The Hard Thing About the Hard Thing About Hard Things


I’ve just finished ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz. Now Horowitz has had an amazing career first as a startup founder and CEO and probably more prominently as a venture capitalist with his long term business associate Marc Andreessen. They have been early investors in Facebook, Foursquare, GitHub, Pinterest, and Twitter amongst others so it is safe to say he is someone who has a clue.

The book is an interesting read — there is no doubt there is a lot of advice within that will be helpful to any budding business owner whether that is a web startup or otherwise. Horowitz is especially opinionated on hiring issues and building teams (a common theme in these types of books and something I increasingly find fascinating). He also is very open about his own flaws as well as strengths as a CEO and the stories about the evolution from LoudCloud to Opsware and subsequent sale to HP is my favourite part of the book (I do wonder whether he is to blame for ‘cloud’ becoming such ubiquitous, terrible term!)

The thing with this book is that despite the use of the female pronoun throughout it is probably the most relentlessly macho book I have ever read. In saying that it is important to understand I predominately read what could be described as ‘hard boiled crime’ fiction. Like Horowitz I am a rap fan who has been known to enjoy the more gangster end of the genre. My favourite movie is Godfather Part II. Even taking all this in to account I am not sure I have ever experienced something so macho. It is like Fight Club for entrepreneurs!

There is talk of ‘war time’ strategies, the importance of cursing to inspire staff, quotes from Sun Tzu and a pretty brutal approach to hiring and firing. It takes some getting used to I have to say.

Anyway if you can get past that then like I said it is an interesting book — especially for those of you with an entrepreneurial spirit. Next time though I think I’ll stick to a good old fashioned detective story when I want my testosterone fix.