The Co-Founder Relationship

If you were making a list of things that could go wrong on an seed, angel, or Series A investment, you would have to put the co-founder relationship right up there at the top of the list. Not every startup has co-founders. Some just have one founder. In some ways, that is a bit easier to “underwrite.” At least it is clear who is in charge and why things are happening or not happening.

With co-founders, it is always a bit unclear where the issues are coming from. Founders don’t generally like to disclose their issues to their investors and Board. If it gets really bad, the stuff comes out. But often it stays under the covers where you, as an investor, can’t do much about it, other than wonder what is really going on.

Frequently one of the founders is the “business person” and the other is the “technical person.” That works pretty well as each person has a domain where they are “the boss” and that means they aren’t in each other’s hair so much. But there are many places where that framework breaks down. Examples of areas that create co-founder stress are compensation, raising money/dilution, product strategy, resource allocation, marketing, and PR, among many others.

The co-founder dysfunction impacts everyone in and around the company, but mostly the team underneath the founders. It is like being in a family where mom and dad aren’t getting along. There is stress and strain, messed up decision making, and everyone is walking on eggshells.

So what can be done about this issue?

Here are some suggestions:

1/ The Board and investor group should talk directly and honestly with the founders about the challenges of staying aligned and those conversations should start before an investment is even made. By putting the issue on the table, making it something people are allowed to talk about openly, there is a much greater chance the issue can be managed effectively.

2/ The team underneath the founders should feel like they have the right, and the responsibility, to talk to the Board and investor group when founder dysfunction gets really bad. In general the idea of the team going around the leaders to the Board is a big “no no” in startup land, but there are a few places where that needs to happen, like outing illegal or dishonest actions, or harassment. Likewise, if the co-founder relationship is so bad that the company is being seriously harmed, the team should feel a responsibility to come to the Board with that information.

3/ There are some great “founder conflict” coaches out there. This is a bit like marriage counseling. The co-founders meet with a coach together regularly to diffuse and manage their conflict. I have seen this work very well. Most CEO Coaches will do founder conflict coaching, and if they don’t do it, they can recommend someone who will.

4/ Founder divorce is something that happens pretty regularly. If two, or three, people can’t figure out how to work well together, then one, or possibly more, will have to leave. Sometimes founders can figure this out on their own, but often the Board and members of the team will get involved as well. I have not seen the data on this, but I would imagine a minority of founder teams make it all the way to the finish line without one or more leaving along the way, often for reasons of unmanageable conflict.

Founder conflict is pervasive in startup land but is not discussed very often. That should change. It is normal. It happens. You aren’t the only one who is experiencing it. It is OK to talk about it, put it on the table, and deal with it.

DISCLAIMER – This post is absolutely not about any company, any founder or founders, or anything specific at all. It is just about something that we frequently see and is worth talking about. If you think I am writing about you, your company, or your founder, you are wrong. But I am happy to talk about it nonetheless.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Yup. Many ICO-based companies have been put together almost overnight, sometimes with a weird combination of “co-founders” to make the whole story look good.I expect we’ll see many co-founder relationship issues there, covering the whole range of scenarios you enumerated.

    1. awaldstein

      Most ICOs don’t have boards at all as they don’t have investors.Some yes, but to my knowledge a different circumstance mostly.

      1. William Mougayar

        Which makes the situation even worse, although leads to similar outcomes (i.e. divorces, conflicts, etc.)

        1. jason wright

          and scams, rip offs, and outright fraud. the ‘no checks and balances’ structure of these ICOs is a massive red flag. Even a foundation is no guarantee of probity (see the Tezos debacle).

    2. JLM

      .Let’s be honest, these are not “real” companies. They are akin to muggings — legal (perhaps), financial muggings.They are not a fair exemplar for Fred’s post. He’s dealing with real companies.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. William Mougayar

        To some extent, yuppp. But some are trying to be real companies.Some are open source projects that think they are not like real companies.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          >Some are open source projects that think they are not like real companies.In what sense? Interested to know, because I was reading about one.

        2. cavepainting

          It is time to call ICO companies, not companies, but projects. They can be incorporated, raise money, and all that, but they should be seen as projects until there is some type of real traction.A project by definition has a more temporary, morphing feel to it and reflects the state of play better.

    3. jason wright

      the closest some of these ICO co-founders ever get to each other is their photos on the ‘team’ page of their project’s website.I know of one project where the two co-founders had never even met each other face to face before launching their ICO. confounding.

      1. JLM

        .Haha, “con-founders” indeed.Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. William Mougayar

        Yup. I believe that .

    4. JamesHRH

      Not a great sample cohort, ICOs.I worked with a 3 founder team that was on their second company and 2 of them were exactly alike personality wise but different orientations.They basically hated each other 80% of the time. Tough sledding.

      1. William Mougayar

        ICO’s are a very interesting cohort to study. It’s quite dynamic and evolving.

        1. JamesHRH

          Interesting is the right word.

      2. ShanaC

        so what makes for a good personality balance

  2. awaldstein

    Going to the board and going around the CEO is a real tough one Fred.I have felt the need to do so at times early in my career but didn’t and left instead as the dynamics are too fraught with danger and misunderstanding and tension.

    1. fredwilson

      you are rightbut i get those calls from time to time and i understand how courageous they are to make and i handle them with extreme delicacy and confidence

      1. awaldstein

        while i have worked directly and indirectly with some exceptional board members, that level of trust i haven’t had.guess i didn’t have you there fred.

        1. fredwilson

          you are right that this sort of thing doesn’t happen easily because there isn’t an appropriate level of trust

          1. pointsnfigures

            Board dynamics are key. Your previous blogpost about having an executive session at the board allows board members to develop trust among one another.

      2. PhilipSugar

        I always tell people this. I will look into but you better be willing to own it. I don’t EVER play the tell me something bad, but don’t tell the other person. Somebody is heading to the boneyard. Otherwise you are now playing politics and there are people that are Machiavellian about it, and are willing to character assassinate if they don’t have to own it. I had somebody we should have an anonymous comment box. I say my office door is open if you want to talk to me in confidence come in and close it. But I put one up. My welding is not so good. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

        1. JLM

          .Your welding is not up to commercial standards. Your messaging hits the mark, your mark.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. JamesHRH

          I think it only makes sense to say, I will not keep this secret.Secrets are death.

          1. PhilipSugar

            They are a way to character assassinate. Notice there are two ass’s in that word. What I have found happens is people gang up on somebody if they can do it not in the open. No different than animals (every one of my pets my wife bought as they were the picked on runt of the litter after they go on her feeding program they are not runts)I have watched this time and time again. The gossiper always says: Well I talked to James, Fred, and Arnold and they think Phil is incompetent what do you think? but don’t tell Phil I said this. It is character assassination.If you say anything other than fuck off I am going to tell Phil that you said this you are an active participant in cancer. But human nature is to say…..well gosh if James, Fred and Arnold think that…….but you know what?? The gossiper says it to each person without them ever having said that.Edit: And i tell the person to go and ask James, Fred and Arnold and confront the person when they find out they didn’t say that.You have to squash that out, crush it.

