In five short years, the venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz has become an outrageously powerful investment firm, raising $US2.7 billion and backing such names as Airbnb, Box, Fab, Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest, Skype and Twitter, to name a few.
While Marc Andreessen is the company’s outspoken front man, co-founder Ben Horowitz has quietly become the go-to guy for CEOs wrestling with really hard problems, reports Fortune’s Miguel Helft in an in-depth profile on Horowitz.
He’s known as the “CEO whisperer” and has counseled everyone from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Twitter’s Dick Costolo to Jawbone’s Hosain Rahman to Skype’s Tony Bates, (now a Microsoft exec), Heft reports.
Ben’s experience and expertise make him one of the most important leaders not just in Silicon Valley but in the global knowledge economy.
But they don’t come to him for ordinary problems like tech trends. CEOs call him with the hard stuff: how to bounce back when their company is doing really poorly or how to deal with personal stuff, like firing a friend.
Ben’s advice has been invaluable to me over the past few years. He is forthright and direct, acknowledging, for example, that the job of leading can be impossibly lonely.
They come to him because he’s a legend for his stint as CEO of Loudcloud, a company founded with Horowitz and other ex-Netscape alums that teetered on the edge of extinction for much of its life until Horowitz, its CEO, stabilised it. Then HP came along and bought it for $US1.6 billion in 2007.
Despite his powerful status, Horowitz stays mostly on the down-low. Although he writes a popular blog, he rarely speaks in public or talks to the press.
Now he’s stepping out in the limelight a bit, offering his best advice to everyone with a new book available March 4: “The Hard Things About The Hard Things.”
Google CEO Larry Page is one of many big names to endorse it. Page says:
Ben’s book is a great read — with uncomfortable truths about entrepreneurship and how to lead to a company. It’s also an inspiring story of a business rebirth through sheer willpower.
So, what is his advice on how to fire a friend? The Fortune profile didn’t say. But we’ve ordered the book and will report back.