When to leave the CEO slot.

Evan Williams (founder of Blogger) and James Hong (from HotorNot fame) have been having an interesting debate about when entrepreneurial CEOs should leave the CEO slot and give it to a “professional” manager. This was all started when Valleywag covered Reid Hoffman’s move from CEO to Chairman of LinkedIn (a Sequoia company, where I work). Now, I don’t have any inside information on how Reid or his board came to this decision, but it’s clear that no one would ever take the CEO slot away from an entrepreneur doing as amazing a job as Reid has done. Linked in has become a force under Reid’s leadership, and frankly it would make me very nervious to see someone like him move out of the CEO slot. So, my reading of it is Reid must have moved out of the slot on his own.

Anyway, that’s not what’s important. What’s important are what Ev and James have brought up:

  1. James said: “The truth is that most Entrepreneurs make crappy managers. They have the ideas, and the passion and energy needed to start something from scratch and get things moving. Most entrepreneurs not only suck at taking the company beyond that, they HATE having the responsibilities of running a growing organization too. Most entrepreneurs like things small, when they can have an idea and have it implented by the end of the day.”
  2. Ev said: “It really depends on where the founder lands on the Rich vs. King dilemma, but what James says is definitely true in the cases I’ve seen. I’ve never accomplished it myself, but have always been jealous of entrepreneurs who’ve been able to bring in someone competent to take on the hard job of being CEO. When founders get pissed about it is when the investors bring in a tool who they know is going to screw everything up.”

I can tell you clearly that I NEVER dream of giving up the CEO slot, and at any company I start you would have to bring in security and drag me kicking and screaming from the position. I love both the startup phase AND the

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