          2. JamesHRH

            +1,000 ETH (currency of the day).

          3. cavepainting

            Great comment. This happens a lot and is generally true across cultures and levels of management. There are four characteristics of bullying cultures where people indulge in gossip and character assassination. I wrote more about this a while back.INGRATIATE: The bully sucks up to you when he or she thinks you are important. Using flattery, praise, or even acting vulnerable. And eventually ends up using you or working against you.QUARANTINE: The bully ignores you when he or she considers you as unworthy of attention. Acting almost as if you did not exist.INTIMIDATE: The bully intimidates you, using both covert and overt techniques, including fear, blame and shame.WHISPER: The bully whispers innuendos and insinuations into the ears of others, and indulges in a slow-drip character assassination.Bullying and gossip is poison that will rot the company and lead to its demise.But the buck always stops with the CEO. It is important that the CEO be sensitive to the vagaries of human nature and make transparency, respect, and non-bullying a core part of organizational values, and how people are hired and fired. People can be at their very best or worst depending on what they are allowed to do and the culture that surrounds them.

          4. PhilipSugar

            You are being much more eloquent than me.

          5. Vasudev Ram

            Great points. Seen that sort of behavior in companies where I worked.

      3. JamesHRH

        I have told people that i will do something about it but I will not keep it secret.The best rule is: Never say anything about someone that you would not be willing to gently say to their face.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          As far as I can tell, in nearly any organization, gossip, especially organized gossip, can be powerful stuff both for fighting people down the hall and for ruining a company.

      4. cavepainting

        I did this once as an executive (i.e. bypassing the CEO and communicating with the board) but it was an exceptional situation where the company’s future, credibility with customers, employees’ mortgages, benefits, and company contributed savings were all at stake. It is a super hard decision and once you have crossed the line, there is really no going back and it will strain relationships.I would really do it again without any hesitation. But for anyone considering such a thing, it has to a) be a very serious matter that cannot be addressed by direct confrontation with the CEO, or you have tried and it did not work, b) you need to be sure that you are not motivated even 1% by politics or personal agendas, and c) you would feel horrible about yourself if you had the choice to act and you didn’t, and d) you have high confidence and knowledge about a specific situation or someone’s intent and are not speculating or guessing.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Could not say better.

      5. Matt Zagaja

        A statement like that means a lot. If I ever start a company I want someone like you on my board. Are there other less well known VCs you would consider to have a similar style to you? Not planning to need one anytime soon but never hurts to know just in case.

    2. PhilipSugar

      It’s no different than coming to me and talking in confidence about somebody. You damn well better not do it for any other reason other than something is REALLY wrong. You know my management principles.However you MUST do it if something is REALLY wrong.I hate politics and intrigue but if you have something really wrong, then you need to address it, and skip over the person who is doing the wrong.For instance if there is something like the Susan Fowler case I am sure she went over the HR’s head, which is why I know it was high up.However, if you say I don’t like Phil and I don’t think he is doing a good job, then you are gone. Phil is stealing or harassing people or cases like that…..I need to be gone.

      1. awaldstein

        it’s not that simple.once i was a c level person this became moot as I was part of the operating team and responsible for success and the board were my counterparts.prior to that there is almost no reason to take the risk.your tone is threatening and unpredictable saying ‘you had better be sure’. what director or manager or even vp wants to address a board person whose responsibilities is not to you but to the shareholders?would almost never recommend to do so and don’t when they come to me from people i mentor.

        1. JamesHRH

          Culture is key.Doing the right thing should always be rewarded.Hence the observation from a colleague that two layers of bad management is the same as a poisonous culture.

          1. Jeremy Robinson

            Love this observation! Not sure if I’d call it poisonous culture but certainly starting to rot….

        2. PhilipSugar

          No not threatening. Could not disagree more. Here is what I have seen happen. Sally goes around and says to everyone don’t you think John is incompetent. Or bill goes around and says. Don’t you think Jane is a bitch. It is putting that thought into everyone’s head. Even worse is bill and sally team up and bill says well sally says. (Gender independent)Might as well be in high school and have somebody on the outsWhy???sally and bill are insecure or just plain meanYou go around first question I ask is have you talked to the person

          1. awaldstein

   comments were in context of people going around Ceos to talk to board members.yours more operational and different so i understand.

          2. JamesHRH

            I think the CEO convo is the hardest, for sure.I have certainly had them and then been shown the door. I have also solved a bunch of problems and then been shown the door because I made the CEO remember how unprepared he was (didn’t see that he had solved the problem through me – its confidence based).I side with Phil. Gotta have a go at it first, then go around. It explains why you are calling the BoD member….’yes, of course I talked to Shirley before bringing this to you but it hasn’t helped.’

          3. cavepainting

            Boards have palace intrigue and weird dynamics too. Everyone has an agenda, so it is best to not use the nuclear option, unless it is something extraordinary.

          4. PhilipSugar

            You obviously have never been a victim of a board room coup where a board member wanted your job

          5. awaldstein

            nope i have not and honestly try to have opinions about what i know only.been hired by them. removed by them. and on and on though.honestly i always like reporting into them in a variety of capacities.more input in a coherent process is always good.

          6. PhilipSugar

            Hey, you say your opinion to anybody. I don’t mind somebody telling me to my face they think that was a fuck-head decision and I am an asshole. I don’t mind if they say I am going to tell the board that is what I think. Better say it to my face first.I can tell you I have been bought by companies where the top management is more dysfunctional with more intrigue than the palace elite than the Roman Empire or the Chinese Empire. See how those endedFire me….no issue. Play games and allow it to happen…

          7. JLM

            .In 33 years of CEOing, I had plenty of folks come to me to complain about someone or something. I had an open door policy and I used to conduct Anonymous Annual Company Surveys. I published the results.The most common complaints are always sales/marketing v finance; or, operations v finance.Whenever that would happen, I would stop the discussion and say, “Let me get the Controller/CFO to come listen in, so we can fix this right now.”Worked every time.There were times when the whistleblower was absolutely correct. I would tell the CFO that in front of both of them. Sometimes, I would say, “Now, there is the possibility for this to create some friction, but understand it is my call. Any problems, you blame them on me.”I’d find a moment at some future date when the parties were together to ask, “That thing we discussed? It get worked out the way we agreed?”A CEO should use the power of his/her position to shorten the time span to solve problems and to prevent them from festering.On Performance Appraisals, I had four boxes to be checked as appropriate:Should you expect to be promoted within the next 90 days?Should you expect to be promoted within the next year?Should you expect to be fired within the next 90 days?Should you expect to be fired within the next year?I was never really a huge fire breather, but I was as direct as Hell. One of the best employees I ever had was a guy who I checked the box for fired within 90 days.He came running to my office and in an hour we fixed everything he was doing wrong. He became a solid performer, rock star like.People need to be as direct as possible. Hard for a young CEO to do, but it works a lot better than scurrying around in the darkness.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          8. PhilipSugar

            I will say I don’t think you have ever run a software or technology company. The CFO isn’t going to fix shit. Sales and Marketing has no f’ing clue what software or robotic engineers do, they want more, more, more. Same for the engineers….no idea how hard it is out in the marketplace.Let the CFO settle??? They won’t be able to count the beans because there will be no beans.Let people bitch anonymously??? I know where that ends. A toxic waste hole of a company.

