Ben Horowitz: The Key To Startup Success Is Understanding An Average Engineer's Day

Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz; Bill Campbell, Intuit

Photo: Owen Thomas, Business Insider

We’re at TechCrunch Disrupt 2012, a big industry conference that’s all about startups—and big companies that began life as startups.The first speakers: Ben Horowitz, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, perhaps the hottest venture-capital firm right now in Silicon Valley, interviewed by Bill Campbell, the chairman of software company Intuit, who’s better known in the tech world for his role as an advisor to companies like Apple, Netscape, and Google.

At Netscape, Horowitz was one of the executives Campbell coached. Horowitz is now paying it forward by coaching startups himself, in person and through his rap-lyric-laced blog.

Campbell asked Horowitz for the secret to building great companies. Here’s what Horowitz said:

Thinking about a big company—not just 10 guys with 160 IQs—it’s how it functions as a whole, how people communicate. It’s the communication architecture of the company. How do people get work done? If you’re an engineer, how do you understand what you should be working on? Do you understand how it contributes to the whole?

 And the job of the CEO, Horowitz said, is understanding that:

For the people who actually do the work, is their day what you would expect it to be? Is it something they grow from, that they get something out of?

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