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How Many Founders Does A Startup Need?
It’s a neat table of the number of founders for Microsoft, Google Youtube, Yahoo!, Overture, eBay, PayPal, Skype, Kazaa, Hotmail, Ask.com, Excite (where Ryan’s name showed up), Napster, Lycos, Amazon, Apple, MySpace, Facebook, Netscape, AOL, Mirabilis, and Digg. The average number of founders – 2.09.
My first company – Feld Technologies (1987) – had two founders (me and Dave Jilk). The first company I funded as an angel investor (NetGenesis: 1994) had six founders that quickly dropped to four. The second company I funded as an angel investor (Thinkfish: 1994) had four founders. Another early angel deal I did (Harmonix: 1995) had two founders as did Email Publishing (1996). The range from 1994 – 2000 seemed to be solidly between two and four.
I just looked through the companies I’m currently on the board of. The number of founders range from 1 to 4 with a concentration of 2 and 3. The few companies that have single company founders paired up with an experienced entrepreneur as CEO early in their life.
When I look at the list of my successful companies, the distribution is very similar. Lots of two founder companies, a few threes, and a few fours. I can’t think of a success case that I’ve been involved in with greater than four founders (although my partner Ryan can since Excite weighs in as the exception with six.)
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By Brad Feld
About the Author: Brad Feld
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Brad Feld is currently a Managing Director at Mobius Venture Capital and has been with the firm since 1996. Prior to Mobius, Brad founded Feld Technologies, which was sold to AmeriData Technologies in 1993, where he became Chief Technology Officer. Brad currently serves on the boards of a number of private companies, including Atreus, Comergent, ePartners, FeedBurner, Gold Systems, Judy's Book, Klocwork, NewsGator, Quova, Rally Software, and StillSecure. In addition, he is on the board of The National Center for Women & Information Technology, The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County, and The Colorado Conservation Trust. Brad has previously been a member of the board of directors of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization and founded the Boston and Colorado chapters. He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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