Silicon Valley’s boss boys are about to go

Gone billionaires, they emanated the relentless positivity of Silicon Valley. Pinterest is “just getting started,” Airbnb “is in the best hands it’s ever been,” and Instacart has a “huge opportunity ahead of it,” the founders wrote. Mr. Mehta and Mr. Gebbia said they have plans for new projects.

Investors say they anticipate more of these quits from founders who realize they now have to work harder for (relatively speaking) less. “Now they can let certain executives take over and grow it with different incentives,” Cohen said.

Last week, Brad Hargreaves, the founder of Common, a startup that operates community living spaces, announced that he would step down as chief executive and become chief creative officer. The company’s head of real estate, Karlene Holloman, a veteran of the hospitality industry, will take over as chief executive.

The market downturn factored into Mr. Hargreaves’ decision. In times of crisis, he said, it’s good to have a founder at the top of the company who can sell investors, employees and customers a big vision. “Operations don’t really matter,” he said. “Nobody really looks at the bottom line.”

Today’s environment requires someone with Ms. Holloman’s extensive experience and operational skills, he said. “In a tighter time, when operations matter a lot and no one is buying big visions, you want an operator in that seat,” he said.

“A lot of founder-CEOs stay on too long,” he added.

Founders who have stuck out amid the recession so far — and there are many of them, including at Stripe, Coinbase, and Discord — can expect greater demands and more pressure. Stock trading app Robinhood has laid off more than 1,000 staff this year as it loses active customers. Dan Dolev, an analyst at Mizuho Securities, said several investors had privately suggested Robinhood bring in a more experienced executive to help its co-founder, Vlad Tenev. Mr. Tenev cannot be expelled, since he and his co-founder, Baiju Bhatt, together own a majority stake in the company.

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