The importance of a founder working at a company is a question that gets a lot of attention for various reasons. Most startup founders certainly want to stick around and see their "baby" through, obviously. However, once investors get involved, the role of founders gets trickier. Investors often ask the key question: "what happens if a key founder gets hit by a bus?" That's the point at which a founder needs to convince the investor that the structure of the company itself is so well established that it can live on without the founder. Of course, if they're too convincing, it can backfire when the investors look to replace the founder (as they very often do), noting that the founder made a convincing enough argument as to why they're not needed.
Of course, until now, all of the stories on this were anecdotal. But, Paul Kedrosky
points us to new research that was done on what happens if a founder dies
early on in the life of a company, in an attempt to determine just how important it is for founders to stick around. It may surprise many (as it surprised me) to discover that, apparently, there isn't much of an impact if the founder passes on. The only real impact is a brief hit to profitability -- but it doesn't seem to have much long term impact. In other words, it really does take a team of folks to successfully implement an idea and bring it to market. While that doesn't necessarily mean founders are "expendable," it does highlight the importance of a strong overall team, rather than reliance on a single "visionary" expected to guide all aspects of the company. It doesn't mean founders shouldn't watch out for speeding buses, however.