Why Founders Fail: The Product CEO Paradox | TechCrunch

This happens all the time. A founder develops a breakthrough idea and starts a company to build it.

StartUP Product‘s insight:

By Ben Horowitz

Co-founder and partner ofAndreessen Horowitz

Quoting Ben’s points:

3 Main Reasons Founders fail to run the companies they created:

  1. founder doesn’t really want to be CEO
  2. board sees CEO making mistakes, panics and replaces them prematurely
  3. Many founders run smack into the Product CEO Paradox
 
Product CEO Paradox
Problem: CEO was only world-class at the product, so they effectively transformed themself from an excellent, product-oriented CEO into a crappy, general-purpose CEO
Prevention: great product-oriented founder/CEOs stay involved in the product throughout their careers

Product-oriented CEO’s essential involvement consists of at least the following activities:

  • Keep and drive the product vision
  • Maintain the quality standard
  • Be the integrator
  • Make people consider the data they don’t have
How do you back off gracefully in general without backing off at all in some areas?
  • formally structure your product involvement, i.e. transition from your intimately involved motion to a process that enables you to make your contribution without disempowering your team
  • Write it; don’t say it.
  • Formalize and attend product reviews
  • Don’t communicate direction outside of your formal mechanisms
 

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