          9. JLM

            .You didn’t read what I wrote. I was using an example where a CFO was part of the problem or not.My words were: “…so WE can fix this problem.”The Anonymous Company Survey was done anonymously and “I published the results.”The most important issue in any problem is to get the poison out. Toxicity is created by failing to purge the poison.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          10. Adam Sher

            Thanks for the LOLZ – A software company CFO

          11. PhilipSugar

            I am in no way denigrating the value of a good CFO. BUT. The big thing for those that have not worked for technology PRODUCT is that the CFO is not going to help you in arguments with Sales v Mktg v Development v Operations in any combination.Sorry, just the fact. Sales is always going to the would do so much better if marketing brought in more leads, development built more features, and operations made a complex thing magically easy. Marketing will say the same thing except that sales can’t sell. Development will say why can’t you sell what we have an operations are cowboys, and operations will say none of you guys know hard 24/7/365 relying on other peoples tool stacks are.None of these you can financially measure. Because if you say we aren’t selling enough let’s cut back development you might get smoked by the competition. You can very carefully measure inputs and outputs but have to understand that the relationship is not always linear.

          12. Adam Sher

            I don’t think you are denigrating the CFO and I agree with you.

          13. JamesHRH

            I agree with Phil.In mature companies where margins are distributable across the enterprise, a CFO can be an inter-departmental problem solver.Not as easy in tech. And, given Phil’s experiences, I buy his take.

          14. cavepainting

            True, but the question is what are people doing when the CEO is not looking. Addressing direct conflicts is one thing, but what often sets the rot is lack of clarity on core values in the workplace: i.e. treating people with respect, not gossiping, encouraging diversity of thought, questioning assumptions, etc. These things have to be communicated constantly and the CEO and top management have to be exemplary themselves.

          15. JLM

            .In a well run company, the CEO is rarely looking. The CEO sets the plan, makes sure the folks understand the plan, leaves them free to execute the plan, while making periodic inspections and providing an open door through which to come to provide guidance.The company’s values will initially be the CEOs values until the culture takes root.It is essential that the leaders lead by example in …………… everything.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          16. cavepainting

            Time to acknowledge that there are a lot of not-so-great CEOs out there and few companies are really well run. It is a tough job that needs not just skill, but also empathy, strong set of core values, and a deep understanding of human nature. Nothing that can’t be learnt but every one is at a different level of maturity on varied aspects of the job.

          17. JLM

            .Fair play to you. I do see a lot of emotional growth necessary in first time CEOs. That is why I think they need a mentor or a coach.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          18. ShanaC

            or therapist, depending on the type of emotional growth

          19. PhilipSugar

            Let me clear on my point. In no way reflective of you. Somebody comes into my office and says. Hey Shana doesn’t know how the hell code for optimization. It is a mess.I say have you talked to Shana directly about this? Told her what and why you thought she was doing wrong and offer to help???1. No = That is not how operate here, did you say this to anybody else?A) Ummm = Play this game once more and you and I are going to be having a direct talk.B) No = Ok do it and don’t do that again.2. Yes = Let’s both come in my office and talk.Now, for infractions that are beyond the pale….i.e. I got texts telling me I was was “sexy” or “hot” or she is doing side work at the office, or lewd comments……OK.Otherwise you just have intrigue not work.

          20. ShanaC

            That’s not what I mean. Some people’s emotional growth are part of more deep rooted issues, maybe dating back to childhood. A coach just might not be the right person to handle those issues alone

          21. PhilipSugar

            Missed your point, I agree. I have suggested it to somebody here.I just wanted to be clear on my point. Arnold thought that my approach was threatening and JLM likes anonymous feedback.My point is this…..I have tried many different ways. But I have found in my situation you have to own it. It is why I use my real name here.Anonymity allows people to behave in ways that they would not in person. Just look at this board. I have never blocked a real name.Hey that’s ok for a board, but a place that you spend a huge percentage of your life at????I’ll give a non tech example. There is this place I go to for lunch, two cheese slices and a soda for $5. The soda cup is honor system at the fountain. It is awesome. They have 20 different types of pizza and awesome Italian food. I give my people the choice of what we eat when we have guests in and they always pick takeout from this place.There is a counterwoman there that is beyond spectacular. She rings so fast, gets orders in, never screws up a takeout call. There is an Italian guy that does the main cooking and the rest Latinos. Runs so well, everybody that visits says what a place.She is nice enough to run your order to your table while taking other orders. (She must have a great memory).Literal Yelp review (a guy from London pointed out): “That bitch behind the counter was more interested in talking to (racial slur) than refilling my soda”If you said that to her to her face, you would not make it out of that place. And nobody would have to come around from the counter. Like all of Newark, Delaware that place is full of construction guys, factory workers, professors, students, office workers, medical people.Nobody would tolerate that comment, Nobody.It is more subtle in an office but no less offensive.

          22. cavepainting

            Yeah, it is not acceptable but what happens in companies all the time.The culture flows from the big boss though. If the CEO and his/her managers articulate what is acceptable or not in terms of specific behavior, employees are more likely than not to try to adhere to it.In one of my earlier jobs, we made a sacred and profane list and constantly communicated this to people. It made a big difference.Worst thing is an indifferent CEO who is insensitive to the slippery slope of not being proactive on culture.

          23. cavepainting

            Therapy is great to the extent that by taking the decision to talk to some one, it makes you aware of your own behavior. But it is important to not lean on it too much for good therapists are rare and often compound than ameliorate the problem.Self-reflection and cultivating more awareness of thoughts and actions of self can help a lot. If you begin to see your ego as separate from self, things can get dramatically better. In other words, when you start seeing everything, the fixing happens by itself. But of course it is easier said than done..

          24. PhilipSugar

            Very well said. Self awareness is more important than having somebody “listen” to your thoughts.

          25. Vasudev Ram

            Fantastic approach, particularly the directness part. Need more CEOs and managers (as well as other levels) to be like that. Beating around the bush does not work.

      2. Vasudev Ram

        Another thing that it is known that some sneaky people do (though not exactly related to this sub-thread, it is a corporate shenanigan – or rather an individual one done by some people in companies) is this – sometimes described as:- Create a problem- Solve it- Become a heroAgain, seen it happen, heard people use those words to describe it.That sort of behavior needs to be spotted and outed.Heroism should not be the norm, rather the exception, when needed – otherwise it means the company is always in fire-fighting mode, which means not well run or managed – whether on the technical or business side is irrelevant – and anyway, all actions done by people in a company, irrespective of department, are about business – or should be.Again, been there, seen that.

