When big companies acquire small companies the founders should stay and become part of the team. Here are 4 tips to keep Founders after their options vest.
- Be generous
- Give them a seat at the table
- Give them a path to growth
- Make a space to tinker
Be generous , be nice, do not be critical. Look for the positive aspects of Founder's success and amplify the good parts. Founders were not shaped by the daily grind of big company life, and they may lack skills that now come naturally after years in large organizations. Founders are often powered by a spark of creativity and an urge to innovate. Founders have made an impact and succeeded were others have failed. Respect their achievement, and do not make assumptions about how people should work.
A seat a the table is more than an opportunity to speak. Founders needs to be explicitly empowered through a clear mission. It may be necessary to give the Founder a larger team to unify the organization around that mission. Bottom line, teams from the acquiring company may need to report to the founder.
Mentor the Founder and invest in growing them. Many founders have great instincts and build their own team of likeminded individuals. To be successful Founders need new skills. They need to leverage a diverse team with differing point of views. Show them the opportunities that come from being curious and balancing different perspectives.
Finally founders need a place to tinker and try out new ideas. Give them an unconstrained place to play. Let them select the technology to use and build new products. Make it clear that successful projects will need to meet company standards for privacy, security, maintainability, scale, etc.
On a final note, what works for founders may work for the rest of your team :)
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