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

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:
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
Apr 3
In a full day of interviews at Amazon in 1999, I met 3 people who would go on to shape the internet: Andy Jassy built AWS and is now Amazon's CEO, Leslie Kilgore built Netflix and joined their board, Ram Shriram seeded Google and joined their board. Here’s what happened that day:
I was in my first year at University of Michigan Business School and had hustled my way into interviews for a summer internship at Amazon.

I knew Amazon only recruited from Harvard and Stanford, so when I was introduced through a family friend to a marketing manager named Andy Jassy I begged him for an interview. He passed me off to the recruiting team who didn’t return my calls. But I was persistent.
Read 17 tweets
Jan 24
Great CEOs are willing to declare war when necessary. Great executives find creative ways to achieve the CEO’s goals without going to war. Here’s how I brokered the peace for Bezos and Zuck:
My job at Amazon in 2004 was to secure 100k digital book titles for the eventual v1 launch of Kindle. But my efforts fell on deaf ears with book publishers who viewed eBooks as a waste of time. They couldn’t understand why I was being so persistent.
Back in Seattle we were working in secret on the Kindle, but Jeff wouldn’t let me share our device plans with publishers because he was worried they would leak to the press and deflate our big launch. So I tap-danced my way through NY every few weeks with a new pitch.
Read 20 tweets
Jan 2
In 2006 I was meeting with Jeff Bezos to discuss acquiring Audible when he described their founder Don Katz as “a missionary, not a mercenary.” I later learned Jeff got this framing from John Doerr, and it struck me as a good distinction when evaluating people. Here's a 🧵:
Most great founders are missionaries. Starting a company requires a level of commitment that lends itself to missionary zeal. Of course some founders are primarily motivated by money, but mercenary founders tend not to build lasting companies, opting instead for a quicker exit.
Missionary founders also care about making money, but they are primarily motivated by a higher calling. The mission of the company means something to them in their bones. They truly believe in serving their customers, improving people's lives, putting a "dent in the universe."
Read 15 tweets

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