      3. Adam Sher

        I’ve noticed a function of our HR is to listen to shit employees have to say about each other, themselves, customers, etc… In most cases, the purpose is to just listen. Sometimes, there needs to be action (i.e. conversation b/t aggrieved parties) and HR can mediate.Mal adaptive behavior is typically outed in a few months. Our board comprised of three operating executives, who represented the vast majority of the equity. This also meant there was no one “above” the CEO to speak to in some dire situation. Although if your CEO is the majority owner, that person is likely properly incentivized to run a good company.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Here is my issue. It is like “tattling”. Employees that want to “bitch and moan” and not do get over on those that do and don’t.Don’t get me wrong benefits admin and being a place to express true wrongs are super importantHR has no idea if your boss is “riding” you because you deserve it or not.Hey they can look into it. But if you need a therapist go to one

          1. Adam Sher

            Agreed. Therapy is expensive, though.

          2. PhilipSugar

            Ten times more expensive on the company dime when it affects another employee. Gosh Joe comes bitching to me every day about Jane. He tells me he doesn’t and doesn’t want me to confront her. She must be a problem.Joe is the problemJane comes to HR once and says Joe said just stop by hotel room and pickup presentation materials and he is in a towel. We are getting to bottom of this

    3. JamesHRH

      Perhaps your best comment in 5 years.Totally agree that this is the nuclear option.

  3. sigmaalgebra

    So what can be done about this issue?And the candidates are (1) get a co-founder coach, (2) go for one of those challenging, team building, bonding retreats where have to climb the Rocky Mountains, in winter, in Canada, at 14,000+ feet, in life threatening situations, where have to tolerate hunger, thirst, frostbite, eagle, bear, and wolf attacks, depend on each other, and use ropes to survive, (3) avoid Y Combinator that is very much against sole founders, (4) have husband and wife as co-founders, …. And may I have the envelope, please? “RIP”. And the winner is [drum roll, please] — be a sole founder!!!!!! And receiving the award is no one because we have been informed that sole founders are both busy and anonymous!!!My guess has always been that investors very much didn’t like sole founders because replacing the CEO would do less damage to the company if there were co-founders.

  4. PhilipSugar

    This is why I like odd numbers of founders. 1, 3, or even 5. No tie votes if it comes to that. I don’t see it as a marriage. I don’t live with you or share a bed. I do spend a ton of time with you but we don’t have to love each other

  5. Steve Zengel

    I’ve been coaching basketball 20 years, including experience at the Division I and semi-pro (NBA and high-level college players in summer league) levels. The one parallel for me and my world is a staff having an Associate Head Coach (AHC). It is usually done out of loyalty to long-time assistants looking to get a head gig somewhere. It’s a title-thing, not an increased role responsibility-thing. It works if everyone’s on the same page.Look at Jeff Capel at Duke. Played for Coach K (’97). Goes on to serve as Head Coach for VCU and Oklahoma. Gets fired after back-to-back losing seasons. Returns home. Named Associate Head Coach. Helps Duke get a CHIP in ’15 and acted as HC for 5-10 games a couple seasons later when Coach K had to have immediate back surgery. I don’t think anyone, including Jeff, himself, would question whether or not he could win more games than Coach K if given the opportunity to be the HC.Not all are like this.Could go south really quick if the players start giving greater credence to the AHC and the AHC starts actually believing he/she could win more games if he/she were the Head Coach. Probably the best example of that was the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014-2015 season.… Result of that was HC getting fired mid-season the following year (’15-’16) and having the AHC-named-HC go on to win the Championship that year (2016). Just plain ugly.Ironic you use the word “coach” in item 3. Great evidence there, alone, in my humble opinion, that people being led, whether it’s basketball players, or consumers, employees, or founders of a startup, need 1 voice from 1 leader and if it’s more than one, I totally agree with you, better iron out the wrinkles early.Love reading your posts. Hope you’re enjoying Cali.

    1. JamesHRH

      Google Bill Campbell. Startup founder / CEO whisperer.

  6. Julia

    My company, launched last week, deals exactly with this topic. After working with a global accelerator, I noticed a 67% failure rate of early stage startups, due to Cofounder compatibility, compared to 35% for faulty product or cash flow issues.After 3 years of research with a very prestigious panel of serial entrepreneurs, VC’s and researchers, we have developed a leadership assessment to predict “CoFounder Compatibility”. Our research has been shared in the press. Feel free to reach out to try to test at or our weekly podcast “The CoFounder Couch”.Our PROVEN personality test indicates red flags with your CoFounders, which can be addressed to optimize your relationship. Minimize your risk!

    1. JLM

      .Very interesting. Good luck with the new venture. Of course, the only “normal” people in life are the ones we don’t know very well.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. JamesHRH

      What do you use to underpin your Personality test?

    3. PhilipSugar

      I’d love to see your methodology as I think 67.9% of statistics are made up.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        Wow! Quote of the day!I’m going to steal, er, reuse that.

        1. PhilipSugar

          I should have left out the word “think”.You tell a stats person that and they freak out.

      2. Vasudev Ram

        Q: What is the definition of a statistician?A: A person who can lie with his head in the oven and feet in the freezer and say that “On the average, I feel quite comfortable”.

      3. Vasudev Ram

        “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”…

    4. cavepainting

      Sorry, but am deeply skeptical of such things and am inclined to consider it as BS. No test can really figure this out from correlations of companies that were successful vs. not. There are multiple factors that go into failure. How do you know it was cofounder compatibility and not product market fit, flawed assumptions of market, etc.People do not work well together because they let their egos run amuck and are unaware of what and how they think and why. There is no easy way to test for this.

      1. JLM

        .Normally, I would agree with your sentiment on this, but I used to use the Myers-Briggs type indicator and a California personality test which were administered as part of the hiring process.I had very good luck.I would make sure no team got overloaded with a single MB type and that they were complementary.The MB type ENTJ is where the conflict usually comes from. The test will also provide an insight as to the degree of ENTJ-ness. The more pure the ENTJ is, the more likely you may see it bubble up.Like many things, it has to be used with some rational sense. I am, of course, an ENTJ. I used to like to have division managers be ENTJs as they had similar leadership requirements.The ENTJ type is the typical senior leader.Sometimes, we can use a little science to buttress our own judgment.OTOH, I have also had good luck with chicken entrails.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. cavepainting

          Myer Briggs types and other personality models are great and I have used them while working in large companies and for checking my own type. I am just not sure if it is the best way to check for co-founder compatibility in startups.Best co-founders have worked together before, have complementary areas of expertise and have learnt to develop deep trust. If there is trust, everything else including personality quirks can be navigated.But your point is well taken and I probably should not dismiss something out of hand.

          1. JLM

            .There is no substitute for experience. Everybody has their quirks which don’t show up until they are under pressure.When I was dealing with thorny problems, I used to suck a Tootsie Roll pop. No idea why, but I did.A person who worked with me would say, “Don’t go in there, he has a Tootsie Roll pop.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. JamesHRH

          The simpler faster MB system is called the Enneagram – 9 types of connections to your interactions with people, basically.Super fast and accurate, when you get proficient.

    5. ShanaC

      how did you come up with your personality model

  7. Julia McNamara

    Just iidentifying roles is not enough. You have to better understand “Founder Dynamics” – how do you get one CoFounder to stay in her lane? Most of our behaviours are unconscious. CoFounders don’t realize that they are gravitating towards others’ responsibilities..

