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The Incredible Importance of Being a Founder

[qi:_earth2tech] The recent lawsuit filed last month by Tesla founder Martin Eberhard alleging the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, is trying to appropriate the legacy of being the electric car startup’s founder, might be the equivalent of Silicon Valley’s version of the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit, but it raises some interesting questions: What does it mean to be a founder, and why is the status of a founder so important to entrepreneurs?

A founder isn’t just a concept — someone who created or invented a company — it’s also a title that can be negotiated. It’s not so uncommon for someone who joins a company shortly after the original founder to request a co-founder title. Companies are often created by groups of co-founders who have agreed to share the title, regardless of whether one of them pulled more weight with the kernel of the idea. But if there ends up being bad blood among original team members, then the odds naturally increase that there will be a debate over who are considered to be founders.

That’s because the status of a founder carries all sorts of weight financially — for both increased equity and the person’s future ability to start more companies and generate wealth — and socially, in terms of reputation and the notion of how much the person has contributed to society. Founding companies is attached to creating progress (either in a niche market or on a larger scale), and that’s something that is highly valued, particularly in U.S. culture — going as far back as the Founding Fathers. While we won’t pretend to know the technicalities of the Tesla lawsuit, the passion behind founder status is something a lot of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley can understand. Read the full story on

3 Responses to “The Incredible Importance of Being a Founder”

  1. Founder, at least to me, means the person who originally thought of the idea or provided resources to enable that idea to take hold. As such, I agree, they must be there from almost the very beginning before the company gains traction.