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Startups: MBAs have changed Add to ...

There was a time when it was considered folly to hire newly minted MBAs for startups. They were arrogant, demanding high salaries and too much control, and not all that practised on what happens in the trenches at a small company. But entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz says that’s so yesterday: “I think we have thrown the babies out with the bathwater. More specifically, we’ve thrown the outstanding talent out with the bad behaviour of an old, irrelevant sub-group.”

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On his blog , he says MBA schools and their graduates have changed. The world largely beat the arrogance, overconfidence and sense of entitlement out of the current crop of MBAs. They actually exhibit some humility and a willingness to learn that was unheard of a decade ago. Their course material is also more relevant to startups, rather than focused obsessively on big companies, so they can bring relevant knowledge such as how to scale companies and improve incentive programs.

Like their predecessors, they’re smart. And they can bring a different perspective, particularly if you’re an engineer running a technology startup, as is often the case. “Engineers tend to look at the world from the product out. Having a few people in the company who see the world from the market in can be enlightening,” he writes.

It usually pays to buy low and sell high. When it comes to hiring MBAs, technology companies have historically bought high and sold low, he says. But the current price is low, so buy.

Like their predecessors, they’re smart. And they can bring a different perspective, particularly if you’re an engineer running a technology startup, as is often the case. “Engineers tend to look at the world from the product out. Having a few people in the company who see the world from the market in can be enlightening,” he writes.

It usually pays to buy low and sell high. When it comes to hiring MBAs, technology companies have historically bought high and sold low, he says. But the current price is low, so buy.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance. E-mail Harvey Schachter

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