  8. Frank W. Miller

    In one of the startups I was in, the one I was a founder in actually (their were 4 other founders), the board ignored the founders except for the CEO. Only the CEO was allowed into the board meetings or had much interaction with the board members at all. I and the other discounted founders always felt slighted. I actually think it contributed to the final, less than successful outcome of the company. Thoughts?

    1. JLM

      .When you have a large number of co-founders, the odds of someone falling out is extremely high. Five is a big number.The solution is often a “Voting Trust” in which the co-founders agree that they will always vote their shares as a block.This forces the co-founders to talk, to discuss, to argue for a single outcome. Conflict appears when it is possible there will be more than one outcome.The other thing that works, in dire circumstances, is a good Buy-Sell which can be incorporated into the Voting Trust. This makes it real as there is an agreed exit strategy if the disagreements get too intense.It is essential that a Board have a single point of contact amongst the founders with whom to talk. It is equally essential that an enterprise have a single leader.With a Voting Trust in the background, the CEO is forced to bring big decisions to the co-founders before taking a public position with the board. It is a forced communication mechanism.This also prevents the board or shareholders from picking off a co-founder to the detriment of other co-founders. It retains the power of the founders.I have worked with several companies whose only hurdle to success was an unwieldy management structure with multiple co-founders trying to sit in the CEO chair or Co-CEO chair. It is worse than flesh eating bacteria to a living, breathing enterprise.There is always one individual who is best suited to be the leader.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. sigmaalgebra

        A keeper. I wouldn’t have guessed that such cute but potentially powerful arrangements would be feasible.> This also prevents the board or shareholders from picking off a co-founder to the detriment of other co-founders. It retains the power of the founders.Yup, that’s a big concern. As I hinted in my post to this thread, that is my guess about why investors don’t like sole founders!The situation of “picking off” looks both real and old: E.g., if believe the movie Braveheart about William Wallace and Scotland, then apparently then the standard reaction of the King of England to some rebellion in part of the kingdom was for him to “pick off” one of the rebels, buy him off with titles, lands, and treasure, “to the detriment of the other” rebels and, indeed, the rebellion!Then a question would be, what is it about the Voting Trust that really keeps the Board from “picking off” one of the co-founders in the trust? That is, in what sense is the trust meaningful, enforceable, reliable, strong, significant?> I have worked with several companies whose only hurdle to success was an unwieldy management structure with multiple co-founders trying to sit in the CEO chair or Co-CEO chair. It is worse than flesh eating bacteria to a living, breathing enterprise.I can believe that. Indeed, Schumer and Pelosi would rather fight with Trump over anything and everything. to throw mud continually in every way possible, instead of joining with Trump to fight the problems we all want solved — peace and prosperity. From all I can tell, Schumer and Pelosi don’t have any serious, substantive policy differences with Trump and, instead, just want to be, like on a grade school playground, king of the hill instead of Trump.There is an old comment about such: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”.Each navy understands: A ship needs just one captain. With more than one, there will be arguments in progress on the bridge as the ship is ignored and runs aground.

        1. JLM

          .The Voting Trust applies to shareholder votes.Say, for the sake of discussion that four founders collectively own 55% of the shares amongst them. Evenly divided they each own 55/4 = 13.75%.Without a Voting Trust, the other shareholders — who own 45% — can pick off one of the founding shareholders and have a total of 58.75% of the shareholder votes.With a Voting Trust which mandates a voting block amongst them, this cannot happen.There are a lot of actions which can be undertaken by a majority of the shareholders even if there are existing agreements which seem to deal with those things.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Frank W. Miller

        “It is essential that a Board have a single point of contact amongst the founders with whom to talk” == single point of failure

        1. JLM

          .About 75% of VC funded startups fail. Pick your own number.Of the remaining 25%, about 80% replace their CEO within 4 years.So, the probability of a CEO not being a failure is low.I think most VCs would say they are riding their winners for 7 years. This implies lots of C suite turmoil.I cannot defend the exact numbers, but they are consistent with what I read and have observed.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Frank W. Miller

            I just always thought, you know, VCs always talk about how they like to be involved with the company and help in ways other than just giving money. It just seems to me that if they establish the kind of relationship where they could at least just have coffee with the other founders once in awhile, you might find that lots and lots of good thing come of that.

          2. JLM

            .Two different things. A CEO has to know what his investors are doing and make sure it is fine with him.That Board is the entity which will one day fire the CEO.When I wanted to give a subordinate face time with the Board, I would have them make a presentation at the board meeting and let them field questions. This is a way to create a relationship even if only for a few minutes.A board should be approving final plans and in those deliberations, they can influence the company.I certainly can see your point.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  9. JLM

    .The single most important decision we ever make in business is with whom we are going to do business. For co-founders, the parallel is obvious — with whom are we going to found a company?It is incumbent upon the co-founders, long before they ever seek funding, to have an idea of how they intend to resolve conflicts.You want to ride the river with someone who can contribute in ways you are not able to, a complementary co-founder.You don’t want to allow conflict — different views as to how to accomplish an objective — become personal.If co-founders can talk through the entire life cycle of the company and model what they want to happen, they can avoid a lot of conflicts.I was a partner in a very successful partnership which was self-funded. The company lasted for about 12 years. The single most important thing we both agreed upon is that neither of us wanted to build a long term enterprise. It was, from the beginning, to be an investment operation which would be liquidated.In those dozen years, we had a single disagreement. We had agreed to sleep on it. The next morning, we both said, “You’re right.”We used to regularly ask each other, “Anything going on we need to talk about or anything pissing you off?” There were a few things.I got a little exercised by the amount of time my partner invested because he was going through a personal issue. We later trued up the equity split to compensate for this.He didn’t like me coming to work in shorts. I had fallen into coming to work at 5:00 AM in jogging gear, promising myself I would run around Town Lake before going home. I cleaned up my act.Conflict is a symptom of growth and growth should be risky enough there is a little friction. Do not fear the friction.While Fred’s post paints a scene of concern, I can vouch for the notion that if you get it right, it creates a huge force multiplier. So, it is worth it trying to get it right.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. cavepainting

      Conflict because of different ideas is one thing. It is a symptom of growth and almost necessary for progress.What kills companies is people fighting because they are “reacting” personally to each other and letting their egos get into the equation. “How dare he question me”, “Why is he asking my direct reports to help him”, “Why is she giving press interviews, and not me”, “Why am I not the one making the board presentation”, etc.Just being aware of your ego and letting things go is probably better advice than almost any type of high priced counseling sessions.

      1. JLM

        .As a leader, an important thing one can do is to subordinate your ego to the company mission.We all get paid in comp, self-esteem nourishment, ego enrichment, love (respect), and fun. As the leader, one should ensure that the credit is distributed far and wide.It is important to talk to people and to ensure you know what is bubbling inside. I never had a problem doing just that. I’d take a person for BBQ and ask them to tell me their three biggest frustrations — top people.I don’t think I ever had anyone clam up on me. Once or twice, I learned something of some significance, but most of the time, it was like changing the oil. It had to be done to make the engine run smoothly, but it was just a chore.The single most precious commodity in a company is the CEO’s time. The most sought after commodity in a company is the CEO’s time.When you’ve been a CEO for a long time, you can feel when things are a little off.It is amazing how much one can accomplish if they don’t care who gets the credit for it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Vasudev Ram

        >Just being aware of your ego and letting things go is probably better advice than almost any type of high priced counseling sessions.Easy to say, more difficult to do, though. Seen it in places I worked as well as non-job environments. For some people their self-identity or self-esteem is tied up or one could even say equivalent to their role / job / title. In fact that seems to be the norm.

