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Monthly Archives: April 2010

When I introduced our venture firm on this blog in July, I wrote extensively about the types of entrepreneurs and companies we want to fund: technical founders, brilliant and motivated entrepreneurs, product-focused companies, and so on. I got widespread head nods on most of the criteria.

But many people were skeptical about the "founder-as-CEO" filter. To express their skepticism, people would ask me some variant of this central question: "shouldn't the founding CEO just get the company jump started, then recruit a professional CEO to drive once the company is up and running?" 

While we agree that startup CEOs and "grow the company" CEOs need dramatically different skill sets (a point Ben hinted at in his last blog post), we wanted lay out our thinking on why we prefer funding startups whose founding CEO plans to run the company for a good long time. Cue the hip hop.

My good friend Steve Blank does a great job of describing the metamorphosis a scalable startup needs to undergo to become a big company. During that metamorphosis, many startups hire executives from big companies to help scale the business. Some go on to do a good job. 

But I've seen more than a few of those big-time execs get organ-rejected within the first couple of months of the tranpslant. Ben published a post today about this exact phenomenon called Why is it Hard to Bring Big Company Execs into Little Companies

In the post, Ben dissects the reasons why big company execs can flounder in startups, how you can spot warning signs during the interview process, and (perhaps most importantly) what you need to do to integrate the freshly hired exec into your company. Read it to save yourself a lot of heartburn created by hiring the wrong exec or failing to do your part to integrate them into the company.  

My partner Ben and I have been active angel investors for years and now full-time venture capitalists for 9 months. But prior to that (and for most our lives), we've been entrepreneurs.

Now that we've sat on both sides of the table—and have spent more time with other venture capitalists—my partner Ben has a few observations to share about what he likes and dislikes about what some VCs do. Mostly what he dislikes. Though to be fair, he has recommendations for behavior he'd like to see instead, so it's not just a rant.

And yes, there's a quote from a rap artist (Dr. Dre, to be precise). 

For those of you who have been keeping up with this blog, you’ll know that my partner Ben Horowitz has been very actively blogging—and folks are paying attention. His post on All Things Digital called The Case for the Fat Startup struck a nerve in the startup community, prompting my good friend Fred Wilson to write a counter-post called Being Fat is Not Healthy, in turn prompting Ben to write a counter-counter-post defiantly titled Revenge of the Fat Guy.

Now for those of you who clicked on the last link, see what happened there? Yes, astute reader: Ben has his own blog now. Go, subscribe, and prepare for a slew of insightful and provocative posts from Ben on leadership, entrepreneurship, venture capital, and much, much more. Also lots of quotes from rappers.

Case in point: Ben’s first post on his own blog demystifies super-angel investor Ron Conway and features lyrics from The Game. Find out why the savviest entrepreneurs trip over themselves to raise money from Ron.