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Big tech’s first generation of founders starts to step aside

Big tech’s first generation of founders starts to step aside


The people who started Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft and more are passing the baton

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Massive tech companies like Google, Amazon, Netflix, and more have had a huge impact on the way we live our lives, and have had incredible levels of financial success. Another thing many of these companies have in common is that their founders are no longer necessarily in control; they’ve either stepped down, started sharing power with others, or in some cases possibly even been pushed out.

This week alone, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO, and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff became a co-CEO. They’re not alone.

It’s probably worth noting that all of the founders listed above were men, and were replaced by men, which isn’t a great trend. There are a few notable women in power — Meta’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. As of this writing, neither has indicated whether they plan to depart their posts any time soon.

There are, of course, exceptions to the trend. The most notable is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s complete control over Meta. He told The Verge in October that he doesn’t have plans to give up his job, and it’d be pretty much impossible for shareholders to force him out, thanks to the company’s stock structure. Aside from Zuckerberg, a couple of other CEOs come to mind: Jensen Huang is still in charge of Nvidia (until it replaces him with a digital AI avatar), Tencent co-founder Ma Huateng still acts as CEO and chairman of the company, and Snapchat is still helmed by Evan Spiegel.

Obviously, tech companies can survive and thrive without their founders — Microsoft and Apple are the two most valuable public companies in the world.

Updated December 1st, 3:30PM ET — Added information about Tencent and Alibaba, and about female leaders.