What the best VCs and entrepreneurs should expect from each other

From an interview with Mark Andreessen:

There’s a whole bunch of theories on how to build tech companies. A key one that we have is that it’s a long-term exercise. There’s nothing short-term about it. There’s nothing transactional about it.

It’s finding the very, very special entrepreneurs and business builders. It’s backing them to the hilt, and it’s backing them through very difficult times. Every new company goes through tremendous challenges. Ask any entrepreneur in the Valley how their company’s going. “Oh, it’s going great. Everything’s fine.” But internally they’re always about to throw up. Because there’s always something going wrong. Some key employee is about to quit, or some new competitor has popped up, or some product has slipped, or some customer is suing you, or some crazy thing is happening. There’s nothing easy about building a business.

And then you have to have a long time horizon. The great franchises get built over 10, 15, and 20 years. And the really great franchises like Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle get built over 40 or 50 years. We just look at the history of the industry, and the companies that have had all the impact are the ones that had this kind of orientation. They had a founder, typically the founder running the company for decades, typically a real commitment to innovation, to R&D, which requires a very long time horizon. And they either had supportive investors, or they figured out how to force the nonsupportive ones out. And so we think there is a model for how to do this.

…One of the things we try really hard to do is only back founders who have a long-term mentality. If they come in and have a slide that says, “Exit strategy, M&A,” whatever, we don’t invest.

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