Why Founders Need a Moral Compass

I’ve been thinking why the ethical boundaries of todays founder/VC interactions feel so different then they did when I was an entrepreneur. I’ve written about the root causes in an HBR article here and an expanded version here. Worth a read.

Stanford eCorner captured a few minutes of what I’ve been thinking in the video below.

If you can’t see the video click here

4 Responses

  1. Steve,
    I couldn’t agree more.
    I believe that a good and reliable moral compass has four definite points: Honor, Integrity, Courage, Equality…and that a founder must always use their heart to find True North when making decisions about how to proceed.
    Semper Fi…

  2. It’s hard to keep up with my inbox, but I’m always glad when I take the time to read your posts Steve.

    Not sure if you’ve read the works of Neil Howe and William Strauss, (The Fourth Turning, Generations), but your picture about the cyclical nature of entrepreneurship reminds me of their writings. Your long term perspective on this topic is inspiring.

  3. The key question for me here is how this “new order” is serving the emerging startups. Retaining founder control is the new mantra in Silicon Valley, but would the companies be better off if the founders had to answer to a more independent board, i.e. with the more classical make up of a Series A startup: 2 founders, 2 investors, and one “independent” board member?

    The famous founder dilemma from Noam Wasserman comes to mind, “Do you want to be king, or do you want to be rich?” I’ve had experience in startups where founders were obsessed with being the kings, and it wasn’t a great experience for the non-founders…

    On the other hand, with the emergence of many founder-controlled unicorns, I think many founders are saying, “I can be both!”

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