Ben Horowitz is Down with Rap

Ben Horowitz, a successful venture capitalist, is teaching business using an unlikely medium: rap. Horowitz’s blog, which has become increasingly popular among his Silicon Valley community, begins each lesson with a rap lyric. He says that rap helps him connect emotionally to the topics at hand. And many would do well to listen to the man who has made mega bucks on investments in companies like Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN), Skype (NASDAQ:MSFT), and in the near future, Facebook.

Though the often obscene rap lyrics might lead one to believe that Horowitz’s blog posts are comic fodder, the successful businessman actually uses them to tackle such serious topics such as management techniques, firing executives, and current events in the business world. The New York Times quotes Horowitz as saying, “All the management books are like, ‘This is how you set objectives, this is how you set up an org chart,’ but that’s all the easy part of management. The hard part is how you feel. Rap helps me connect emotionally.”

Adam Bradley — a professor of African-American Literature at the University of Colorado in Boulder who wrote “Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop” and co-edited “The Anthology of Rap” — totally gets what Horowitz is saying. Bradley told the Times that, although many people assume rap songs to be about women, sex, money, and drugs, there are actually themes of business, leadership, and vulnerability. “It comes out of the fact that rap is such a direct mode of expression, maybe more so than any other music lyric, because of the emphasis on language, of words above melody or harmony,” Bradley said.

Horowitz says he’s shared his rap inspirations with other employees and co-workers and has seen results. He told the Times about one employee that was dealing with an issue and he simply suggested a song for him to listen to. “I couldn’t have explained what I was talking about quite right, but he called and said, ‘I’ve been listening to that song every day, and everything is better.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ashley Cloninger at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at