PandoMonthly: Ben Horowitz Busts a Cap in Partnerships and Competition
During tonight’s PandoMonthly fireside chat with Ben Horowitz, Sarah Lacy asked the Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz co-founder about his relationship with partner Marc Andreessen and their decision to start a new partnership post-Netscape.
“Marc and I are like an old married couple, a little bit,” Horowitz says. “So at the time we were really like ‘Do we really want to work together again?’ The big takeaway about Marc is that he’s one of the smartest guys in the world, literally. And friends like Marc, you count ‘em with a peace sign (meaning two fingers).”
Ben says that the thing that makes the working relationship work is precisely that they’re always getting into an argument over something.
“Every time I get mad, I know I’m learning something,” he says.”[Sometimes] you have to question, if you want to get through that drama to get to that goodness.”
The conversation transitioned to how the two get along with other VCs. Andreessen Horowitz has very different methodologies and guiding principles than their competitors.
“I get along with them very well,” he says. “There are VCs that I really really like and that I work with all the time on various deals.” That’s a good thing, he says. If you look at the investor environment you compete on deals, but you also work together, so you’re kind of partners but you’re also in a “co-opetition.”
“But, I’m a bad cultural fit for investing, you may have noticed,” he says. “I come from the enterprise world. That’s the world of Larry Ellison. Have you seen him? There ain’t no co-opetition in Larry Ellison! If you mention one of his competitors, his head explodes.”
Lacy asked about his “haters,” to which the eminently quotable Horowitz said, “Jealousy is just love and hate at the same time. Sometimes they come at me all friendly offering up the peach sign, but to me the peace sign is just the trigger finger and the middle finger.”
The one thing that does bother Horowitz about some VCs and angels, and one of the things he feels happens far too often in the industry, is that we people comment anonymously.
“If they don’t like what I’m doing, why don’t they come out and say it? And the reason that bothers me so much is because the number one thing that I look for in an entrepreneur is courage. Courage is the first virtue. And the reason it’s the first virtue is because if you don’t have it, you don’t have any other virtue.
"It’s easy to be honest, unless it’s going to cost you your job, or your marriage, and then it’s hard to be honest. When people that are supposed to be coaching entrepreneurs walk around giving anonymous tips to reporters, and those guys are advising the people that I’m supposed to be helping. Most people are only as nice as it’s convenient for them to be.” Horowitz isn't afraid to say what's on his mind, but he is incredibly thoughtful and genuine in his responses. He is fiercely competitive but also loyal and generous with his time. Just don't cross him, because he's liable to bust a cap in yo' ass!