Economist, and Bloomberg Businessweek, among others. Horowitz lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Felicia.

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The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely a great read and extremely motivating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A start-up leader manual when he can't sleep and wakes up at 2AM and try to figure out payroll, capital and keeping people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suck a toe