Here’s what first-generation Big Tech founders are up to these days, from Jack Dorsey to Jeff Bezos

  • The first generation of big tech founders is stepping down
  • Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, stepped down this week, and Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, became co-CEO. Those two are not alone.

Google, Amazon, Netflix, and many more large tech companies have impacted how we live and have achieved immense financial success. The other common characteristic of many of these firms is that their founders no longer have control over them; either they have resigned, begun to share power with others, or, in some cases, were fired.

Twitter- In the wake of Jack Dorsey’s announcement that he was leaving Twitter last week, the spotlight shifted to Parag Agrawal, the Indian-born CEO who will now run one of the world’s most influential social media companies.

Twitter’s appointment of Agrawal as its top executive was interpreted as a rise of Indian executives at the big tech companies, which is right in a sense. Still, it’s also a sign that the first-generation founders have scaled the businesses to their full potential and are now on to something bigger.

Several big tech moguls, including Bill Gates and Jack Dorsey, have stepped down or begun handing over power to others. Silicon Valley is looking to groom a new generation of successors (or managers, not entrepreneurs) to run the firm in a corporate style and keep it growing, even if most of today’s biggest tech companies are far from their peaks.
Despite their size and market power, many tech companies still refer to themselves as “startup sanctuaries” if the CEO is young, ambitious, and can solve problems, which indicates that Americans enjoy collaboration and are ready to adopt a new way of thinking.

Amazon – A former director of Amazon Web Services, Andy Jassy, officially took over Jeff Bezos’ role as CEO of Amazon in July 2021.

Apple – Tim Cook temporarily ran Apple while Steve Jobs was undergoing medical treatment in 2009. Cook was appointed CEO later after Jobs returned after another leave in 2011. Cook announced in 2021, just before his tenth anniversary as Apple CEO, he wouldn’t be leading the company for the next decade.

ByteDance – Yiming Zhang, CEO of the company that owns TikTok, has announced he will step down this summer. According to a letter he sent internally, he was concerned about “relying too heavily on ideas I had before I started the business.”

Google – Larry Page and Sergey Brin joined Alphabet to oversee its various properties earlier this year. Several of the company’s executives stepped down in the reshuffle, leaving Sundar Pichai as the new CEO, and in 2019, Pichai also became the CEO of Alphabet.

Instagram – After major disagreements with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced they stepped down in September 2018.

Microsoft – Gates left Microsoft in several stages throughout the years, resigning as CEO in 2000, leaving his full-time role in 2008, and ultimately leaving his position on the board last year. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO and chairman, currently leads the company.

Netflix – Ted Sarandos became co-CEO with Reed Hastings of Netflix in July 2020. Sarandos had already contributed to the company’s leadership for twenty years (he had been in charge of its original programming), so his arrival as CEO was just a formalization of the role he had already played.

Selling power – As reported by CNBC, Taylor will be the new co-CEO of enterprise tech giant Salesforce. He replaced Jack Dorsey as chairman of Twitter’s board on Monday. A former deputy of Marc Benioff, the company’s founder, and CEO has gained more power again, but it isn’t the first time that happened.

All the founders listed above were men who were replaced by other men, which is not a good trend. Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Meta, and Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, are notable women in power. Both have not indicated that they will be leaving their posts anytime soon as of this writing.


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