“We’re big believers in founders,” Ben Horowitz says, explaining part of Andreessen Horowitz‘s strategy. “We really wanted to back founder CEOs and help the founder become the CEO.”
Horowitz and Bill Campbell, chairman of the board of directors of Intuit, just spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
Horowitz discussed famous examples like Steve Jobs as he weighed the pros and cons of founder CEOs. He notes that founders miss two main things that a professional CEO has: the CEO skill set and a network, both of executives and engineers to hire and in the press. Horowitz continued that Andreessen Horowitz offers founders a “professional CEO network” to plug in to to aid them.
When Campbell steered the conversation to taking companies public, Horowitz compared his own experiences at LoudCloud to Facebook’s recent IPO, noting how he lost 95% of the company’s value before turning it around.
“We had kind of a similarity with Facebook in the sense that it wasn’t the most opportune time in the development of the company to take it public,” Horowitz explained.
He added that an IPO adds a lot of pressure that lands mainly on the employees as they go home to family and friends who are reading about the company in the media.
“It changes the nature of the company,” he said, fixating on the importance of company cohesion as the scrutiny around the company rises.
The comparison is interesting as public scrutiny over Facebook’s IPO has led many to question whether founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg should step aside and bring in a professional CEO to run Facebook.
Ben Horowitz is a co-founder and general partner of the venture capital fund, Andreessen Horowitz. Horowitz was a co-founder and CEO of Opsware (formerly Loudcloud), which was acquired by HP in 2007, and Horowitz was appointed vice president and general manager of Business Technology Optimization for Software at HP. Earlier, he was vice president and general manager of America Online’s E-commerce Platform division, where he oversaw development of the company’s flagship Shop@AOL service. Previously, Horowitz ran several product divisions at Netscape...
Bill Campbell assumed his role as chairman of the board of directors in August 1998. He previously served as Intuit’s president and chief executive officer from 1994 to 1998 and as chief executive officer from September 1999 until January 2000. During Campbell’s tenure, Intuit solidified its position as the clear leader in tax, personal finance and small business accounting software. During that time, the company also invented a new class of Web-based finance businesses delivered through Quicken.com, Intuit’s Web site. For...