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The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers Hardcover – 24 Apr 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
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  • Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
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  • The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (24 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062273205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062273208
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

“More than any other business book released this year, “Hard Things” gives an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to lead and scale a startup.” (--Business Insider's Best Business Books of 2014)

“This is easily one of the essential books every business leader should read if they’re looking for proven and honest management advice.” (--Entrepreneur's 25 Amazing Business Books from 2014)

“The most valuable book on startup management hands down” (PandoDaily)

“There is more than enough substance in Mr. Horowitz’s impressive tome to turn it into a leadership classic.” (The Economist)

From the Back Cover

A lot of people talk about how great it is to start a business, but only Ben Horowitz is brutally honest about how hard it is to run one.

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don't cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses. A lifelong rap fan, Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

His advice is grounded in anecdotes from his own hard-earned rise—from cofounding the early cloud service provider Loudcloud to building the phenomenally successful Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, both with fellow tech superstar Marc Andreessen (inventor of Mosaic, the Internet's first popular Web browser). This is no polished victory lap; he analyzes issues with no easy answers through his trials, including

  • demoting (or firing) a loyal friend;
  • whether you should incorporate titles and promotions, and how to handle them;
  • if it's OK to hire people from your friend's company;
  • how to manage your own psychology, while the whole company is relying on you;
  • what to do when smart people are bad employees;
  • why Andreessen Horowitz prefers founder CEOs, and how to become one;
  • whether you should sell your company, and how to do it.

Filled with Horowitz's trademark humor and straight talk, and drawing from his personal and often humbling experiences, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This is a book set firmly, despite desperately trying to appear otherwise, in the "entrepreneur as hero" genre. This guy really believes that he, and he alone, could make or break a company. Breathlessly he tells of how he faced "total destruction" and personal bankruptcy in one company he was involved with. Really? Not smart enough to invest any of your cash in your wife's name? He talks of putting "first things first", with his family firmly at the top of the value tree, and then blithely explains about twenty pages later how he left his (admittedly gorgeous, sexy, life and soul of any party, but level headed too) wife ill and near to death at home while he continued with an IPO roadshow. Of course, first he got his seriously ill (still sexy) wife on the 'phone to tell him she was alright with the decision. Sorted, eh? No doubt who was the "first thing first" in that situation then. But, when you have balls the size of Jupiter, there is no doubt who wears the trousers and a man has to do what a man has to do. After all, there are some of his - HIS - employees, people who rely on HIM to buy their kids shoes, who will be facing ruin if he can't pull off this IPO. (We know this, because two pages previously he has told us how he had to fire some of them. To preserve the bottom line,)
A cross between Indiana Jones and, possibly, Jesus, this man has it all. And that's just in the first thirty pages. Reading it, if you can suffer it, you are left in no doubt how these Silicon Valley swashbucklers changed the world. These guys could borrow a hundred million from the massively smart and credible bankers at Deutsche Bank just by the way they stood. (These are the same bankers, remember, who changed the world too in 2008, with their massive brains and intellect.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The world is awash with business management books, but this one is in a league of its own. If you own or run a very small business, then you may find that much of this book is not for you. However, if you run a business of 25+ people you will undoubtedly find this book a fantastic resource. Rather than cover all the pure, pristine ways that we would like to run a company, it goes into great detail about what to do when one of the wheels comes off. Not only does he advise on what to do, but also why. I wish I had read it years ago. It would have saved me a lot of headaches, heartaches and money
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The Hard Thing About Hard Things is a page-turning combination of memoir and management advice from a CEO who has overcome seriously daunting adversity to successfully build a valuable software business and subsequently built an even more lovely VC firm that seems to be doing brilliantly. This book is designed to raise his profile with potential entrepreneurs so that they bring their new businesses to him. It's great for the rest of us that this is the case since we get a book packed with insights that otherwise wouldn't have been written.

I founded and run a (much less successful) business myself and found the advice to be hugely insightful and the story to be revealing and uplifting. A challenge that very successful people face is that they ascribe their success too narrowly around the circumstances in which they became rich, or worse around their own innate brilliance . Ben Horowitz meets these challenges brilliantly and often explains the underlying dynamics that allow you to apply his insights to your situation. He's also humble about his mistakes and the amount of world class support he got from other people which makes his subsequent success seem much sweeter to this reader.

While some of the advice could be read elsewhere (e.g. A CEO should be able to focus on making the best move possible among many unpalatable alternatives) I can't recall reading them so energetically explained. However many of his concepts seem really new and useful - like the difference between a peace-time and war-time CEO or type one or type two executives.

I read this book when it came out and returned to it over the weekend. I've bought a few of my colleagues copy's and pressed it into the hands of others I do business with. If you've got something complicated to run and you *really* want it to succeed then I'd press it into your hands too.
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I was initially drawn to this book by a Tweet by Bill Gates, and drawn further in when I read the reasons why he is giving all the royalties to charity ([...]). Having read it I can say it is one of the best business books I have read.
The book begins with a long description of the author's journey in the business world, a true roller-coaster ride through the worst of the dot com boom and bust to a final $1.65 billion exit via a sale to Hewlett Packard.
The rest of the book is concerned with analysing the strategies and behaviours that helped to guide them through the maelstrom and how he dealt with the pressure that the constant threat of bankruptcy and failure placed on him and his key executives.
A great read with some great insights.
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Format: Audio Download
`The Hard Thing About Hard Things' written by Ben Horowitz is a book that will be of use to anyone who is in charge of company, or thinks about starting own business. Inside its covers the author generously share his own experience giving many examples about proven business practices that will certainly be helpful for entrepreneur beginner, but also people who already has some experience.

Ben Horowitz, a known man and experienced Silicon Valley's businessman, with `The Hard Thing About Hard Things' gave a generous portion of advices how to build own startup and run it successfully with special emphasis on the people satisfaction. This is the doctrine that marked last years in business operations when was finally recognized and understood the importance of this business aspect that was previously less valued and often taken for granted.

His tips are given together with numerous anecdotes that occurred during his journey through the difficulties of business managing which started with his engagement in the early cloud service provider Loudcloud, all up to the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz which he cofounded with Marc Andreessen, inventor of the Internet's first browser Mosaic.

Horowitz's book is not too long, about 300 pages, and the author has intuitively split into several meaningful units that include his family background, tips about what to do when things are falling part around you, how to take care of people, tips and hazards associated with the leading, ending with golden business rule that there are no rules in business.

At one point he said nicely "...I do not attempt to present a formula in this book. Instead, I present my story and the difficulties that I have faced.
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