The Hard Things About Scaling: Executive Hiring with Ben Horowitz and Ali Ghodsi

The holy grail of company building is finding product-market fit. But what most people don’t tell you is that once you’ve found it, product-market fit brings its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to scaling rapidly and hiring the right executives at the right time.

Drawing from their extensive experiences, a16z cofounder Ben Horowitz and Databricks cofounder and CEO Ali Ghodsi sit down to talk about the hardest things about executive hiring and firing, and what is at stake.

They dive into the common reasons an exec fails, why sometimes micromanagement is a good idea, and the difference between someone who has written a playbook and someone who has only run one.

If you’d like to dive even deeper, the Growth team at a16z has spent the last year compiling insights from dozens of leaders at late-stage startups to literally write the book on hiring executives to scale. You can find that book at:

Topics Covered:

00:00 – When is it time to let someone go?

05:41 – When do you give someone a chance to grow into the role?

07:05-  Let go or level?

09:27 – How do you have the tough conversation? 

16:39 – Exit packages

18:40 – Setting a new leader up for success

24:27 – The importance of the first quick win 

26:24 – The impact a new leader has on culture

32:52 – Common ways new leaders fail

37:35 – Closing thoughts


Read the Executive Hiring: The Key to Scaling in the Growth Stages:

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Please note that the content here is for informational purposes only; should NOT be taken as legal, business, tax, or investment advice or be used to evaluate any investment or security; and is not directed at any investors or potential investors in any a16z fund. For more details please see