        1. cavepainting

          Yeah, Agreed. It is a hard thing to unravel unless there is an external trigger that forces them to look inward to understand themselves.Unfortunately, the only thing that often jolts people is profound life events that cause pain or shame. The shock to their system then forces them to pause and consider the way they think and act and the very nature of their minds.

        2. PhilipSugar

          Somebody here and I forget who said one thing you really have to take into account is people and “career risk”This really resonates with me, as I think about it.When somebody is worried that they will lose their job AND They fear they will not be able to instantly find one ANDIf they don’t find one they are up to their head in debt AND They know maybe I don’t really deserve ANDI am not as qualified for this job as others ANDAnother job won’t pay nearly as much.They will do all sorts of crazy shit when things get tough. Stuff that you think is totally irrational. But think about it totally rational.

          1. Vasudev Ram

            >They will do all sorts of crazy shit when things get tough. Stuff that you think is totally irrational. But think about it totally rational.Makes sense. I was saying something like that to someone recently – everything that people do is (in a sense) really based on logic (i.e. rational – to them – whether right or not in an absolute sense), it is just that their logic may be different from what anyone else thinks it should be (e.g. it may be based partly or wholly on emotions, ego, etc.).

          2. cavepainting

            Yeah, the default behavior of most people is self-preservation + self-maximization. Unless there is a deeper sense of value system and they really care about certain things beyond themselves, it is hard to make people take unnecessary risk that is about doing the right thing for someone else or the company, but exposes them to their bosses or whoever the powers maybe.To be clear, it is incumbent on the bosses to ensure that the incentives are to do the right things. Left to default, human nature always regresses to its worst. It is like entropy. You need a force with good intent to prevent entropy to occur.

    2. Vasudev Ram

      >You want to ride the river with someoneInteresting, looked up the term:…It meant what I guessed, except I didn’t think of the cattle drive bit.

      1. JLM

        .You are discovering all my secrets.A subtle insult is to say, “Not a guy you’d want to ride the river with.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. Vasudev Ram

      >Conflict is a symptom of growth and growth should be risky enough there is a little friction. Do not fear the friction.A keeper.

  10. JLM

    .Going around a CEO by a Board to talk to subordinates is a dangerous and risky maneuver. I cannot recall a single instance in 33 years of CEOing and 40 years of sitting on boards in which this had a good outcome or one which was not available using another channel.I can tick off a number of them which had bad outcomes.There is a way to get a pulse of the company by using an Anonymous Company Survey on a regular basis.This is the kind of thing a board can work through with a CEO, put some fingerprints on some of the questions, and then force the situation to be treated when objective results are in place.Any good CEO wants to know those things also.If anyone wants an exemplar I used for more than a quarter of a century, ping me.A good review of Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture plus an Anonymous Company Survey plus a top management offsite meeting will smoke out a lot of baloney. It re-invigorates the enterprise and renews their marriage vows.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. cavepainting

      When things are rosy, no one cares to do this, but I think most board members are curious to get executive perspectives of companies that are not doing well, especially when the causes are opaque.Companies operate like black boxes. When outputs are not to your liking, people want to ask why. When CEO cannot offer convincing answers, they want to understand more. They might do it obliquely and casually, but they are always pushing to know what might be happening.Anonymous surveys are one way and are very helpful, but often lack qualitative context, especially of personnel issues that are complicated. Just like CEOs and VPs do skip level meetings, it should be acceptable for board members to meet with executives one-on-one after informing the CEO.

      1. JLM

        .I am surprised at your comment. I would never in a million years agree to allow a Board member to visit in private directly with a subordinate of mine.I would gladly prepare a response to any subject and have the appropriate person present the response to the entire board, but I would never agree to allow a Board member to dig that info out by himself.Let me be clear on one thing — very few Board members have ever been a CEO and I don’t trust their judgment, experience, or wisdom in the toil of running a company.Whole different thing if they have the operational chops. I would be seeking their assistance.In addition to not having the operational chops, very few Board members have the time to delve into things as deeply as necessary.Having said that, if I had a Board member who had particular expertise, he would not have to wait on me, I’d be soliciting his assistance before he ever realized there might be a problem.Boards have to draw a good performance from the CEO and part of that is the ability to answer reasonable questions. A Board has to have patience to let the CEO get the answers while continuing to run the company. Some of that sentiment is just accountability.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. cavepainting

          All that is true.. But, you are looking at this from a CEO’s perspective, especially one who was very successful and who likely had the full and complete trust of his board.Not all CEOs are JLM. When startup companies struggle for long periods with reasons hard to fathom, it is not uncommon to see board members who have good relationships with company executives seek their perspectives. Especially in the valley, there are VC-exec relationships with a long history and people talk informally.Circa 2018, it is hard for a CEO to 100% control the information flow to the board. If things are messed up in a significant way and the communication to the board says otherwise or hides issues, it is likely to be discovered.

          1. JLM

            .I admit to injecting my own experience into these kind of discussions. I believe in “practice like you intend to play.”I just spent a day meeting with an accelerator’s new class and your admonition as to the experience of CEOs is a fair one.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  11. Lori Dernavich

    Always appreciate your thoughts, Fred. I agree with much of what you’re saying here. The tweak I have is around your thoughts about getting a conflict coach. A good coach will be able to resolve conflict, but co-founders will have more success if they engage a “couples” coach from the outset. Like marriage, when a couple goes in for counseling after damage & conflict have occurred, repairing it becomes far more difficult, less likely, AND very time-consuming. For counseling to ultimately produce a healthy, restored marriage, the marriage will require most of their attention while other things fall by the wayside to varying degrees. So with co-founders, getting a coach in the early days of becoming co-founders will help them to:- better understand each other’s personalities and work styles,- develop relationship tools to improve their communication,- improve their communication so trust and vulnerability become the norm, and- resolve smaller conflicts before they turn into irreparable conflicts that will pull them away from focusing on the business.Thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations!

