Andrew Chen Archives

Subscribe · Featured · Recent · The Cold Start Problem 📘
Dear readers, I have moved to Substack and I will be writing here from now on:
In the meantime, I will leave up for posterity. Enjoy!

My friend Noah and his $100M lesson after being fired from Facebook

Recently one of my best friends, Noah Kagan, wrote a brave and detailed story around how he was hired as Facebook employee #30, then fired soon after. He didn’t collect any stock options and thus wasn’t part of the big windfall after the IPO. There are some really great lessons in there that I think that everyone should learn. Very much worth reading, and I wish more folks would share their struggle like that.

I wanted to add one little bit to to this story, of what happened after.

I met Noah almost 10 years ago at a BBQ via some college friends. From my first 5 minutes of meeting him, my first thoughts were: man, this guy is a hustler. I thought that whether it was now or later, he would go on to do something great- he was just off the charts in some very positive areas, but also frankly, a little strange in others.

It reminds me of a famous quote: “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.”

We kept in touch for many years, and I’d call him up whenever I was down in the Bay Area, and followed his experience at Facebook. He loved that place, but felt every sense for boredom and struggle that he describes in his blog post. Noah had no doubt that Facebook would eventually become a tremendous success, but also struggled as the company grew.

I got the bad news right away. I talked to him soon after he was let go – maybe the day of, or the day after – I remember telling Noah that he had learned a very important lesson from the experience. I said, “You’re fundamentally unemployable, but that’s a good thing. Now go start a company.

It took him a few years to get going on that, but once he started, there was no turning back.

Many entrepreneurs are a little crazy. That’s a good thing. Some of us can’t do anything else, and can’t take a normal job- and if we did try to take one, no matter how good of a situation it is, we’d blow it up. I think having an experience like the one that Noah had at Facebook teaches a lot of different things- not just who we are, but also who we’re not. It’s lucky, in my opinion, that he had such a pivotal experience so early in his career. It means that he’s free, for the rest of his life, to pursue who he really wants to be. Everyone should share that kind of experience, though obviously we’d all like it to be less expensive than what Noah went through :)


PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.

Views expressed in “content” (including posts, podcasts, videos) linked on this website or posted in social media and other platforms (collectively, “content distribution outlets”) are my own and are not the views of AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) or its respective affiliates. AH Capital Management is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply any special skill or training. The posts are not directed to any investors or potential investors, and do not constitute an offer to sell -- or a solicitation of an offer to buy -- any securities, and may not be used or relied upon in evaluating the merits of any investment.

The content should not be construed as or relied upon in any manner as investment, legal, tax, or other advice. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Any charts provided here are for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, I have not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. The content speaks only as of the date indicated.

Under no circumstances should any posts or other information provided on this website -- or on associated content distribution outlets -- be construed as an offer soliciting the purchase or sale of any security or interest in any pooled investment vehicle sponsored, discussed, or mentioned by a16z personnel. Nor should it be construed as an offer to provide investment advisory services; an offer to invest in an a16z-managed pooled investment vehicle will be made separately and only by means of the confidential offering documents of the specific pooled investment vehicles -- which should be read in their entirety, and only to those who, among other requirements, meet certain qualifications under federal securities laws. Such investors, defined as accredited investors and qualified purchasers, are generally deemed capable of evaluating the merits and risks of prospective investments and financial matters. There can be no assurances that a16z’s investment objectives will be achieved or investment strategies will be successful. Any investment in a vehicle managed by a16z involves a high degree of risk including the risk that the entire amount invested is lost. Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by a16z is available at Excluded from this list are investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets. Past results of Andreessen Horowitz’s investments, pooled investment vehicles, or investment strategies are not necessarily indicative of future results. Please see for additional important information.