When a founder ideates a company, he puts his heart and soul into making it big. For him, the company is like his baby and he nurtures it. In this journey, many people join subsequently. Investors, board of directors, and employees help him to build a strong company. But just because he founded this company, doesn’t mean he will always be in charge. There can be several reasons why many founders are later removed from their own companies. If you think this isn’t as common then you are wrong. Here are 10 high-profile founders who were removed or had to resign from their own businesses.
Table of Contents
- Sean Rad – Founder of Tinder
- Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft
- Mark Eberhard – Founder of Tesla
- Mike Lazaridis – Founder of Blackberry
- Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal – Founders of Flipkart
- Travis Kalanick – Founder of Uber
- Ashneer Grover – Founder of BharatPe
- Jack Dorsey – Founder of Twitter
- Ankiti Bose – Founder of Zilingo
- Steve Jobs – Founder of Apple
Sean Rad – Founder of Tinder
Sean Rad was one of the co-founders of Tinder, the popular dating application. The dating application revolutionized the way young people met and dated. He was also the CEO of the company until 2014 when the company started looking for an “Eric Schmidt-like person” to replace him as the CEO.
Why was Sean Rad removed from his position as the CEO?
Sean Rad was demoted after one of the co-founders of the company, Whitney Wolfe filed a lawsuit against CMO Justin Mateen. Wolfe claimed that Justin Mateen, her ex-boyfriend had stripped her position as co-founder because of her gender. She also accused him of subjecting her to, “horrendously sexist, racist, and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails and text messages” after their breakup. Sean was accused of ignoring her complaints. He returned to his position as the CEO in August 2015.
Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft
Bill Gates founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. Bill Gates was the CEO of his company until 2000 and served as the chairman until February 2014.
Why did Bill Gates resign from Microsoft?
After the company investigated Bill Gate’s romantic relationship with a former Microsoft employee, the board felt that it would be best if he stepped down from his position. He resigned from the board in March 2020 saying he wanted to devote more time to philanthropy before the investigation could be finished. A spokesperson of Bill Gates denied these rumors and said that the stepping was not in relation to this. The spokesperson said, “These claims are false, recycled rumors from sources who have no direct knowledge, and in some cases have significant conflicts of interest.”
Mark Eberhard – Founder of Tesla
A lot of people consider Elon Musk the brains behind Tesla, this may be partly true. Tesla was founded by Mark Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in 2003. Mark Eberhard served as the CEO of the company until 2007 when he was fired by its chairman, Elon Musk.
Why was Mark Eberhard fired from Tesla?
It is believed that Mark Eberhard received a call after a board meeting was conducted without his knowledge. He told the press, “There was no discussion. I didn’t get to hear what they said. I didn’t get to defend myself. I felt totally stranded.” But, the private went against the bylaws of the companies so they couldn’t fire him, instead gave him the title of ‘President of Technology’ which gave him close to no responsibilities.
Mike Lazaridis – Founder of Blackberry
Formerly known as Research In Motion Limited, Mike Lazaridis founded Blackberry in 1984 with Jim Balsillie. For a long time, the Blackberry smartphone was extremely popular among celebrities and executives.
Why did Mike Lazaridis leave Blackberry?
After struggling for a long time with Android and Apple slowly starting to dominate the smartphones sector; Mike Lazaridis decided to step down from the co-CEO position and after a year he also stepped down from the vice chairman and director position in 2013. While leaving, he said that this decision will give him more time to focus on his Quantum Valley Investments venture.
Jerry Yang – Founder of Yahoo!
Jerry Yang along with David Filo founded the internet directory Yahoo! in 1994. Initially called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web”, the company provided information, online utilities, and access to other websites. Under their leadership, Yahoo achieved a lot of success, particularly in the 2000s. The market capitalization of the company reached around $22 billion.
Why did Jerry Yang quit Yahoo?
In 2008, Microsoft offered $44.6 million to buy Yahoo which was rejected by Jerry Yang. This move was criticized and the company also faced turbulence with the increasing dominance of Google. Yang stepped down from the CEO position and returned to his earlier ‘chief Yahoo’ position. Four years later, when the shareholders were looking to put the company on sale, Jerry Yang resigned from Yahoo.
Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal – Founders of Flipkart
The former Amazon employees, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal founded Flipkart in 2007. Initially, the company focused on selling books nationwide but it gradually grew and started to receive around a hundred orders on a daily basis in 2008.
Why did Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal exit Flipkart?
It was claimed that Sachin Bansal wanted a larger role in the company during the Walmart buyout talks in 2018. After this, Sachin Bansal sold his stakes and quit the company. Later, Binny Bansal also resigned after he was facing an investigation from the parent company Walmart over serious “personal misconduct” allegations. Binny Bansal strongly denied the allegations placed on him.
Travis Kalanick – Founder of Uber
Travis Kalanick founded Uber in 2009. The former CEO of Uber is now the executive of City Storage Systems, a company that redevelops distressed real estate. Before Uber, he founded two tech startups.
Why was Travis Kalanick asked to resign from Uber?
In 2017, the world saw the outpour of allegations ranging from sexual harassment to gender discrimination in the company. The problems began when an ex-Uber employee exposed gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the company through a blog post. Although the company tried its best to mitigate the problems, the pressure from Uber stakeholders grew and Travis Kalanick was asked to step down from the CEO position. Travis Kalanick resigned from the CEO post but retained his seat on the board until 2019.
Ashneer Grover – Founder of BharatPe
Ashneer Grover, Bhavik Koladiya, and Shashvat Nakrani founded the fintech company BharatPe in 2018. Ashneer Grover, also a Shark on the show Shark Tank India, recently resigned from the company after he was allegedly connected to financial fraud.
Why did Ashneer Grover quit BharatPe?
Ashneer Grover was initially in the news due to being involved in a telephonic controversy. The company asked the co-founder to take a leave of absence on 19th January 2022. But, this is not the reason why Ashneer Grover quit. Later, the personality’s name was connected with financial fraud in the company. This was under scrutiny by the board and the financial misconduct was reported to be in double-digit crores.
The former MD and co-founder filed an arbitration with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre against the company. After losing this, he resigned from his own company and stepped down as a board member. His wife, Madhuri Jain was also terminated from the company.
Jack Dorsey – Founder of Twitter
Jack Dorsey co-founded Twitter in 2006 with Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Noah Glass. Jack Dorsey took the role of CEO and was removed from the company by his co-founder Evan Williams in 2008. He later returned to the company in 2011.
Why was Jack Dorsey fired?
Shortly after being appointed as the CEO, complaints regarding his poor management style, inability to fix crashing servers and lack of communication with the board started showing up. It was also said that he spent more time learning about his passions rather than running Twitter.
In 2015, he returned to the company as the CEO, and later in 2021, he stepped down from the position. While stepping down, he said in a statement, “My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul.”
Ankiti Bose – Founder of Zilingo
Zilingo is a B2B commerce and technology platform in the fashion industry. Based in Singapore, it was founded by Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor. Recently, the company has suspended its co-founder and CEO, Ankiti Bose. Ankiti Bose was also featured in Forbes Asia 30 under 30 list.
Why was Ankiti Bose suspended from Zilingo?
Zilingo has been valued at over $1 billion and has been looking to raise funds since last year. The company suspended Ankiti Bose after launching an internal financial investigation into its accounting practices.
Bose has denied the allegations placed on her and described the investigation a “witch hunt”. It is also being said that she has been wrongly suspended because of the harassment-related complaints she made against several senior team members.
Steve Jobs – Founder of Apple
Steve Jobs with his partner, Steve Wozniak, founded Apple in 1976. Beginning the journey of Apple from his parent’s garage, all of us know the heights of success Apple has reached today. This credit has to go to Steve Jobs. He was not only known for his wit and intelligence but also for his short temper. Finally, the board had fired him in 1985 considering him too young to run the company.
Why was Steve Jobs fired from Apple?
Steve Jobs chose and convinced John Sculley to join the company and work with them. John Sculley was working with Pepsi and had also helped the company turn its losses into profits. But after working together for some time, the tension and disagreements between the two grew and later the board sided with Sculley to fire Steve Jobs. Jobs made a comeback to the company in 1977.
In 2015, during Stanford’s commencement speech, Steve Jobs said, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
There could be a million reasons why a co-founder can be forced to quit or be removed from his own company. The fact remains that it is possible and there are many similar co-founders who may have been removed evenly wrongly or because of something they intended to do consciously.