Episode 503 of the a16z podcast, The Stories and Code of Culture Change, is a great overview of Horowitz’s book, You Are What You Do, and features some highly memorable (and hilariously violent) stories that illustrate what culture is, and some ways you might build it.
Here he is on the relative importance of culture and product:
Let’s not get confused about one thing. You can have a great culture, and you build a product that people don’t want, you’re company’s going out of business… The product has to work for you to have a business.
But having said that, the most important thing about your company isn’t necessarily going to be the success or the deals you won or the customers you had. It’s gonna be what that time was like, that time of your life and the life of all the employees who spent most of their waking hours with you at your company. What did that feel like? How did you treat each other? How did you treat the people you worked with? Did everybody’s lives get better, did they become better people or worse people?
And that’s your culture. So that’s a real thing with incredible value, so I don’t want to say that just because you can’t succeed through culture alone doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly important.Ben Horowitz – a16z podcast ep 503