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

by Ben Horowitz
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

by Ben Horowitz


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Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz's personal and often humbling experiences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062273208
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 03/04/2014
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 42,959
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Chapter 1 From Communist to Venture Capitalist 1

Chapter 2 "I Will Survive" 17

Chapter 3 This Time with Feeling 39

Chapter 4 When Things Fall Apart 57

The Struggle 60

CEOs Should Tell It Like It Is 64

The Right Way to Lay People Off 68

Preparing to Fire an Executive 73

Demoting a Loyal Friend 81

Lies That Losers Tell 85

Lead Bullets 88

Nobody Cares 91

Chapter 5 Take Care of the People, the Products, and the Profits-In that Order 93

A Good Place to Work 99

Why Startups Should Train Their People 105

Is It Okay to Hire People from Your Friend's Company? 114

Why It's. Hard to Bring Big Company Execs into Little Companies 119

Hiring Executives: If You've Never Done the Job, How Do You Hire Somebody Good? 124

When Employees Misinterpret Managers 130

Management Debt 134

Management Quality Assurance 139

Chapter 6 Concerning the Going Concern 143

How to Minimize Politics in Your Company 147

The Right Kind of Ambition 155

Titles and Promotions 159

When Smart People Are Bad Employees 165

Old People 170

One-on-One 176

Programming Your Culture 179

Taking the Mystery Out of Scaling a Company 185

The Scale Anticipation Fallacy 193

Chapter 7 How to Lead Even When You Don't Know Where You are Going 197

The Most Difficult CEO Skill 201

The Fine Line Between Fear and Courage 209

Ones and Twos 214

Follow the Leader 219

Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO 224

Making Yourself a CEO 229

How to Evaluate CEOs 235

Chapter 8 First Rule of Entrepreneurship: There are No Rules 243

Solving the Accountability vs. Creativity Paradox 248

The Freaky Friday Management Technique 252

Staying Great 254

Should You Sell Your Company? 257

Chapter 9 The End of the Beginning 265

Appendix: Questions for Head of Enterprise Sales Force 277

Acknowledgments 283

Credits 287

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