If, Why, and How Founders Should Hire a “Professional” CEO

January 21st, 2013 / No Comments »

By Reid Hoffman 

20 years ago, the classic startup model was to have young founders start a breakthrough company, then bring in “grey hair” in the form of experienced executives once it was time to scale the business. Key examples included Cisco, Yahoo, eBay, Google, and many smaller companies. In the last decade, however, that common wisdom has shifted, at least for consumer internet companies.  The new received wisdom is that the best entrepreneurs can stay CEO through the entire growth cycle of the company. Think of Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, or the late Steve Jobs. My partners at Greylock and I have invested in a number of young founding CEOs who match this pattern and are doing a fantastic job leading their companies through hypergrowth, such as Brian Chesky of AirBnB and Drew Houston of Dropbox.  The question is, why has this shift occurred?

Last year, Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz articulated a well-thought-out philosophy on why he prefers to back Founder-CEOs and keep them in charge as the company grows……