Ben Horowitz MS ’90, co-founder and general partner of Silicon Valley venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz, spoke to nearly 500 UCLA students at Ackerman Grand Ballroom. The event was the fourth and final program of the year in the inaugural Ronald and Valerie Sugar Distinguished Speaker Series.

Horowitz and Marc Andreessen founded the firm that bears their name in 2009. Also known as a16z, the company has invested in some of the biggest and most influential technology companies of the past decade, such as Airbnb, Facebook, GitHub, Lyft, Pinterest, Skype and Twitter, among many others.

Horowitz noted there’s one particular quality they want to see in a company that they’re going to invest in.

“What we look for in a pitch: ‘What do you know that nobody else knows?’” he said.

Horowitz is also a prolific blogger and podcaster, writing on company culture and technology at a16z.com. His book, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers,” was a New York Times Bestseller. And he’s on Twitter, with a verified account of more than 369,000 followers.

Horowitz offered advice for the aspiring entrepreneurs and tech leaders in the audience on the types of employees to bring into the company.

“You need to hire the person who will be great at what you need them to be great at,” he said – despite other potential flaws.

Prior to a16z, Horowitz  was cofounder and CEO of Opsware (formerly Loudcloud), an enterprise software company that was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2007 for $1.6 billion.

Prior to Opsware, Horowitz held leadership roles at AOL and at Netscape Communications.

The program was hosted by Krisztina “Z” Holly, the host of “The Art of Manufacturing” podcast and the founder of L.A. Mayor Garcetti’s MAKE IT IN LA initiative.

Photo: Ben Horowitz
Photo by Todd Cheney/UCLA