Ben Horowitz, co-founder of of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, talked recently about Mark Zuckerberg’s early challenges as CEO of Facebook. Being founder of the company did not necessarily mean that Zuckerberg was automatically well-qualified to be a CEO right out of the gate. Coding a website and running a multi-million dollar company are require quite different skill sets.
Horowitz tells the tale:
I think the story that nobody talks about with Facebook, they all… The neat way to talk about it is oh, you know, you had Mark and then you had Sheryl and then like he was a good CEO; that’s not actually kind of how it happened and that like when he started out, he was like not a very good CEO and like, in fact, it was at like (Valiware?), it was everyday they’d write like we demand Mark Zuckerberg steps down as CEO from Facebook, he’s incompetent; what actually happened was, he learned how to do the job.
When he started out as the CEO of Facebook, Facebook grew very fast, he had very senior people reporting to them and he hadn’t had any experience with that, he hadn’t worked at a company, let alone run one but he was learning; and over time he learned how to do the job, he then hired better executives, one of which… The most important of which was Sheryl, but he also became a much better CEO.
Founder CEOs really don’t know how to be a CEO but that doesn’t mean that they can’t learn and it doesn’t mean that like, you know, all professionals went up that learning curve somehow, someway, at some point, and the question is like can that founder learn that job and can you tolerate all the mistakes they’re gonna make while they’re learning it.
Yeah. It’s easier to follow on video. But, not by much.