MWW Group recently bought back its independence from IPG….a move that we believe will enable us to preserve our entrepreneurial culture and take advantage of a lot of changes in our businesses. We will continue to be led by our CEO and founder, Michael Kempner…which has gotten me thinking about the power of founders on an organization and its reputation.
Few would argue that founders care more than the average bear about their Company, its employees, its customers and its future. Transition of leadership from a founder can often cause angst in the marketplace – from Steve Jobs’ illness to the rather public ousting of Seventh Generation’s founder.
Which leads to an interesting case…Google. Larry Schmidt, who oversaw the Google IPO and navigated the early skepticism around search and ad models, is passing the reigns back to one of its founders, Larry Page. Continued day-to-day engagement of the founders is making lots of stakeholders feel comfortable and confident, and many point out that Schmidt has been mentoring Page to prepare him for the top job. All sounds good. Except for one thing – Larry Page has never been a CEO before, much less a public company CEO. Or the CEO of a Company facing competitive pressure like it’s never seen before – from giants like Facebook and Apple.
It is an interesting contrast that questions abound about whether acting CEO Tim Cook has the vision to lead Apple forward if Jobs doesn’t return, while Schmidt prepares to become “schmoozer in chief” claiming that adult supervision is no longer required at Google. (Not sure those would have been my recommended choice of words!)
Seems the “founder” currency is very powerful indeed.