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The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers [Format Kindle]

Ben Horowitz
4.8 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)

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Revue de presse

“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)

Présentation de l'éditeur

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

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

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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Must Read for All Entreprenuers 23 avril 2014
Ben Horowitz is a very well known name in the Silicone Valley circles. A veteran of tech industry and a very successful entrepreneur, Horowitz is a cofounder of Andreesen-Horowitz, one of the most dynamic and successful high-tech venture capital firms. Those credentials, impressive as they are, would not in-and-of themselves distinguished Horowitz in the place that is teeming with incredibly talented and incredibly successful individuals. What really makes Horowitz one of the most admired figures in the world of high-tech startups are his unique willingness and ability to share the hard-earned insights from his experiences with others who are embarking upon the same path of building a successful company. For many years Horowitz has shared many of those insights via his blog. In “The Hard Thing About The Hard Things” he’s distilled some of those insights into an engaging and extremely informative book.

Writing a blog may seem like a great way of accumulating enough material for a book: you write when the fancy strikes you, you don’t have any writing deadlines to deal with, you don’t have to worry about the stricture of the written material, you get immediate and ongoing feedback from your readers which can help you correct and refine your ideas, etc. However, from my experience, most blogs that have been turned into books tend to be a failure. The fragmentary and disjoined nature of blog writing is at odds with the clear and unified structure that we’ve come to expect from books. Horowitz manages to overcome that barrier, and the book the book that comes out of his blog is remarkably coherent and smooth.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A must read for CEO's 16 avril 2015
Format:Format Kindle
A very interesting book from an obviously very experienced man. Every piece of advice is well thought and the situations described are indeed tough ones.

I would say that this book is more directed towards CEO's of big corporations than towards wannabe entrepreneurs or startup founders. Horowitz describes situation of incredibly high pressure, where an infinity of interests are at stake. While not groundbreaking, some ideas are good, like practicing one-on-one meetings with every employee and asking them to define the agenda themselves.

I didn't finish the last 20 pages, the book gets a tad repetitive near the end, you get the point before this.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 excellent 26 novembre 2014
Par aks.sif
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Le meilleur livre de management que j'ai eu l'occasion de lire et je lis beaucoup trop!
A conseiller à tous ceux qui conseillent des entrepreneurs. Pour ce qui est des entrepreneurs ils se passionnent rarement pour les livres de management.
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1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 fascinant 29 janvier 2015
Par Richard K
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Obligatoire pour tous et toutes.

Quinze mot de plus pour amazon a fin de contourner leur filtre inutile. Hello jeff.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 étoiles sur 5  609 commentaires
207 internautes sur 235 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 The Meh Thing about Meh Books 24 mai 2014
Par Christopher Williams - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Ben is a smart guy. Ben has a lot of good things to say about what it means to be a CEO. Ben has worked in the whirlwind that is/was Silicon Valley on products you probably never heard of at the height of the silliness. Ben grew a lot as a leader and made a ton of money doing that. Unfortunately Ben is a mediocre author, and his editor needs to find another line of work.

This book is like countless "how to be a leader" books on the market, and says a lot of the same things. Only this time you get it from the perspective of a guy flailing to build a silicon valley startup to a point where he can unload it on some unsuspecting buyer and walk away with enough money to retire at 35, on the backs of the poor schlubs who wrote the code that got him there in the faint hope they'd get rich too. That's an interesting perspective, and one that says a lot about silicon valley, the venture capital culture, and the business world in general.

The problems with this book are many, however. First, most of the advice is retread, stuff you can find in a lot of other books on leadership. More importantly, however is the seemingly random organization. It doesn't adhere to a chronological flow, or a logical structured flow -- either would have been a fine choice. It seems to be mostly stream-of-consciousness -- like someone just transcribed their notes from their beside table notepad. It never seems to go from point A to point B. And it rehashes the same stories over and over. I get it, you managed to dump part of your losing business on EDS, a miracle coup, and then build up what was left into something you managed to stick HP with. It's hard to decide which is more painful, the repeating of these stories time and again, or the smug attitude about how he miraculously sold these major corporations a bill of goods for millions.

But even that aside, there are two affectations in this book that make it a painful read. Each chapter/section begins with some random quote from a rap/hip-hop music lyric. Most of those have literally nothing to do with the following material and feel just painfully tone deaf. It's only compounded by the fact that it's a british white guy quoting Kanye West .. ?? And the constant referral to the CEO as a "she" is just painful. It's so blatant, I found I spent most of the book wondering whether it was all "he" to begin with and the editor just did a "search and replace" or if the author was trying to be so PC that he strained to make every example a "she". Either way, it's just painful -- almost like he's talking down to potential women CEOs, and it eventually becomes insulting.

