Quotes Archive

You read these management books that say, ‘These are the hard things about running a company.’ But those aren’t really the hard things. The hard things are when you have to layoff half your company, or you have to fire your best friend. Or you have to figure out a way not to go bankrupt.

- Ben Horowitz

You should evaluate your organizational design on a regular basis and gather the information that you need to decide without tipping people off to what you plan to do. Once you decide, you should immediately execute the reorg: Don’t leave time for leaks and lobbying.

- Ben Horowitz

When my partners and I meet with entrepreneurs, the two key characteristics that we look for are brilliance and courage. In my experience as CEO, I found that the most important decisions tested my courage far more than my intelligence.

- Ben Horowitz

When screening engineers from other companies, its smart to value engineers from great companies more than those from mediocre companies.

- Ben Horowitz

When the value of the company clearly has fallen below what its assets are worth, having a shareholder who says, ‘Let’s get a better board’ can be helpful.

- Ben Horowitz

When you expect your employees to act like adults, they generally do. If you treat them like children, then get ready for your company to turn into one big Barney episode.

- Ben Horowitz

When you found a company, you have the original vision, you make all the original decisions, you know every employee, you kind of know every aspect of the product architecture and its limitations.

- Ben Horowitz

When you look at a company that’s already succeeded or is at the very top of its game, it isn’t necessarily when it’s executing well. It tends to be peacetime – you’ve defeated the competition, you have the highest margins, the highest multiple.

- Ben Horowitz

When your head of sales interviews for her next job, she won’t want to say that despite the fact that she ran a global sales force with hundreds of employees, her title was “Dude.”

- Ben Horowitz

With communication technology in general, there’s a kind of certain critical mass of people. Once you get to 15% of the world’s entire population using one communication technology, that’s a big deal. It’s beyond the theoretical at this point. The people who think it’s a fad have probably not been paying that much attention.

- Ben Horowitz

You can’t worry about the mistakes, because you’re going to make a lot of them. You’ve got to be thinking about your next move.

- Ben Horowitz

You have to be responsible when you’re running an organization, and firing people who are your friends is part of that responsibility.

- Ben Horowitz

You need to ask yourself, “If our company isn’t good enough to win, then do we need to exist at all?

- Ben Horowitz

We have a very high churn rate, but as soon as we turn on email marketing to our user base, people will come back.” Yes, of course. The reason that people leave our service and don’t come back is that we have not been sending them enough spam. That makes total sense to me, too.

- Ben Horowitz

The things you’re not doing are the things you should actually be focused on.

- Ben Horowitz

We take care of the people, the products, and the profits—in that order.” It’s a simple saying, but it’s deep. “Taking care of the people” is the most difficult of the three by far and if you don’t do it, the other two won’t matter. Taking care of the people means that your company is a good place to work.

- Ben Horowitz

There are no shortcuts to knowledge, especially knowledge gained from personal experience. Following conventional wisdom and relying on shortcuts can be worse than knowing nothing at all.

- Ben Horowitz

When I was a CEO, the books on management that I read weren’t very much help after the first few months on the job. They were all designed to give you directions on how not to screw up your company.

- Ben Horowitz

There are two kinds of cultures in this world: cultures where what you do matters and cultures where all that matters is who you are. You can be the former or you can suck.

- Ben Horowitz

When I was CEO, and I’d listen to music, a lot of people listen to music and you get inspiration from it. And a lot of things in hip hop are very instructive for being in business. Particularly, hip hop is a lot about business, and so it was very useful for me in any job.

- Ben Horowitz

There comes a time in every company’s life where it must fight for its life. If you find yourself running when you should be fighting, you need to ask yourself, “If our company isn’t good enough to win, then do we need to exist at all?

- Ben Horowitz

When interviewing candidates, it’s helpful to watch for small distinctions that indicate whether they view the world through the “me” prism or the “team” prism.

- Ben Horowitz

There’s no recipe for motivating teams when your business has turned to crap.

- Ben Horowitz

Thinking about what might happen if we ran completely out of money—laying off all the employees that I’d so carefully selected and hired, losing all my investors’ money, jeopardizing all the customers who trusted us with their business—made it difficult to concentrate on the possibilities. Marc Andreessen attempted to cheer me up with a not-so-funny-at-the-time joke: Marc: “Do you know the best thing about startups?” Ben: “What?” Marc: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.

- Ben Horowitz

Thinking back to old-time computer programming in the days before programming languages supported internationalization, we used to have to “internationalize” our code. We called this internationalization process “I18N” for short (localization was L10N), which meant I followed by eighteen letters followed by N.

- Ben Horowitz

This is not checkers; this is motherfuckin’ chess. Technology businesses tend to be extremely complex. The underlying technology moves, the competition moves, the market moves, the people move. As a result, like playing three-dimensional chess on Star Trek, there is always a move. You think you have no moves? How about taking your company public with $2 million in trailing revenue and 340 employees, with a plan to do $75 million in revenue the next year? I made that move. I made it in 2001, widely regarded as the worst time ever for a technology company to go public. I made it with six weeks of cash left. There is always a move.

