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Horowitz: The Most Important Quality In An Entrepreneur Is Not Honesty Or Integrity

Ben Horowitz, a founding partner of Silicon Valley powerhouse venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, made an interesting point at the DLD conference yesterday.

Horowitz was running through the factors that make a great investment.

One of those factors is "the team"--or, more specifically, the entrepreneur.

Horowitz says the entrepreneur is vastly more important than the idea--because if an idea is lousy, a great entrepreneur will see that quickly and then change the idea. Horowitz ran through several examples of this, which included PayPal, Google, and other massive home runs.

Great entrepreneurs, Horowitz said, have two key qualities:

* Brilliance

* Courage

The reason for the first one is obvious.

The reason for the second one, Horowitz says, is that the other virtues that everyone wants to see in successful people--honesty, integrity, etc.--all flow from courage. And if you don't have courage, in times of stress, honesty, integrity, and other virtues can quickly go by the wayside.

Specifically, Horowitz says, if you don't have courage, you won't be honest when being honest will hurt you (when the idea that you've staked your company and reputation on turns out to be lousy, for example).

And if you don't have courage, you won't have the guts to walk away from a good, safe opportunity to pursue an opportunity that most people think is crazy.

As an example of this, Horowitz pointed to Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, both of whom dropped out of Harvard, and Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, who dropped out of other colleges.

All four men were on tracks that would lead to success.

And they all walked away.

In hindsight, that looks easy to do--an obvious decision.

At the time, it was likely anything but.

So in addition to brilliance, Ben Horowitz says, Andreessen Horowitz looks for entrepreneurs who have courage.