Founder’s Syndrome Has Taken A Troubling Turn

By Michelle Quinn
East Bay Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Founder’s Syndrome” — when a founder thinks he or she knows what’s best and doesn’t want critical feedback — has long been a tech industry affliction. But these days, according to writer Michelle Quinn, it’s becoming a bigger problem.

East Bay Times

Founder’s syndrome has taken a troubling turn.

Young startup founders, who have seen the success of founder-driven companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and many others, think they’ve got it all figured out.

They’re getting money, but they don’t think they need advice or mentoring. The last thing they want is a parent figure telling them “No.”

And these days, those who can rein them in — venture capitalists, investors, boards — are giving them free rein.

The results aren’t good.

Skully, the smart motorcycle helmet firm, has run out of money and shut down. Theranos, which promised to reinvent medical testing, faces multiple investigations. LendingClub’s founder and CEO departed amid an altered loan documents scandal.

Clinkle, the payment startup, raised $30 million but has little to show for it. Zenefits skirted state insurance regulations.

There are more ticking time bombs out there. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is reportedly looking into a bunch of these companies, must be just gearing up.

Founder’s syndrome — when a founder thinks he or she knows what’s best and doesn’t want critical feedback — has long been a tech industry affliction. But these days, it’s becoming a bigger problem.

Too many startup CEOs see themselves as the revolutionary tech expert reshaping a field with new platforms that seasoned business professionals couldn’t understand. They know what they are doing. They don’t need governance and controls.

Their attitude is, I deserve this. My company is hotter than anyone else’s. I raised this money. They gave it to me.

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