Jun 21, 2017 03:37 PM IST | Source:

Five entrepreneurs who were asked to leave their own company

This week, TVF's founder Arunabh Kumar who was accused of sexual harassment stepped down as CEO of company. In the US, a committee appointed by Uber's board recommended trimming down of 'role and responsibilities' of CEO Travis Kalanick.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick this week resigned from the company he cofounded in 2009, upon a 'request' by the company's board and some of its major investors.

A committee appointed by Uber's board this month had recommended trimming down of 'role and responsibilities' of co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick

In an email to employees on how to conduct during events which surfaced recently and an earlier brawl with a San Francisco-based Uber driver, Kalanick was accused of behaviour not expected from a leader.

Closer home, in India, founder of Mumbai based content startup TVF Arunabh Kumar stepped down as CEO. He was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, which led to a police investigation. Dhawal Gusain, COO of TVF has assumed the CEO role.

However, these are not the first instance when a founder was over-powered by the board of a company.

Here are the five instances when founders were fired from their own company:

George Zimmer: Men’s Wearhouse

Zimmer who is widely recognised for appearing in his company’s TV commercials speaking the tagline "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it," certainly would not have liked the way he was fired as he could not guarantee his position in his the company he founded.

Zimmer founded Men’s Wearhouse in 1973 and served as CEO until 2011. He held the position of Executive Chairman till 2013 when eventually the board members showed the door to him.

Steve Jobs: Apple 

Not always the CEO you appoint becomes the person responsible for firing you. Steve Jobs, founder of one of the most successful companies in the world was fired from his company in 1985 following a power struggle with John Sculley, the CEO he recruited. However, he returned to the company 12 years later and held the position of CEO till 2011.

Ouster from Apple was perhaps a blessing in disguise. While out of Apple, he went on to found Pixar—one of the most successful animation studio with six Academy Awards, and NeXT which was later acquired by Apple itself.

Sandy Lerner: Cisco

Sandy Lerner was fired in 1990 from the company she had co-founded with her (then) husband. It was a classic case where losing control to venture capitalist in the company can lead to unexpected situations.

Shortly after Cisco, now a multi-billion dollar company, went public, Lerner was ousted by the board led by Sequoia Capital's Don Valentine.

Martin Eberhard: Tesla

Before Tesla was synonymous with Elon Musk, Martin Eberhard held the position of CEO in the company. He co-founded the company in 2003 and was its CEO till 2007.

Allegedly, the board held a meeting without Eberhard and made a decision to replace him. He was replaced by another early investor Michael Marks.

Andrew Mason: Groupon

“After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention.”

This is what Andrew Mason, who founded Groupon in 2006, wrote in his resignation letter after he was fired in 2013.

Mason led the company to reach the revenue mark of USD 800 million in 2010. However, because of a series of bad decisions, the trust of the board deteriorated in him and eventually, he was shown the door.
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