Dan Rose Profile picture
Feb 18, 2021 12 tweets 3 min read
People often ask me to compare working for Bezos vs Zuck. I worked with Mark much more closely for much longer, but I did work directly with Jeff in my last 2 years at Amazon incubating the Kindle. Here are some thoughts on similarities that make them both generational leaders:
Jeff was 30 yrs old when he started Amzn, and he was 35 by the time I joined in '99. Mark started FB at 19 yrs old and was 22 when I joined in '06 (and is now 36!). After I joined FB, I shared with Mark that I thought he most closely resembled Jeff among all the tech founders.
They both lived in the future and saw around corners, always thinking years/decades ahead. And at the same time, they were both obsessive over the tiniest product and design details. They could go from 30,000 feet to 3 feet in a split second.
In the best tech companies, product defines strategy and culture. Jeff and Mark were both product CEOs first and foremost (though Jeff is arguably more commercial). Amazon and Facebook’s products are also an embodiment of Jeff and Mark’s individual personalities and values.
Neither of them would ever dwell on success. Every time I took a hill and looked up to celebrate, Jeff or Mark had already moved on to the next hill. They set unrealistic goals and were insanely intense, disciplined, hard working and hard driving.
At the same time, they each had a great sense of humor (albeit with very different styles). When you're working tirelessly and driving people really hard, it's important to break it up with occasional bouts of levity. I laughed a lot around them.
Both of them engendered profound loyalty from their teams. The senior folks at Amazon & Facebook have been there for a very long time, mostly because they couldn't imagine working for anyone else. When you get to learn from one of the greatest, it's hard to leave.
They were both incredibly deep thinkers and read voraciously. I've participated in small group conversations with each of them (eg on airplanes) lasting hours where they would ask endless questions and have more stamina than anyone else. Great leaders have deep-seated curiosity.
The skill set required to start a company is insanely different than being CEO of a mega corporation. Scaling of this magnitude requires tireless commitment, crazy focus, thick skin, unbridled ambition. You have to be a learning machine, constantly growing and pushing yourself.
Their personalities are obviously quite different. Jeff is gregarious with his big laugh and well-honed stories. Mark is more quiet, gracious, kind; sometimes a bit awkward but always authentic. When Jeff is unhappy he will throw you out of the room; Mark simply ends the meeting.
The cultures they built are also very different. Amzn is more siloed/secretive, while FB is radically open/transparent. There are pros and cons to each (which I will cover in a future post), but culture at both companies runs deep and is rooted in the values of the founder.
I feel fortunate to have worked for two of the greatest founders in history. I sponged knowledge and rode each of their coattails as they built iconic companies. One of things I most enjoy now about being in venture capital is sharing what I learned from Jeff & Mark with others.

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More from @DanRose999

Nov 20
I love to read autobiographies of people who started iconic companies. I was fortunate to work for Zuck and Bezos as their origin stories were still being written, and it's fun to pattern match against other founders. Here’s a list of some of my favorite business biographies:
1/ The Autobiography of a Founder: It’s one thing to be a great founder, it's another thing entirely to write a compelling book about your life and your company's origin story. Each of these iconic CEO’s wrote amazing autobiographies:
Sam Walton wrote an autobiography shortly before he died, and it's so good I’ve read it twice. When Walmart sued Amazon in the 90s for poaching executives, Bezos quoted from Sam’s book in his defense :-)
amazon.com/gp/product/055…
Read 21 tweets
Oct 2
The best tech companies drive strategy through product. This is why founders and CEOs tend to be product leaders, and product / design / engineering is more important than ops / marketing / finance. Here’s what this looked like for me as a business leader at Amzn and Facebook:
Jeff and Mark were very different, but both of them spent most of their time in product meetings, and they both scrutinized product ideas down to the pixel. They didn’t waste cycles debating strategy in the abstract, they drove it via the roadmap. They never hired consultants.
Everyone in the company understood the strategy because it showed up in the product’s evolution. There was no need for long slide decks explaining where the company was going. Company all-hands meetings simply focused on the product roadmap. Our product leaders were the stars.
Read 8 tweets
Sep 8
When I first started out in my career, I thought I had to “fake it until you make it.” Later I learned to ask questions and embrace situations where I didn’t have all the answers. Here's how I went from being an insecure manager to a more honest leader:
Amazon was my first real job, and I found myself surrounded by brilliant people with strong opinions. Everyone seemed to know exactly what they were talking about, and Jeff Bezos was the smartest person in the room. It felt to me like a culture where the strongest survived.
In that environment, I thought I needed to project confidence. For example, after a promotion to merchandising manager, I was asked about my forecast for gross margin vs contribution margin. I barely understood these concepts at the time, yet I pretended to have clear answers.
Read 18 tweets
Jul 22
In the early days of Facebook, people wondered how we would make money. The obvious answer would have been the wrong answer. Here’s how we landed on the non-obvious right answer, and transformed the advertising industry in the process:
We ran banner ads in the right-hand column of Facebook.com to generate some revenue in the early days of the company. Banner ads were the standard way to monetize media properties at that time, and most people assumed that’s how FB would monetize long-term.
Advertisers loved banner ads because the format was standardized across the web. This is why Yahoo, AOL, MSN, MySpace and every other digital media property sold banners. It was easy for advertisers to create and syndicate their ads, and it scaled with publishers' page views.
Read 21 tweets
Jul 6
My partners @carynm650 and @DavidCahn6 published an article to help founders navigate this downturn. Here’s a thread summarizing our framework for the 4 Quadrants of Startup Success:
caryn-marooney.medium.com/4-quadrants-of…
This is a simple 2x2 matrix with Cash/Runway on one axis and Product Market Fit on the other. Our advice for founders depends on where they sit on this matrix: 1) Healthy, 2) Survivor, 3) Explorer, 4) Danger Zone. Here’s a summary of each quadrant:
1/Healthy co's have a product that’s working in a valuable market, and enough cash for 3-4 yrs before raising. 3-4 yrs of runway is the new 2 yrs, because you want to raise 12 months before cash-out and you don’t want to be raising in 1 year if we’re in the middle of a recession.
Read 19 tweets
May 4
I was at Amzn early '00s when we lost 95% of our market cap. Later at FB I negotiated a down-round in '09, and then in '12 our stock dropped 50% post-IPO. I was on the board of a public company that went bankrupt (Borders) and a start-up that went under (Hello). Some lessons:
1/Raise capital when you can, not when you need it. Amzn tapped convert debt in Feb '00 - if we had waited another month we would not have survived. 9 years later at FB we raised a 33% down-round despite having plenty of runway. Don’t wait until your back is up against the wall Image
2/Cash is king. Forget about valuation, dilution, etc - if you run out of cash, none of it matters. Borders used its free cash flow to buy back stock for yrs, ignoring the internet. By the time a PE firm fired the board and asked me to join in ‘09, we had no runway for turnaround
Read 12 tweets

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