Finally, there's the title, which simply has nothing to do with the contents of the book. Yes, there's lots of good and valuable advice about being a leader and a CEO. But the presentation is so flawed as to make it not worth the effort. My advice to readers is to search out any number of other books on leadership and leave this one to fester on the shelves.
58 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Great stories and history. Some hits and misses on advice, usability. Disingenuous use of "she." 25 mars 2014
Par M. Donnelly - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
As someone who spent 20+ years in Silicon Valley, including both the dotcom boom and bust eras, I felt Ben's pain when I read this book. When the valley was flying high, it was really high. Spending was ridiculous. There was nothing "Lean" going on in start-ups. Money flowed like tap water...and went down the drain in much the same way. And then the bubble burst. Chaos and calamity was rampant.

Ben Horowitz not only weathered the storm, but he went public instead of going bankrupt. He turned a low of $0.37 a share into a $1.6B sale to HP. His stories of what he and the team went through, the excruciating decisions he had to make, and how he ended up winning (buying a company in order to keep a $20M deal with EDS)...an exceptional story.

So, the question is, how does his experience apply to those of us who are struggling with our own tech start-ups? While some of the advice was a bit preachy, what I like about Ben's advice is the brilliance of thought behind it. For instance, the Freaky Friday strategy. His Sales Engineering and Customer Service teams were at war. His flash of brilliance came from watching a movie on TV. He decided to permanently swap the responsibilities of the leads of the two organizations. What resulted was a fast understanding of the OTHER guy's issues...and a quick path to a mutually designed, collaborative solution. Brilliant.

Other pieces of advice flow to the heart of leadership. He has defined the job of the CEO and distilled it down to the essence of the job--for instance, making decisions in absence of all the data, having the courage to stand behind and in front of your decision, and being able to sell others on your decisions. Yes, there's much more to it than he flippantly states; but in essence, his success and his ballsy moves in the face of failure...I'll bite. However, is the advice really USEFUL? Can a leader in a company (or someone who aspires to be a leader in a business) really learn from lessons and advice in this book?

In this book, Ben put his thought processes on paper. Some were successful at teaching, including the process of screening and hiring a critical role--the VP of Sales. That concrete example was the most relevant--and potentially most critical--to those who are trying to glean lessons from this book. But for me, I just enjoyed the ability to delve into to the mind of a Valley vet who built something from nothing. His decision to sell LoudCloud and move to productizing Opsware was a lesson in understanding when it's time to pivot and how to get it done.

The one thing that just didn't ring true was Ben's use of the pronoun 'she' in describing a CEO's role and challenges. There was a recent article in Business Week that hit the nail on the head. In writing about a company and about experiences in the trenches where there were few--if any--women in top roles, it was a bit disingenuous to use 'she' when describing the leadership roles and practices. It just didn't ring true to me, and as a woman who has worked in male-dominated industries (including Telecom), I found that single slant to be a really weak attempt to be politically correct. I'd rather that Horowitz be real...it worked in the rest of the writing of his book.

All in all, I give THe Hard Thing About Hard Things a thumbs up. Enjoyable read, some flashes of brilliance, and some great stories. As a veteran of a start-up with a successful exit, I know how excruciating it can be. Making it out the other end in one piece (and in triumph), now that's a STORY.
322 internautes sur 386 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Lonely At the Top 24 mars 2014
Par Kevin L. Nenstiel - Publié sur Amazon.com
I knew this hybrid memoir and advice manual was different on page 20, when Horowitz writes: "We finished the third quarter of 2000 with $37 million in bookings--not the $100 million that we had forecast." These numbers are so huge, they sound fictional. His massive inter-business contracts and repeated fiscal brinksmanship resemble Jack Ryan adventures. I wondered how they'd reach neighborhood entrepreneurs seeking $30,000 for rent and payroll.

Then I realized: this business book sounds different because it is different. Some books aim for middle managers, people with limited authority but little power, and others offer moral framework without strategic guidance. Horowitz writes for CEOs, division heads, and other top-rank executives who make powerful decisions in essential isolation. Horowitz' intended audience has probably read innumerable books about how business should work; he illustrates how business really works.

That's good and bad. CEOs, venture capital entrepreneurs, and other soaring-eagle outliers are probably an underserved market. Middle managers generally have in-house mentors and have so many books written for them, they could get bulk-buying discounts at Books-A-Million. CEOs frequently have to re-invent the wheel, because only a handful ever exist at Horowitz's level. Horowitz steps into the mentor role, dispensing hard-won advice when every decision costs millions of dollars.

