They left as billionaires and have radiated the relentless positivity of Silicon Valley. Pinterest “just started”, Airbnb “is in the best hands it’s ever had” and Instacart has a “huge opportunity ahead of it,” the founders wrote. Both Mr Mehta and Mr Gebbia said they had plans for new projects.
Investors say they anticipate more of these layoffs from founders realizing they now have to work (relatively) harder for less. “Now they can have some executives step down, take over and grow it with different incentives,” said Mr. Cohen.
Last week, Brad Hargreaves, the founder of Common, a start-up that operates communal living quarters, announced that he would step down as chief executive and become chief creative officer. The head of the company, Karlene Holloman, a veteran of the hotel industry, will take over as CEO.
The market downturn played a part in Mr Hargreaves’ decision. In busy times, he said, it’s good to have a founder at the top of the company who can sell investors, employees and customers with a big vision. “Operations don’t matter that much,” he said. “Nobody really looks at the bottom line.”
Today’s environment requires someone with Ms. Holloman’s extensive experience and operational skills, he said. “In a tighter time, when operations matter a lot and no one believes big visions, you want an operator in that seat,” he said.
“Many founder CEOs stick around for too long,” he added.
The founders who have stuck through the recession so far — and there are many, including at Stripe, Coinbase, and Discord — can expect higher demands and more pressure. The stock trading app Robinhood has laid off more than 1,000 employees this year as it loses active customers. Dan Dolev, an analyst at Mizuho Securities, said several investors had personally suggested Robinhood bring in a more experienced executive to help its co-founder, Vlad Tenev. Mr. Tenev cannot be forced to leave as he and his co-founder, Baiju Bhatt, own a majority stake in the company.