The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
Book by tech CEO and venture capitalist, founder of the Andreessen-Horowitz VC firm. The first part tells the story of his role as CEO of Loudcloud and Opsware. His company ran into trouble during the dot-com crash, yet his quick and creative decision making saved the company from bankruptcy and he managed to things around, selling to HP for a handsome profit.
The rest of the book is a series of brief tips directed towards CEOs of large companies. The CEO experience is stressful, oftentimes it feels like the company is on the verge of collapse, and nobody has the answers for you; the best you can do is stay alive for as long as you can, and eventually you might get lucky. Take advice from many people, communicate honestly about the bad situation without hiding the truth, but make decisions by yourself and with resolve.
When hiring executives, it’s better to hire for strengths rather than lack of weaknesses, otherwise you will get a mediocre result. Look for people who are ambitious for the company, and not take too much credit for themselves. The CEO must define clear goals and processes to avoid politics among management and so that everyone can focus on doing their best work.
Overall, most of the advice is sensible although a lot of it seems like common sense. I don’t like the short chapters style: there are about 50 chapters with around 5 pages each, so it switches topics rapidly. The chapters don’t transition smoothly to the next, and many chapters overlap with previous chapters, making the writing feel somewhat disorganized. The author also doesn’t talk much about VCs and startups which he’s probably most well known for; most of the advice assumes your company is already quite big with multiple C-level executives.