The rap-loving investor Ben Horowitz met Marc Andreessen in the 90s when he was hired for Netscape. At the time, Marc was 22 years old and cofounder of the company. Ben was almost 30, had three kids and was applying to be a project manager.
Here’s how Ben describes that job interview:
Interviewing with Marc was like no other job interview I’d ever had. Gone were questions about my resume, my career progression, and my work habits. He replaced them with a dizzying inquiry into the history of email, collaboration software, and what the future might hold. I was an expert in the topic, because I’d spent the last several years working on the leading products in the category, but I was shocked by how much a 22-year-old kid knew about the history of the computer business. I’d met many really smart young people in my career, but never a young technology historian. Marc’s intellect and instincts took me aback, but beyond Marc’s historical knowledge, his insights about technologies such as replication were incisive and on point.
After the interview, I phoned my brother and told him that I’d just interviewed with Marc Andreessen, and I thought that he might be the smartest person I’d ever met.
Netscape was one of the most important companies in the early days of the internet. They made one of the first web browsers used by millions of people.
Later Ben Horowitz was founder and CEO of Opsware, which provided cloud computing services to other companies. Ben helped grow the business to 550 employees and over $100 million in annual revenues. In 2007, HP acquired Opsware for $1.6 billion.
Ben had more money than he knew what to do with, so he started the venture capital investing firm Andreessen-Horowitz in 2009 for $300 million with his business partner Marc.
Ben Horowitz now has a net worth estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly over a billion dollars. Yeah, that’s not a very specific number, but it’s hard to guess what a tech investor’s worth is because it can change so quickly.
For example, his business partner Marc Andreessen had a net worth of $600 million in 2012 and $2.3 billion in 2017.
In any case, Ben is rich.
Being a venture capitalist means he invests money into dozens of small technology startup companies every year. They know most of the companies will fail, but a few of them will succeed to become profitable companies. And one in a hundred companies may turn into the next Facebook or Google, making Ben, Marc and their partners even more filthy rich.
Ben Horowitz recently changed his public email to a 21.co page, which means you can contact him here for $100, all the money going to charity.
Ben Horowitz has 3 kids with his wife Felicia Horowitz. In his book, he describes how he met Felicia on a blind date and they have now been married over 30 years.
Reading List / Favorite Books
Here’s a list of his top recommended books for entrepreneurs:
- My Years at GM by Alfred Sloan – Bill Gates and Peter Drucker both call this one of the best business books ever written. Ben found the parts related to scaling issues especially interesting.
- The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James – This book about the famous successful slave rebellion in Haiti is an unusual recommendation for a tech CEO. Ben says this is his “favorite leadership book ever and one of the great stories in human history.”
- Andy Grove’s Only the Paranoid Survive – Ben also recommends Andy’s book “High Output Management” to learn great ideas about strategy.
- The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen – Another great book on strategy.
- Focus by Al Reis – Read this one to learn about branding, naming, and marketing. The best companies succeed by focusing on a few things, like how Apple only makes a few products.