    1. sigmaalgebra

      The issues among co-founders can, usually are, MUCH more difficult than what you described.A big driver is the big bucks involved.To be too simple, there is a range of ways to proceed:At one extreme is slow and careful, growing like most US sole proprietor businesses, with just organic growth, that is, operating expenses just from current revenue and capital expenditures just from retained earnings. So, early on and maybe through exit, retain control and accept no equity funding. Maybe organize as just an LLC instead of a Delaware C Corporation.At the other extreme is the theme of “grow fast or go home”, race to a minimum viable product (MVP), slapped together with interpretive scripts, open source code, stuck together with chewing gum, held together with rubber bands, superglue, duct tape, and bailing wire, that frequently runs long enough for a short demo without crashing. Then race to something to show some “product-market fit”, maybe running on a server farm in the cloud, say, Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web services or some such). Then have the dynamic duo do Sand Hill Road, end to end, raise funds, hire like crazy, for the mistakes, fire fast, have nice chairs, cheap folding tables, good work stations, cheap-o floor space, lots of pizza, McDonald’s, and Chinese carry-out, a Saturday night beer bash starting at the end of work, about 11 PM, get some work done, raise more equity funds, keep working, hiring, raising funds, spend fast, raise more, get big and then look for an exit — IPO or M&A. Cash out and take a vacation. So, lots of risk, maybe chaos, maybe lots of arguments, and maybe something good at the end.Then between these two extremes are lots of mixtures.We could calculate what mixture was best if we had a lot of data we have no chance of having until too late to use it. But that calculation would only be for each founder, one at a time, unique to that founder, and for the team of co-founders at best about all we could hope for would be a Pareto optimal, non-inferior solution which does not promise strong consensus.So, instead, each team member estimates the data, comes up with very different estimates, considers the promise of the company, the chances of competition, how they might be made obsolete from new technology, what Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook or someone in one of 10,000 garages might do, their own goals, age, financial situation, family situation, career plans, etc. Then there are big conflicts.Opportunities differ enormously;In my case, I see an unusual mix of characteristics: (1) The financial opportunity is unbelievable, beyond belief, from simple, first-cut, back of the envelope arithmetic $1 T. (2) The key to the success is solving a crucial, technical core problem, not in computing or computer science (or artificial intelligence or machine learning) but in original research in some applied math. Well, I’m a well-trained, long experienced, well-proven, proven talented research applied mathematician, and I did the research with some astoundingly good results, (3) If people do like what I have in mind, then the rest to a nice business with plenty of cash for rapid organic growth is routine and well within what I as a solo founder should be able to do.But, sure, there can be external problems!!! I ran into one and got a solution. Then I ran into another one and am well along to a solution.Otherwise the work has gone as expected, fast, fun, and easy for me In particular I took the business idea and the applied math solution, designed the corresponding Web site and first server farm. wrote the software, ran it, timed it, documented it, and it needs more testing but looks fine, ready for significant production. The software is not just a prototype, was written with high quality software tools for serious production (Microsoft’s IIS, .NET, ASP, ADO, SQL Server, etc.), is not merely an MVP, needs no “refactoring, etc. The software is fine — no problems.So, net, I didn’t see the need for co-founders, a team, hiring, or equity funding. And for growth, if people like the work at all well, there should be plenty of cash for growth without equity funding. Also, due to the applied math and more, I have essentially no concerns about competition.Yes, early on some equity funding would have helped, but in several respects equity funding was more trouble than it was worth.I outline that situation because it is one that (A) I know and (B) illustrates the surprising range of startup situations.So, with my particular situation, I just don’t need a co-founder. If things go well, then in time I’ll need some input from others, but they don’t have to be co-founders.Net, for some startups, there is an easy solution to the problem of co-founder disputes — be a sole founder and don’t have any co-founders.

      1. Lori Dernavich

        Assuming you’re responding to Fred? Or just me? There are many variables that go into the scaling and success of a startup. Fred has done a good job in pointing out some. I pointed out a piece that is near and dear to my clients and experience. From your experience, it’s clear to see that individuals and startups are as unique as a fingerprint. There are commonalities, but each is unique. Best wishes for a successful venture.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          > Assuming you’re responding to Fred? Or just me?Just you!Ah, you did it to me again, proved that lots of women have MUCH better verbal and social talent — and reading comprehension and insight enough for your “fingerprint” — than I do!!!!!

    2. JamesHRH

      The obvious answer from most poor founders is ‘do not have time, need to just tough it out to get to Milestone X.’How do you handle that objection?

      1. Lori Dernavich

        Hi James. I don’t want to repeat myself, so some of what I wrote to ShanaC applies here too. But to specifically address the, “I don’t have time” comment……I don’t buy it. If the likes of Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt (when he was at Google) have/had time for coaches, a startup founder and other leaders can find the time too. Again, it goes to how much they value what they can get out of coaching. I have found that when a client says they don’t have time to meet, it is exactly then that they really do need it. They’ll come into the meeting stressed out with their minds racing. TOO MUCH TO DO! Then we pull it apart. Where is the stress? What are all the racing thoughts? What has to get done. By the end of the session, they usually walk out focused and with a game plan.I don’t strive to convince people they need coaching. If they don’t think they need it, can’t do it right now, or can’t afford it, that’s okay. Always available to discuss it should their minds and needs change.Hope that answers your question? Thanks and best to you.

    3. ShanaC

      if they are bootstrapping that may not be possible

      1. Lori Dernavich

        I agree that bootstrapping may make it difficult to get coaching support, but it also depends on how much value one attributes to it. Some coaches have set packages and programs, but I don’t think that works with startups. Each startup and leader is unique, so their coaching should be too. Even one coaching session a month, though not the most effective frequency, will help a company/founder tackle the bigger issues. If coaching could have prevented a company from making some costly mistakes up front, then it would have been very valuable and cost-saving.When I coach startups on how to interview and hire successfully, I often take them through the exercise of what it costs to make a bad hire. I just did a workshop for a group of 2-5 person startups. They decided to do the exercise based on a 50k salary. Their input resulted in a cost of $260,000+ for making that bad hire. Now if they get coached up front, their chances of making bad hires would decrease, thereby saving them a lot of money.So while I get it that not everyone can afford it. I’ve also had clients who see the value in it enough that they’ll figure out a way to afford it.Thanks for your input. The startup world – what an exciting ride!

  12. jason wright

    en vogue…but the market decides. it’s a tough sell. the author needs pedigree. it’s all about credibility. do we believe?

  13. kevando

    From a more positive perspective, all good co-founder relationships stem from a shared value. I had a rocky co-founding, but we aligned on Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” as our guiding principle and it helped us through many tough decisions.If co-founders don’t share a core principle belief about the world, that’s a huge red flag.

    1. FlavioGomes


  14. Alix

    not sure if it’s already been mentioned in this thread. Setting-up a vesting / clawback clause between founders very early on can be super helpful to solve founders conflicts when one needs to leave the company. Especially it removes some of the emotional burden at play.

    1. JaredMermey

      Glad this came up as I wanted to ask a similar question to investors in the group:If vesting is already in place, how do you handle restarting vesting schedules upon your investment?

