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The founders of the big tech companies are starting to hand over to the next generation.

Big tech companies like Google, Amazon, Netflix and others have a significant impact on the way we live our lives and have incredible levels of financial success. Another thing many companies have in common is that their founders are no longer necessarily at the helm; they stepped down, starting to share power with others, or in some cases were even pushed out.

Just this week, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff became co-managing director. But they are not the only ones, among others we have:

  • Alibaba: Jack Ma also stepped down as the CEO of the Chinese tech giant company in 2013 and retired from the position of executive chairman in 2019. At the time, he still had significant power in the company, but after the stalling of an IPO by the division he was responsible for and a disagreement with the Chinese government, it’s hard to say how important he is now for terms of the company.
  • Amazon: Just in July 2021, Jeff Bezos officially relinquished the position of CEO of Amazon to the company’s former head of Web Services Andy Jassy.
  • Apple: Tim Cook was temporarily in charge of Apple in 2009 until Steve Jobs officially made him CEO in 2011. After a 10-year time round as Apple CEO in 2021, Tim Cook said he does not intend to run the company for another decade.
  • ByteDance: Zhang Yiming, the founder of the company that owns TikTok, has stated that he will step aside as CEO this May 2022 on his concerns about relaying too much on the same ideas he had before starting the company.
  • Google: In August 2015, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin switched to overseeing Alphabet, the portfolio company of various Google assets. The move was seen as them taking their hands off the search engine company, leaving Sundar Pichai in charge and in 2019, Pichai also became Alphabet’s official CEO.
  • Instagram: Back in September 2018, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger stated that they had decided to take a step out of the company, just after major disagreements with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ departure came in many stages, with him stepping down as CEO in 2000, then in 2008 leaving the full-time position at the company he helped found, before finally giving up his position on the board last year. Currently, Microsoft is led by Satya Nadella, who is CEO and chairman of the board.
  • Netflix: In July 2020, Ted Sarandos joined Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings as CEO. The company said Sarandos was already leading (he was with the company for twenty years and was responsible for its original programming) and joining Hastings as CEO was just a formality of roles.
  • Salesforce: Bret Taylor, who replaced Jack Dorsey as Twitter’s chairman of the board on Monday, also became co-CEO of tech company Salesforce, according to CNBC. This is not the first time Marc Benioff, CEO and founder of the company, will share power, but it is another example of a former member to start gaining more power among tech giants.
  • Twitter: On Monday 29 November, Jack Dorsey announced that he was leaving Twitter and said: “I have decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders”.

As you may have noticed, all of the above founders are men and have been replaced by men, which doesn’t look too good. There are some notable women in power, such as Meta’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, both of whom are not planning to leave their roles any time soon.

A few exceptions we can mention are Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s total control over Meta. He told The Verge in late October that he had no plans to step down and that it would be completely impossible for shareholders to force him out, thanks to the company’s stock structure. Besides Zuckerberg, other CEOs come to mind: Jensen Huang remains in charge of NVIDIA (until replaced by an AI avatar, we suppose), co-founder of Tencent, Ma Huateng continues to act as CEO and chairman of the board there, and Snapchat is still led by Evan Spiegel.

This just proves that tech companies can survive and thrive without their founders, as well as make way for young talent with fresh ideas, but with the same ambition to create – Microsoft and Apple, the two most valuable public companies in the world, are a perfect example of this.

Source: CNBC and The Verge

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