Ben Horowitz Warns That IPOs Can Change The Nature Of A Company

“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.