The Single Founder Myth

I’m in the process of reading The Single Founder Myth, by Mike Taber.   He is politely disagreeing with Paul Graham about the value of one vs. more than one founder.

For myself, Mike seems to be using anectodal evidence to support his claim that it is possible to succeed with a single founder.  Yes, it is possible, but it isn’t particularly likely


Strengths of Single Founder

  • Single focus, single vision.  Breakout successes will more often come from one person, and be diluted by others who seek compromise.
  • Easier dilution – a single founder can give away more of the stock, and still retain a huge chunk or even control.  That’s more difficult with more founders
  • Less costs to cover – assuming that the founder(s) represent a drain on cash, the fewer the better.

Weaknesses of Single Founder

  • No one to bounce ideas off of
  • No one to help improve – this is the antithesis of “undiluted vision” above, but often tweaks and conversations will make a solution better, not worse
  • No ability to play to strengths – if one founder is better at sales, and the other is better at, say, operations, there’s a natural benefit to letting them both do what they’re best at.

I’ve founded two companies, both times with friends.  I may start one on my own in the future, but I would much rather start with a partner who can cover some of my weak spots if I can.


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