If, Why, and How Founders Should Hire a “Professional” CEO

2 min readFeb 28, 2014


Our Partner Reid Hoffman posted a very thoughtful, relevant post today that all of the entrepreneurs that work with Greylock should read and think about. Since it covers the the delicate topic of Founder-CEO, it could ruffle a few feathers. Still, it’s a discussion that should be had.

Being one of the players in Reid’s decision to find a new CEO for Linkedin and seeing the magic of getting that decision right with Jeff Weiner makes me especially interested in the topic. Moreover, when you look at the nine companies in Greylock’s portfolio that have had an IPO in the past two years, five of the nine have CEOs that were not founders and four have CEO-Founders*. Not one one model works in all cases.

Replacing a founder with a new CEO is a nuanced decision that requires not only forethought and planning, but introspection and honest self-assessment by the founder(s). The decision to bring in a CEO needs to be followed by finding the right role for the founder and counting on their commitment to make it work; otherwise the new CEO won’t have a chance to succeed in building out the next level of a great company. Reid was incredible in both of these area at LinkedIn.

I’m proud to partner with someone like Reid who is willing to take on a delicate topic and make the hard choices. My partners and I are looking forward to hearing what you think about the post.

- David Sze

David Sze is a partner at Greylock. His investments include Facebook, LinkedIn, Pandora, Oodle, Seven, WhoSay, Nextdoor and Path. Follow him @davidsze and find his complete profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidsze.

* Facebook: Founder, CEO — Mark Zuckerberg
Groupon: Founder, CEO — Andrew Mason
Imperva: Founder, CEO — Shlomo Kramer
Linkedin: CEO, Jeff Weiner; Founder, Executive Chairman, Reid Hoffman
Palo Alto Networks: CEO, Mark McLaughlin; Founder, CTO, Nir Zuk
Pandora: CEO, Joe Kennedy; Founder, Chief Strategy Officer, Tim Westergren
ServiceNow: CEO, Frank Slootman; Founder, Chief Product Officer, Fred Luddy
Workday: Founders and Co-CEOs, Aneel Bhusri and Dave Duffield
Zipcar: CEO, Scott Griffith; Founders, Robin Chase and Antje Danielson




Early partners of remarkable teams building companies that matter. www.greylock.com