When I recently wrote about ‘which co-founder takes the spotlight?’, the issue at hand was more of an observation, a vibe you get when you talk to co-founders of a company. The gist of the argument was that media attention often becomes a tussle between the co-founders, predominantly in first time entrepreneurs.
But an incident that was just brought to my notice, shook me. It was that moment when you ask, “Dude, seriously?” A co-founder of a newly formed company told me that he used to take care of the marketing side while his partner handled the backend. To spread the word, the co-founder handling marketing pushed for a few interviews and he was quoted as the spokesperson for the company. This led to a sense of insecurity in the other co-founder which eventually led to a crack and the two had to part ways finally! All because one of the co-founder thought that the other was hogging the limelight.
This is just one side of the story and there can be other undertones as well but these incidents are happening way too often. Co-founder disputes are nothing new and we’ve also written about the tough questions to ask your co-founder but incidents like such are often disheartening. In another instance, a technical guy founded a company and brought on board a marketing ‘co-founder’ (yes, this happens) and the duo worked well together till the company started doing well and raised a funding round. Once the company took shape, the business guy was thrown out. No papers were signed initially.
It is always a two way game and both the co-founders have a role to play due to which a dispute is created but issues like media attention should never be a reason for splitting a company. The other person can give the interview next time around. We also come across instances when the spokesperson specifically mentions that the quotes should be attributed to all important people in the company, so that no one feels neglected. This can be a tactic that can be followed. Another way to handle this problem could be to decide who will be the spokesperson for the company. This would also be a way to share responsibilities and not have any disputes later.
And also, it is not always that such issues arise with co-founders who have come in contact recently, not holding a long friendship. The instance mentioned at the beginning of the article came about between founders who had worked together previously.
So, what’s the moral of the story? We’re all humans and disputes are inevitable but at the very least, please let’s have disputes that are worth breaking up over.