Everyone here knows the Fool has always favored founder led companies. So I thought I’d check in on “Saul Stocks” to review leadership in this context. I figured the % would be high but still I was impressed by the number that are not just led by a founder, but co-founders.
Here’s the list…
AXON – The company is led by founder Rick Smith, who, according to their site, founded the company in his garage in 1993 after two friends were shot to death. The company’s President Josh Isner is not a cofounder but has held that role since 2009.
BILL – Is run by CEO, Rene LeCerte who founded the company in 2006. Prior to that he ran the company PayCycle and literally grew up in the finance/accounting industry as his father had his own business in the space.
CRWD – Co-founder George Kurtz has been the CEO since the company’s inception in 2011 and has spent his entire career in computer security, formerly working as an executive at McAfee. His co-founder Dmitry Alperovich left soon after the company went public.
DDOG – The company was co-founded by Olivier Pomel and Alexis Le-Quoc in 2010. Pomel is the CEO, Le-Quoc the CTO. The two worked together prior to founding Data Dog at a company called Wireless Generation which was acquired by News Corp.
GLBE – Was founded in 2013 by Amir Schlachet, Shahar Tamari and Nir Debbi who now serve as CEO, COO and President respectively.
IOT (Samsara) – Sanjit Biswas co-founded the company in 2015 with John BIcket. The two attended school together at MIT co-founded the company, Meraki which was acquired by Cisco.
MNDY – The company was co-founded by Roy Mann and Eran Zinman in 2012. The two now serve to this day as Co-CEOs.
NET – Cloudflare was co-founded in 2009 by current CEO Matthew Prince. Michelle Zatyln, also a co-founder is COO.
OKTA – The company was co-founded in 2009 by Todd McKinnon and Frederick Kerrest. McKinnon is currently CEO, Kerrest Exec Vice Chairman and COO.
TMDX – Was founded by Waleed Hassanein in 1998. He is a doctor who graduated from Georgetown in 1993. After that he did a three year cardiac surgery research fellowship at the highly respected Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which is a “major teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School” according to their site.
TTD – Co-founder Jeff Green has been the CEO since the company was created in 2009. Prior to that he sold an ad-tech company to Microsoft. Has spent his entire career in the ad-tech space. Co-founder and CTO Dave Pickles recently left the company.
ZS – Jay Chaudry founded the company in 2007. Prior to founding ZScaler he founded a company called AirDefense that he sold to Motorola. And prior to that worked as Chief Strategy Officer at a company called Secure computing.
TWO THAT ARE PARTIALLY FOUNDER LED…
ENPH – CEO Badri Kothandaraman has led the company since 2017. It was co-founded by Raghu Belur who remains Chief Products Officer. There’s also a lot of Cypress Semi resumes here, no doubt influenced by Cypress founder TJ Rodgers’ role on the ENPH board.
SNOW – Frank Slootman’s been the CEO and Chairman of the Board since 2019. Slootman is a legend in the industry, author of Amp it Up and titan who sold the first company he ran, Data Domain to EMC for $2.4B and built Service Now into a behemoth that currently sports a market cap of $118 Billion. The leadership team is full of resumes from Slootman’s past success at EMC and Service Now. And co-founder Benoit Dageville still holds the title, President of Product. (CEO Tenure: Roughly 4 years.)
THREE THAT ARE NOT FOUNDER BUT VETERAN LED…
AEHR – Gayn Erickson – Took over in 2012 after career in the industry. The company was founded in 1977 by Rhea Posedel who is Chairman of the Board. Of note Erickson was at HP prior to joining AEHR and tried to acquire the company while at HP. (CEO Tenure: 11 years.)
ELF – Tarang Amin became CEO in 2015. Prior to that he held positions in the pharmaceutical and nutrition industries. The company was co-founded in 2004 by Joseph Shamah and Scott-Vincent Borba whom I note for human interest, gave up all his wealth and became a priest. (CEO Tenure: 8 years)
FSLY – CEO Todd Nightingale joined the board of Fastly in 2022 making him, by far, the least tenured of the leaders listed here. However, he has spent his career in IT, and worked with both ZScaler’s founder Jay Chaudry at AirDefense (a company sold to Motorola) and with IOT’s co-founders at Meraki. After that company was acquired by Cisco he spent over 10 years rising through the ranks to become EVP, GM Enterprise Networking & Cloud. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer science from MIT as well as a Master’s in Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. (CEO Tenure: roughly one year.)
THE BOTTOM LINE
“Relationship equity” is underrated. Great companies are like great bands, the relationships fuel the greatness. The Beatles, Stones, Moody Blues, Kinks, Who, Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Bee Gees, East Street Band … the list goes on and on. You know what you call Paul McCartney without John, George and Ringo? Gilbert O’Sullivan.
And lastly, consider how much this board has been through - the euphoria, desperation, vertigo-inducing heights and stomach-churning drops. If that doesn’t fuel camaraderie and insight I don’t know what does.
The Moody Blues - A Question of Balance - 1970
The Moody Blues - A Question of Balance - 2009