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What taking over from a startup founder is really like

Entrepreneurs are often characterised as the people who ‘jump off a cliff and assemble the plane on the way down’, as LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman once suggested.

There are traits that make startup founders successful – an eye for a problem and determination to offer the world a solution, a willingness to take some risk (often personal in financial terms), and unrelenting optimism, to name a few. Startups are often chaotic entities, formed and built iteratively through experimentation and failure.

Stepping into a founder’s shoes

This we know. But there comes a time when many founders reach the limit of their ability. They struggle to deal with the many challenges that scaling a business presents. Venture capitalists will often recognise this and gradually – or rapidly sometimes – phase the founder out into presidential, ambassadorial, figurehead-type roles. And into the void a chief executive officer will step....