Thinking of co-founding a startup? Think again

Venture capitalist warns of the pitfalls associated with equal partnerships

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I found this on Hacker News Wednesday afternoon, and though the video is from three weeks ago, I'm reasonably certain it didn't go viral on YouTube, so you probably haven't seen it. But you might find it interesting.

It's a presentation by venture capitalist and "serial entrepreneur" Mark Suster for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. Suster is talking to the audience about the "co-founder mythology."

Despite a number of high-profile "co-founder success stories" -- such as Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google and Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo -- most equal partnerships are fraught with built-in and unanticipated problems, Suster said.

"I spend so much time as a marriage counselor with startups who don't get along," he said. Among the most common issues:

* One co-founder wants to "throw himself at this company, the other person doesn't"
* Someone gets married, or they get a girlfriend or a boyfriend, and "they get pulled to other opportunities"
* Some people perform better, some don't

Suster said that while he has worked with co-founded startups, "Ultimately I prefer a stable environment, where I have a passionate founder, a passionate leader, willing to share equity, willing to bring people into decision-making, but with divorce clauses."

I tried embedding the video below, but if it doesn't show up, you can see it here. It's only 3:44 long.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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