  15. JLM

    .Sen Flake is an undocumented Democrat who has written and hawked two books while pretending to work full time as a US Senator. Unable to secure his party’s renomination to his current position, he has decided to forego standing for re-election.He subsequently gave a speech to an empty Senate Chamber to assuage his hurt feelings.He is a strap hanger who has championed such legislative tornadoes as the “Stop Paying US in Peanuts Act of 2017” which would discontinue the practice of allowing subsidized peanut farmers repaying crop loans by delivering peanuts in the cash value of their loan — a practice which has gone on forever. Crop sharing is a time honored method of settling agricultural debts.He also authored such gems as: “Senate Resolution 371: A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on the value of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico.” Bill referred to Committee, meaning it will never see the light of day.He is an inconsequential, showboat Senator.There is not a single American journalist whose voice has been stilled or even influenced by the President’s utterances.For the first time in the history of the US, a President has gone around the press to speak directly to the US people via social media and other outlets.The press is unable to conjure up a story to write without checking Pres Trump’s Twitter feed. No man has ever controlled the agenda, the debate, the content of the press, and the water cooler like Donald J Trump.Pres Trump rode that wave to office and has controlled the country’s political messaging since then.For the first time in history, a US President has pushed back and challenged the press on the fairness of their reporting, the fidelity of their sources, and the truthfulness of their writing. It is safe to say that President Trump is not going to take any disparaging coverage without fighting back.In Flake’s speech he compared Pres Trump to Stalin, a man who killed 25MM of his countrymen and a great number of Germans. Stalin created the gulags, the labor colonies, the famines (such as Ukraine which killed off millions), and killed off the Polish officer corps.Stalin did not call the New York Times or CNN “fake news.”The Flake comparison is desperate, factually inaccurate, and absurd. Anyone who would suggest it is a serious bit of intelligent discussion shares the same description.The country will be better served by replacing both of Arizona’s lackluster, unaccomplished Senators with men or women who will do the people’s work.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Wow!!Can spend a lot of time watching the news trying to get informed before getting such juicy, FACTUAL details about Flake.All of his statements have sounded absurd, but the facts really settle the question.I’ve suspected that some of the US South West open borders crowd likes Flake.That the Senate refuses to show up for his nonsense speaks well for the Senate. I suspect, hope, believe that SOME of the Senators are good and working hard on peace, prosperity, etc. for all of us.The newsies have shown that from Trump’s announcement to the present, the worst dirt they have found on him is something about two scoops of ice cream. Result: One heck of a clean bill of health for Trump.The longer the fake news keeps screaming about Trump while empty of content the better Trump and the worse the newsies look — good.

  16. george

    Tough topic: It’s been my experience (across multiple circumstances), one co-founder is encouraged to exit. It’s really hard to decode founders with divergent views or dissonance – that’s a challenging setup. Certainly, you want to avoid negative competition, when it sits at the desk next to you.

  17. cavepainting

    Co-founder relationships – people working together at a very visceral level where success or failure has profound personal consequences – are a complicated affair.Most people (irrespective of the titles they carry) are not very conscious of what they think and say and how they communicate. When you are being reactive to situations and operating from a place of self or ego, the responses are based on self protection, self preservation and self maximization: i.e. insecurity, personal hurt, contempt, greed, etc.Being aware of the ego and how it works can sensitize people to why they do what they do and why the other person is behaving a certain way. When you can see and debug the code that runs in your mind, the biases it carries, and the way it works, it can be liberating.Some times, it is better to see first than try to fix. When you see everything, the fix happens on its own.

  18. pointsnfigures

    This is true. A great coach can be worth their weight in gold. I also find that founders will avoid a coach, and at the last minute when almost all is lost want one-or wish they would have had one. is a great program to teach leadership. They are in Chicago and LA now.The other thing I find is that in early stages, communication isn’t robust and people might be saying stuff but not “hearing” stuff.Fred’s disclaimer above applies to my statement as well

  19. Sierra Choi

    I think this disclaimer is a great one! 😀 DISCLAIMER – This post is absolutely not about any company, any founder or founders, or anything specific at all. It is just about something that we frequently see and is worth talking about. If you think I am writing about you, your company, or your founder, you are wrong. But I am happy to talk about it nonetheless.

  20. FlavioGomes

    Dear founders..holster the ego. There can only be 1 at the top. Chose that person early, choose carefully and stick with the plan. Don’t let the Board or VC choose for you. Sometimes its not about making the right decision, its about making the decision right.

  21. ShanaC

    Are their things to do before problems happen

  22. Steve Mushero

    This is SO true; sadly, I’ve been part of it several times. I always, always recommend co-founders get counseling / coaching right from the beginning (that’s true for marriages, too).

  23. ShanaC

    if it isn’t a politics post why is this here

    1. creative group

      ShanaC:”if it isn’t a politics post why is this here”We assume you mistyped the Moderation reply. We think you were asking if it is a Politics post why is it here on the unrelated post.We preference the post with “Off Topic Alert” as we have for over two years if the post is off topic. Search it.Don’t know your intentions in addressing the post but feels awkward and uncomfortable addressing any woman regarding Free Speech. Are we just misreading (Women in our group are disagreeing with us regarding intent in your reply) Were you just attempting to moderate an Off-Topic post and curating the blog?Hopefully this wasn’t a moderation to appease the Alt-Right and Conservative posters to show everyone is being put in line.CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT——-Why free speech is so important to the fabric of Democratically structured Free societies. Many appear didn’t get it.399BC Socrates speaks to jury at his trial: ‘If you offered to let me off this time on condition I am not any longer to speak my mind… I should say to you, “Men of Athens, I shall obey the Gods rather than you.”‘…1215 Magna Carta, wrung from the unwilling King John by his rebellious barons, is signed. It will later be regarded as the cornerstone of liberty in England.1516 The Education of a Christian Prince by Erasmus. ‘In a free state, tongues too should be free.’1633 Galileo Galilei hauled before the Inquisition after claiming the sun does not revolve around the earth.1644 ‘Areopagitica’, a pamphlet by the poet John Milton, argues against restrictions of freedom of the press. ‘He who destroys a good book, kills reason itself.’1689 Bill of Rights grants ‘freedom of speech in Parliament’ after James II is overthrown and William and Mary installed as co-rulers.1770 Voltaire writes in a letter: ‘Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.’1789 ‘The Declaration of the Rights of Man’, a fundamental document of the French Revolution, provides for freedom of speech .1791 The First Amend-ment of the US Bill of Rights guarantees four freedoms: of religion, speech, the press and the right to assemble.1859 ‘On Liberty’, an essay by the philosopher John Stuart Mill, argues for toleration and individuality. ‘If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.’1859 On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, expounds the theory of natural selection. TH Huxley publicly defends Darwin against religious fundamentalists.1929 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, of the US Supreme Court, outlines his belief in free speech: ‘The principle of free thought is not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate.’1948 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is adopted virtually unanimously by the UN General Assembly. It urges member nations to promote human, civil, economic and social rights, including freedom of expression and religion.1958 Two Concepts of Liberty, by Isaiah Berlin, identifies negative liberty as an absence or lack of impediments, obstacles or coercion, as distinct from positive liberty (self-mastery and the presence of conditions for freedom).1962 One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn describes life in a labour camp during Stalin’s era. Solzhenitsyn is exiled in 1974.1992 In Manufacturing Consent, Noam Chomsky points out: ‘Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favour of free speech, then you’re in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.’2001 In the wake of 9/11, the Patriot Act gives the US government new powers to investigate individuals suspected of being a threat, raising fears for civil liberties.

  24. Steve Schuller

    “If two business partners always agree, one of them is unnecessary”

  25. Jose Mulligan

    Yes, it is