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[Marc] was Beyonce and I was Kelly Rowland. ~ Ben Horowitz in "The Rules of Pitching to A16Z and Why We Invested in Rap Genius"

Stashed in: Founders, Marc Andreessen, @a16z, startup, Beyonce!, Rap Genius, Rap Genius

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In this interview on the Rap Genius website, Ben Horowitz explains what he looks for in founders and why the Rap Genius founders are awesome:

On why his firm, “A16Z”, had to be Andreessen Horowitz:

It had to be Andreessen Horowitz and Andreessen had to come first Marc had all the name recognition. He was Beyonce and I was Kelly Rowland.


On pitching at Andreessen Horowitz:

If anybody is not on time I will fine them $10 a minute.

That comes from my experience as an entrepreneur. When you are an entrepreneur you are living and dying with your company. You are working extremely hard and the last thing you need to do with your time is to sit in the lobby of a venture capital office.

We are going to be listening to you. I also hold that in high regard. Anybody who doesn’t do that is fined $100 per use [an iPhone or Android device].

You will start with your background. Where did you grow up? How did you get to this point? How did you come onto this idea? Where did your co-founders grow up? Why are you guys working together?


On what he is looking for with those questions:

One is the nature of the idea. What is the founder-market fit? Is this something where you would die if you couldn’t build this company because you just have to do it. You don’t just want to do it. You have to do it.

Or is this something like, ‘Oh, all my friends are starting up companies. I can start up a company and I came up with this great thing. It’s Airbnb for pets.’ Or whatever. (laughing) That was probably a good idea.

Were you looking for an idea or have you lived your life with this problem and you had to solve it. And you had to solve it for the world.

Not many of the people we invest in would be considered to have high management skills. But I am looking for leadership.


On why he backed Rap Genius:

The Rap Genius guys I met with a few times before I brought them in front of the partners, because, um, they’re differentThey all have very impressive degrees but a very unusual character.

[One is a Stanford law gradAnother was a math major who got a job as a programmer at the investment firm of D.E. Shaw.] That’s one of the hardest jobs to get in the math world.

[The third one was a writer on the HBO western series “Deadwood,”] which is maybe the greatest written television show of all time.

The thing that really made it great wasn’t that they were annotating lyrics. They were doing the definitive canonical explanation of every rap lyric ever written. That’s just amazingly hard to do. You are getting into incredible depths of the culture.

Rap Genius correctly figured out very odd things, like a Jay Z lyric that says,“It's the dream team, meets the Supreme Team and all our eyes green. It only means one thing.”

It’s a double entendre. One thing he’s talking about when he says ‘all our eyes green,’ is like as in money being green. The other thing is that there is a drug dealer named Supreme, who has green eyes and is very famous. Rap Genius got that nailed with a picture of Supreme and the whole thing.

They came up with the right answers on a huge body of work by building a community and building a technology platform that drew from scholars in the community.


To me it’s not just about rap genius. It’s the Talmud of the Internet. It’s the explanation of everything that is going on.

If he can compare Marc Andreessen to Beyonce, then comparing Rap Genius to the Talmud is not far fetched.


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