- Ben Horowitz

To succeed at selling a losing product, you must develop seriously superior sales techniques. In addition, you have to be massively competitive and incredibly hungry to survive in that environment.

- Ben Horowitz

Too often the investment in people stops there.

- Ben Horowitz

Training is, quite simply, one of the highest-leverage activities a manager can perform. Consider for a moment the possibility of your putting on a series of four lectures for members of your department. Let’s count on three hours preparation for each hour of course time—twelve hours of work in total. Say that you have ten students in your class. Next year they will work a total of about twenty thousand hours for your organization. If your training efforts result in a 1 percent improvement in your subordinates’ performance, your company will gain the equivalent of two hundred hours of work as the result of the expenditure of your twelve hours.

- Ben Horowitz

Unrelenting confidence was necessary.

- Ben Horowitz

Until you make the effort to get to know someone or something, you don’t know anything.

- Ben Horowitz

Wartime CEO is too busy fighting the enemy to read management books written by consultants who have never managed a fruit stand.

- Ben Horowitz

Watered-down feedback can be worse than no feedback at all because it’s deceptive and confusing to the recipient.

- Ben Horowitz

The first rule of the C.E.O. psychological meltdown is ‘Don’t talk about the psychological meltdown.’

- Ben Horowitz

The thing that’s confusing for investors is that founders don’t know how to be CEO. I didn’t know how to do the job when I was a CEO. Founder CEOs don’t know how to be CEOs, but it doesn’t mean they can’t learn. The question is… can the founder learn that job and can they tolerate all mistakes they will make doing it?

- Ben Horowitz

The first thing to recognize is that no startup has time to do optional things.

- Ben Horowitz

The great football coach John Madden was once asked whether he would tolerate a player like Terrell Owens on his team. Owens was both one of the most talented players in the game and one of the biggest jerks. Madden answered, “If you hold the bus for everyone on the team, then you’ll be so late you’ll miss the game, so you can’t do that. The bus must leave on time. However, sometimes you’ll have a player that’s so good that you hold the bus for him, but only him.

- Ben Horowitz

The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed.

- Ben Horowitz

The hardest thing about starting a company and running a company is, there’s just so many expectations on you, and there are so many people who have things that they want you to do. It’s a lot like life about that.

- Ben Horowitz

The implications of so many people connected to the Internet all the time from the standpoint of education is incredible.

- Ben Horowitz

The important thing about mobile is, everybody has a computer in their pocket. The implications of so many people connected to the Internet all the time from the standpoint of education is incredible.

- Ben Horowitz

The key to a good one-on-one meeting is the understanding that it is the employee’s meeting rather than the manager’s meeting. This is the free-form meeting for all the pressing issues, brilliant ideas, and chronic frustrations that do not fit neatly into status reports, email, and other less personal and intimate mechanisms.

- Ben Horowitz

The key to high-quality communication is trust, and it’s hard to trust somebody that you don’t know.

- Ben Horowitz

The Law of Crappy People states: For any title level in a large organization, the talent on that level will eventually converge to the crappiest person with the title.

- Ben Horowitz

The laws of business physics have been broken in terms of how many customers you can acquire and how fast. No one in history has ever acquired 450 million customers in the same amount of time that WhatsApp did

- Ben Horowitz

The most important lesson in entrepreneurship: Embrace the struggle.

- Ben Horowitz

The most important rule of raising money privately: Look for a market of one. You only need one investor to say yes, so it’s best to ignore the other thirty who say “no.”

- Ben Horowitz

The big value of the founder running the company is really two things: the knowledge and the commitment.

- Ben Horowitz

The most important thing to understand is that the job of a big company executive is very different from the job of a small company executive. When I was managing thousands of people at Hewlett-Packard after the sale of Opsware, there was an incredible number of incoming demands on my time. Everyone wanted a piece of me. Little companies wanted to partner with me or sell themselves to me, people in my organization needed approvals, other business units needed my help, customers wanted my attention, and so forth. As a result, I spent most of my time optimizing and tuning the existing business. Most of the work that I did was “incoming.” In fact, most skilled big company executives will tell you that if you have more than three new initiatives in a quarter, you are trying to do too much. As a result, big company executives tend to be interrupt-driven. In contrast, when you are a startup executive, nothing happens unless you make it happen. In the early days of a company, you have to take eight to ten new initiatives a day or the company will stand still. There is no inertia that’s putting the company in motion. Without massive input from you, the company will stay at rest.

- Ben Horowitz

The difference between being mediocre and magical is often the difference between letting people take creative risk and holding them too tightly accountable. Accountability is important, but it’s not the only thing that’s important.

- Ben Horowitz

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