Founders often do fine, keeping big chunks even of smaller payouts, or finding future sponsorship in subsequent ventures.
Everything I wish I’d known about startups and the technology speculation industry
Danilo Campos

There’s been a lot of start-up founders acting like Masters of the Universe and pontificating the Silicon Valley meritocracy. So I hesitate to write this since I don’t want to sound like these guys (and they’re pretty much always guys). But…

Founding a company takes a lot of courage. You’re putting your own resources into an idea that is not going to obviously be a success (if it were obvious, it would have been done). The founders are responsible for all facets of the company and they don’t always get a soft landing. So yes, founders may do better than the employees in some cases, but they also put more in.

It’s also worth mentioning that if the company goes down, the founders, especially the CEO, are personally responsible for the final payroll (at least in California).