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

Author – Ben Horowitz

If you have just started a business, just became a CEO, or involved in some sort of way in growing and building a business, do nothing else until you have finished reading this book. This book is an articulation of the author’s journey as an engineering staff of Silicon Graphics, NetLabs, Lotus Development, Netscape, and AOL before co- founding LoudCloud, and later Opsware. This journey culminated in the sale of Opsware to Hewlett Packard for US $1.6 billion in 2007.

So, Ben’s journey is perhaps not unique for entrepreneurs and many businesspeople because it is full of ups and downs. Every businessperson will tell you that. It is also not unique in the sense that you are invariably ‘married’ to the business, especially at the early growth stages. Of course, it is also not unique about all the functions that you must carry out – hiring, selling, seeking capital etc. But Ben’s story is a 20-year packed and intense waves of “euphoria and terror”. In the middle of it are how things that not within your control shapes the business and its outcomes – the dotcom bubble of 2000.

Unlike many other management books, this book does not just tell you about how hard it is to run a business, it shows and demonstrates what those hard things really are. They are not the ambitions, goals, targets, etc. but how to deal with those things that are not taught in all the best business schools in the world – relationships, family, friends, firing etc. But then, it is still the case that “nobody cares” – Just Succeed.

Since selling Opsware to Hewllett Packard in 2007, Ben has been the co-founder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley based venture capital firm that invests in technology firms. This book will humble and inspire you. Above all, it will tell you that “stuff” happens, hard “stuff” happens, and it is how you hold your nerve and navigate those moments that gives you the best possible chance of success.

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