Founders Who Left Their Own Cos   Leave a comment

Who says people at top positions do not get fired? There is a long and interesting history of CEOs, founders and co-founders of companies who have got canned. Firing higher officials is not a new phenomenon but quite an old practice. Some are fired for all the right reasons, while some are fired for the wrong ones. TheStreet has collated a fascinating list of the founders of some very big global organizations, who were fired from their very own brain-child.

1) Eduardo Saverin –

Eduardo Saverin, the Chief Financial Officer of Facebook, was fired from our beloved social-networking site’s top position. As ‘The Social Network’ showed, Saverin was the one who funded Facebook when it needed money the most. Saverin’s sudden removal from his post makes us wonder as to what the real reason behind his getting fired was. No one is sure about the truth but it is speculated that Saverin got side-lined when Facebook got associated with Sean Parker; Co-founder of Napster, and Peter Thiel, a renowned hedge fund manager and venture capitalist. However, Saverin sued Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook and settled for an undisclosed amount. Here, one can never know the true reason behind Saverin getting fired.

2) Steve Jobs –

Steve Jobs was the  Chairman, Co-founder and CEO of Apple, which has changed the face of technology and technological thinking forever. Jobs was fired in the early 1980s and was succeeded by John Sculley. Sources say that Jobs was sacked over a power fight pertaining to pricing of the products. Sculley said that Jobs was not exactly fired from Apple but was demoted to a lower rank. Nevertheless, Jobs left the company and re-joined the company in 1996. His focus upon his return was on quality and not quantity and this is how he pushed Apple to its current position today. His perseverance has paid off and now Apple is synonymous with excellence.

3) Jerry Yang –

Jerry Yang is the Co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo. His recent resignation makes us wonder if any CEO in this world is safe from getting fired. It is speculated that his getting fired was due to his vision and mode of operating, which many saw as an obstruction in the growth of the company. His departure from the company, however, made the stocks of Yahoo go up.  Scott Thompson, a former executive of PayPal, is the current CEO of Yahoo. Also, a major deal with Microsoft fell through becuase Yang was against it. A CEO should be given liberty to an extent to decide about the future of his company. However, sometimes a good decision taken for the betterment of the company can reap negative results.

4) Jeffrey Hollender –

Jeffrey Hollender was the founder of Seventh Generation, a company that sold eco-friendly products. Like most CEOs exiting their companies, the reason behind his departure is also unclear. In 2009, he stepped down as the CEO of the company and assumed the position of a Chief Inspired Protagonist. However, he severed all ties with the company in 2010. Despite much debate, the only probable reason behind his leaving the company was quotes as “divergent paths” in a letter issued by the company to its share-holders. This again indicates the age-old reason of creative differences, which make CEOs exit their own creations.

5) Sandy Lerner –

Sandy Lerner was the Co-founder of Cisco, the other co-founder being her husband, Len Bosack. She exited her company in the year 1990 but the company was the least bit disappointed at the decision to remove her because her decisions had hurt the company. Lerner and her husband had gone for a $2.5 million deal with Sequoia Capital, owned by Don Valentine. Valentine went forth and hired a new CEO, John Morgridge, without giving prior information to Lerner. This soured her relations with the new management. The new management, however, said that there was room for only one leader in the company and so she left Cisco.

6) Diane Greene –

Diane Greene was the co-founder of VMWare. She is currently on the Board of Directors at Google. Acquiring EMC, a data storage firm, led to her eventual exit from the company. Later on, the executives at EMC felt that Greene had insufficient expertise to run a big MNC like theirs. Paul Maritz, a former member of Microsoft, replaced her. Also, her strong bend towards making VMWare a completely autonomous body was not welcomed by the executives at EMC. This might have been a probable reason behind her leaving the company. However, one may never know the truth.

7) Richard Thalheimer

Richard Thalheimer was the founder and former CEO of The Sharper Image, a gadget company, at a very young age. Thalheimer seemingly was the victim of new and more aggressive board members, who happened to be big hedge fund investors. As usual, the differences of opinion on how to run the company, along with poorly performing stocks and falling revenues, came into the picture and Thalheimer was replaced as the CEO of his own company. This did not turn out to be a bad deal for Thalheimer because the company filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Though Thalheimer might have saved himself from being associated with a bankrupt company but seeing his creation go bankrupt must have hurt him tremendously.

8) Rob Kalin

Rob Kalin was the founder and CEO of Etsy, an arts and crafts company. Kalin has been removed 2 times from the position of CEO of his company. He was succeeded by Maria Thomas the first time and by Chad Dickerson, Chief Technology Officer, of Etsy last year. The reason behind his departure has not been revealed. According to Dickerson, Kalin cares deeply for Etsy and was a good CEO. He also adds how Kalin has carefully constructed a guide-map to chalk out the future of Etsy, which is extremely helpful says Dickerson.

 9) David Neeleman –

David Neeleman was the CEO and founder of JetBlue, an airlines company. Neeleman had proved that entering a low-cost airlines space was tough but not impossible. JetBlue gave good competition to Southwest Airlines, which is leading in its sector. Neeleman was badly criticized for his wrong decision that left about 1,100 planes caught in the middle of a storm on February 14, in 2007. Also, the passengers were stranded in the storm with no water, food and functional bathrooms. This unfortunate incident receive such negative publicity that the board decided to remove Neeleman. This decision to fire a CEO does not seem all that wrong, considering that the poor passengers had gone through hell because of him.

10) Jakob Lodwick –

Jakob Lodwick was the co-founder of Vimeo, a video sharing site. He has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, like – gimmicks to capture attention through obscene actions.  InterActive Corp bought 51 percent shares in the associated companies of Vimeo, like – Connected Ventures and Busted Tees and was instrumental in firing Lodwick. Though Lodwick had nothing bad to say about his getting fired, it is still unclear as to why he was removed from his company. the most obvious reason might have been his odd lifestyle and carefree attitude towards his personal image, which adversely affected his professional one. This is one example of how separating personal and professional spheres is very difficult in the world of business


Posted January 21, 2012 by avinash2060 in Current Affairs, Tech Wars

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