This book is an easy read if you like heart-stopping entrepreneurial tales of survival against almost paralyzing odds. The first half of the book reads really fast- it's the author's breathtaking account of his leading Loudcloud and Opsware as CEO during the 90's and surviving the 2000's-era dot com bust by going public when all his competitors were filing for bankruptcy. The second half of the book is a compendium of "what to do in these specific scenarios", and takes a bit longer to get through.
It's a managament book written by an unconventional (rap-loving) CEO, Ben Horowitz, who found a lot of books in the genre waxing eloquently about what to do when everything is going well. When things are going haywire around you, though, you need to know you're not crazy for not having those neatly packaged scenarios management gurus write about.
For example, what do you do when employees bicker about job titles, when they ask you if you're going to sell the company, when your best employee tries to leverage a job offer from another company for a raise when you only do yearly reviews and you need her pay to stay around her colleagues wages, when you hire your friends and they don't adjust to the growth of your business, when two departments hate each other, yet have to work together to get a product out under a tight deadline. There are tons of scenarios where he provides the logic he used to walk himsef through his decisions. The C-suite is a lonely place because you always have to look confident, you can't confide safely in many people, good mentors with real character are few and far between, and Silicon Valley culture doesn't have a space for getting emotional or vulnerable when you're waking up sweating from nightmares about laying off three quarters of your workforce.
Obviously, as an Enneagrammer, I'm going to say that it's a pity he doesn't know the Enneagram so he doesn't waste a bunch of pages trying to come up with really bad Type A vs Type B CEO descriptions- categories that don't ring true as personality types.
Not many other critiques. I'm an avid armchair entrepreneur, and it seems like he fairly well reflects the stressful, gritty, competitive, and head-spinning pace of Silicon Valley.
If you are interested in running your own company one day, or are already in management, this book is a rush. He does a great job of proving the point that the hardest thing about running a company is managing the people.