Salary Inequality Among Co-Founders: How Common?

I have accumulated a backlog of interesting questions posed to me by founders and investors (and by my students!). For many of them, my quantitative CompStudy data should be able to provide some answers. In this post, I will tackle the first of those questions.

In my past analyses of entrepreneurial compensation, I have focused on founder vs. non-founder salary differences (e.g., the Founder Discount), on founders’ equity splits (the Idea Premium, how teams split, when they split equally, and the potential implications for team stability), and on related issues (e.g., vesting and golden handcuffs

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CompStudy Highlights: “Live Tweets” from the Webcast

Earlier this month, we had our annual webcasts to launch the 2009 CompStudy Reports for Technology and Life Sciences ventures. During the webcasts, I live-tweeted (via my @noamwass Twitter account) about interesting data tidbits and comments from the panelists. Below is a synthesis of those raw tweets. If any strike you as particularly interesting or surprising, please comment about it!


  • Before each tweet, I indicate whether it came during the “TECH” webcast or the “LS” (Life Sciences) one.
  • Because of Twitter’s 140-character limit, some of them are a little more cryptic than I
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“Founders’ Dilemmas” Course: Franchising, The Full Life Cycle of a Venture, and Exit Decisions

Prior posts about my “Founders’ Dilemmas” MBA course included the following items:

This post describes a case that examines franchising as a growth option and as an entry point into entrepreneurship, from the perspectives of both the founder of the potential franchisor and the founder of the potential first franchisee (“Rubbish

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“Founders’ Dilemmas” Course: Founder-CEO Succession Cases

In prior posts about my “Founders’ Dilemmas” MBA course, I provided an overview of the course, details about the Introductory case and the cases in the “When to Found” module, details about four cases in the “Building the Team” module, and descriptions of the core new-venture hiring cases.

This post covers the course’s founder-CEO succession cases. The first case (“Founder-CEO Succession at Wily Technology“) examines the antecedents of succession: What are the events and conditions that lead to the founder’s being replaced as CEO? Should the replaced founder be involved in the …

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“Founders’ Dilemmas” Course: New-Venture Hiring Cases

In prior posts about my “Founders’ Dilemmas” MBA course, I provided an overview of the course, details about the Introductory case and the cases in the “When to Found” module, and details about four cases in the “Building the Team” module.

This post covers the two core new-venture hiring cases in the course, one of which is part of the “Building the Team” module and the other of which is an end-of-semester synthesis. Both of these cases also focus on serial entrepreneurs, exploring the lessons they learned in their early ventures that they then applied to …

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“Founders’ Dilemmas” Course: “Building the (Founding) Team” Case Studies

In prior posts about my “Founders’ Dilemmas” MBA course, I provided an overview of the course and details about its first three case studies (which include the Introductory case and the cases in the “When to Found” module).

This post covers the four founding-team cases in the “Building the Team” module. (Another case in the module covers non-founder hiring issues, and will be described in my next post.) Collectively, these cases cover wide variations in prior relationships, in role allocations, and in approaches to equity splits. For each case, this post provides the official case description, a …

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When to Found

MODULE #1: “WHEN TO FOUND” – Should I start a company now, or work elsewhere first? What are the pros and cons of different career paths vis-à-vis my ability to successfully start and run a new venture?

Case description:“Addresses the career decision-making process of Humphrey Chen as he graduates from HBS with an MBA. In choosing between an offer from a top-tier consulting firm and launching a start-up entrepreneurial venture, Chen must weigh the expectations of many people–family, fiancee, friends–as well …

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Introductory Case

As promised, this post outlines the first three cases of my “Founders’ Dilemmas” MBA course (see my previous post for the course overview).

This post covers the Course Introduction case and the two cases from the “When to Found” module, and provides for each case the official case description, a list of the case’s core issues, and a link to the HBS Publishing entry for that case. As mentioned before, case studies are often invaluable for helping founders, employees, and investors understand the issues they are facing or will be facing in the future (or even help them gain …

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Course Overview for “Founders’ Dilemmas”

Educating founders about the upcoming decisions and challenges they will face

Last week was HBS Graduation Week, marking the official end of the debut semester for my “Founders’ Dilemmas” course. I had a great semester with a terrific group of very sharp students (who generously bestowed on the course the 2009 HBS Teaching Award). In honor of those bold, risk-taking students who were willing to bet on a new course, I’m going to devote my June posts to outlining the course’s structure and content and to delving into the case studies I developed for it. In addition to their …

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Founder Cases in the News: Evan Williams (Twitter) and Apple

One of this week’s more intriguing (and controversial) rumors in the IT industry was about Apple’s possible interest in acquiring Twitter.

I was planning to use my next blog-post to give an overview of my new MBA course (“Founders’ Dilemmas: Money and Power in Entrepreneurial Ventures”), followed by posts on its individual case studies. However, given the Apple-Twitter rumors, I decided to jump the gun regarding two individual cases.

As it turns out, the course’s introductory case is about the early founding fireworks at Apple, and the middle of the semester features a case looking at Evan …

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