We’ve seen big breakups in the software industry: from Bill Gates and Paul Allen (whose recent book, Idea Man, provides insights) to Mark Zuckerberg et (or is it versus) al. However, it isn’t just great success that can strain a partnership.
Those of us who have started a venture with a co-founder have likely seen (or, hopefully, foreseen) some of the challenges affecting co-founders.
There have been a couple of interesting articles (one from The Wall Street Journal in September 2012 and a more recent one on Both Sides of the Table) that describe some common breakup scenarios that co-founders face, with suggestions on how to better manage the situations.
How much better, though, to invest time early on in your partnership to ensure co-founders are on the same page about plans for the growth and objectives of the venture and, when it happens, for how the venture’s ownership structure will change to reflect changing situations with its partners.
MaRS’ Entrepreneur’s Toolkit offers two excellent tools to help with this process.
As we have found in so many partner relationships, using such tools helps bring underlying issues to the surface, where you can deal with them more effectively. As a result, a breakup may not always be inevitable.