8. Ben Horowitz

Cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz, How To Invest In The Next Big Thing

Ben Horowitz co-runs one of the hottest VC firms in the Valley—raising $2.7 billion in its first three years and helping companies such as Bump, Facebook, Foursquare, Groupon, Pinterest, Twitter, and Zynga. His method is to invest in companies with founding CEOs who are still in place and then mentor them, rather than rush to bring in "adult supervision," as many VC firms do.

Team tutoring

"We have an onboarding process where we bring in the CEO and have them meet with all our teams—the talent network, the press network, etc. They take the CEO through how you work with us."

General partners

"We assign general partners who have walked down the path of building a company before to help. A lot of times, it's the little decisions more than the big ones that end up being important." *

Networking

"When you're a nonprofessional CEO, it's like, I know the guys I work with—and that's it. But I don't know 1,000 customers, I don't know all the important journalists, I don't have a great reach for engineers or execs. So we connect them with those networks."
 
* "I had a CEO who had offered this new engineer three-quarters of a percent of the company, but he wanted more. He was screwed over at his last startup. And the CEO didn't know what to do. I asked, 'What'd you give other guys at his level?' Three-quarters. So that's what he should tell him: 'You're not going to get screwed because nobody's talking me into paying more.' The CEO came back and said, 'Done deal.' The engineer didn't want 1%. He was asking for fair. If you've been a CEO, you know. If not, you have to learn the hard way. We make some of the hard way the easy way."

Timeline

  • 1995

    Joins Netscape, meets partner Marc Andreessen

  • 1999

    AOL buys Netscape for $4.2 billion

  • 1999

    Cofounds software company Loudcloud

  • 2001

    Loudcloud debuts on the NASDAQ stock exchange

  • 2002

    Sells Loudcloud's operations division to Electronic Data Systems; renames company Opsware

  • 2007

    HP buys Opsware for $1.65 billion

  • 2009

    Cofounds Andreessen Horowitz

  • 2009

    Andreessen Horowitz invests $50 million in Skype

  • 2011

    Microsoft acquires Skype for $8.5 billion

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