A successful Silicon Valley businessman’s rise to prominence is unique in that he eschews typical tactics used to inform those in his field and instead, relies on Hip Hop music to make many of his business decisions. Further, Ben Horowitz uses rap lyrics to speak for him in times where he isn’t able to articulate his ideas, creating a new paradigm in the high stakes world of tech investment.
“All the management books are like, ‘This is how you set objectives, this is how you set up an org chart,’ but that’s all the easy part of management,” said Horowitz, co-founder of software company Opsware, along with Netscape creator Marc Andreessen. in an interview with the New York Times. “The hard part is how you feel. Rap helps me connect emotionally.”
Horowitz and Andreessen have both since moved from selling the Opsware company for $1.6 billion dollars in 2007 to starting venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in 2009. The pair made tons of money investing in startups such as Groupon and Skype, and they plan to make more power moves in the coming months. Quoting rapper Kanye West’s “Stronger” as the inspiration needed to make the sale of Opsware to tech giant Hewlett-Packard, Horowitz strikes a most curious balance between the world of rap and business by melding the two to his personal needs.
Born in London in 1966, Horowitz became a fan of the music in the early 80s as a player on the Berkeley High football team. In his popular business blog, he often leads off his posts with a rap or music lyric that forms the impetus of the writing that follows. And it seems he’s not just posing either; he named Rakim as the greatest rapper of all time, an opinion held by many reared in Hip-Hop.
Also highlighted in the Times interview is an instance where Horowitz had to use a song from west coast vet The Game, “Scream On Em,” to make his point to a fellow business executive instead of employing jargon.
“I couldn’t have explained what I was talking about quite right, but he called and said, ‘I’ve been listening to that song every day, and everything is better,” said Horowitz of the exchange.