But CEOs at Horowitz's level remain rare for good reason. When he describes selling his corporation to a competitor, but retaining intellectual property rights, which he leases out for $30 million annually, he clearly operates a business model that only functions among the One Percent. Could you sell anything you made, but still own it, and license it back to your buyer? Unless you're a software cartel, everybody knows your answer.

Horowitz goes, with shocking haste, from saying something reasonable and necessary, to something so frankly stupid, I wonder if he's listening to himself. For instance, he discusses the CEO's importance in creating business culture. Managers should train their own workers at all levels, he says, including CEOs, because hands-on involvement optimizes productivity and employee retention. Essentially, Horowitz wants leaders to lead, not delegate glamorless basics onto subordinates. Huzzah!

Then he concedes business models so lopsided, even this English teacher turned forklift driver wondered how he could be so tone-deaf. Horowitz entered the tech startup business after the 2000 NASDAQ collapse Roto-Rootered the tech stock sector. He clearly thinks this makes him a bold maverick. Maybe. But his company, Loudcloud, made only one product, which only international mega-corporations and governments could afford. That's a weak foundation for an IPO.

Horowitz repeatedly discusses needing enterprise capital at Defense Department levels, then admits concentrating hundred-million-dollar ventures on only one customer. When that customer takes a $30 million bath, Horowitz must scramble for replacement finance. And I repeatedly pull my beard, screaming: "Diversify, dangit! You have one product, one customer, and one revenue stream; you're a deathtrap waiting to happen!"

Seriously. If naifs like me are catcalling your business model, you're in deep sewage.

Perhaps you've noticed my praise for Horowitz's book is vague, sweeping, and global. My condemnation runs very specific and detailed. There's a reason for that. Horowitz propounds principles I find downright admirable; but when the rubber meets the road, he doesn't honor his own precepts. His doctrines are bold, jargon-free, and exciting. His actions give me the willies. I don't know how to reconcile the gap.

I tried my best to like this book. Horowitz hides little moments of surprising candor and self-awareness like Easter eggs, and I briefly suspect he understands something other business writers miss. Then he apparently fails to notice the gaps between his precepts and his actions, or says something that makes me want a shower. Sadly, I think the rich are just different.
255 internautes sur 321 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Irrelevant to 99% of Entrepreneurs 10 mars 2014
Par Whippet - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
Horowitz writes for startup CEOs who raise $20 or $40 million from top VCs. His own history, recounted in the book, shows just how irrelevant his own experience is to 99.9% of entrepreneurs.

This is a book for CEOs of VC-controlled startups. Its lessons are unlikely to apply to real businesses owned by--funded by--real entrepreneurs.

What makes sense for High Finance Entrepreneurship is usually suicidal for 99% of real businesses. VCs make their money by funding and promoting aggressively, and they don't care about losses. That's a luxury Main Street entrepreneurs cannot afford.

Finally, I would urge readers to be cautious of any advice given by a VC. It's typically self-serving and cannot be trusted.

I highly recommend spending time reading Michael Church's essays on VCs and VC-backed startups.

We're in Bubble 2.0. Guys like Horowitz become celebs so long as the bubble lasts.

In five years I cannot imagine this flimsy book being bought by anyone.

My background: I've been a VC and led two VC-backed software companies. Multiple exits, high IRRs.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Don't read/buy the book if you are already familiar with Ben Horowitz's blog and ideas. The book adds nothing new. 9 avril 2014
Par Kiko Mello - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
Why Buy It?

Its cool to have this item on your shelf. He's a famous guy in the startup world, the book is neat and collects all his major posts (Ben's Blog).

Why Not Buy It?

IMHO, there is absolutely nothing new in terms of content relative to his blog. So there is absolutely NO reason for you to pay 10 bucks (kindle edition) to re-read his best stuff; afterall, he himself chose to publish it all for free.

The biographical part, where he could have definitely added a bunch of new stuff/perspectives to people who admire him, is very short and tells very little about the stories of the companies where Ben has worked: few events are narrated in detail.

If you are interested in what is useful about Ben`s insights on management, read the posts below - they were basically reproduced to the letter on the book - in 10 minutes:

Programming Your Culture
Old People
One on One
Demoting A Loyal Friend
A Good Place to Work
The Freaky Friday Management Technique
Management Debt
Preparing To Fire an Executive
When Employees Misinterpret Managers
Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO
Titles and Promotions

Apart from that, I found the tone a bit off, as in "people sometimes regard me as a management guru" or something. Pointless and not worth it.

PS: My grading, of two stars, reviews the BOOK, the merit of him publishing a book on top of his public, free blog. I would rate his ideas 4-star, and his hip-hop lyric-quoting 5-star.
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