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Ben Horowitz slammed for slavery, prison comments at Pinterest

Prominent venture capitalist Ben Horowitz made controversial remarks at Pinterest Friday during a company wide fireside chat in which he compared prison culture to corporate culture. 

According to screenshots leaked to USA TODAY, Pinterest employees reacted with shock and horror as Horowitz talked about a violent incident in prison – a shanking – to the need for people to adapt to the culture in which they find themselves. 

Horowitz and friend Shaka Senghor, a former prison gang leader, have publicly discussed the parallels between prison and corporate America. The insights Horowitz drew on come from his recent book, “What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture.”

“I’m extraordinarily uncomfortable with using slavery and prison culture as ‘good examples’ for drawing the lessons we need to draw,” one employee wrote. “To use a man’s need to survive in prison and turning it into a joke for how that’s like new hire orientation. Just…”

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Andreessen Horowitz's Ben Horowitz with his book

Horowitz, who has frequently talked up the book at industry events, did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

The fireside chat was conducted by the social media company’s human resources chief Jo Dennis. Pinterest declined to comment because it was an internal event.

The fireside chat was the first in a series called Progress, which is supposed to be a gathering during which company leaders address the 2020 priorities of the company.

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