Not all entrepreneurs need co-founders, but many successful companies — including Apple, eBay, and Twitter — were built by multiple leaders with productive relationships.
How did these individuals find their business counterparts? And what made their combined skill sets a recipe for success?
Not surprisingly, many were long-time friends, classmates, or relatives. Others, however, did not get along initially. Some still are not amicable, despite their joint achievements.
There is a common trend: the most well-rounded pairs recognised their individual limitations and respected what the other could bring to a partnership. Many of these duos have gone on to run some of the most successful businesses of our time.
During a campus tour for doctoral students, Brin was Page's guide-- and they bickered the entire time. Despite their quarrel, the two found themselves working on a research project together. Their paper, 'The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,' became the basis for Google.
Why their partnership works: Sergey and Larry have similar technology backgrounds; they fell in love with computers at an early age and had university professors for parents. They bonded over their passion for data mining and grew to have similar visions for their company.
Page and Brin made the joint decision to bring Eric Schmidt on board, and to instill a laid-back atmosphere at the Googleplex. They may have been born on opposite sides of the world (Brin from Russia and Page from Michigan), but Sergey and Larry are cut from the same cloth.
Year Founded: 2006
How their partnership was formed: Evan Williams had been working at Blogger when it was sold to Google. Under Google's new reign, Williams hired Stone.
'We started out as rivals but became great friends,' Stone explained to AllThingsD. 'We really respected each other. When Evan left (Google for Odeo.com) I was like, 'What?? You're Leaving me?' So I followed him.'
The pair was approached by Jack Dorsey, an Odeo engineer with an idea. This discussion developed into Twitter.
Why their partnership works: Having both spent a decade in the blogging business, Stone and Williams are equally knowledgeable about the platform. Williams realised Twitter's potential and entrusted Biz with the micro-blogging site as a side project. Mutual respect, camaraderie and ambition have encouraged the two to stick together and achieve business success.
Source: All Things Digital
Year Founded: 1939
Spending two weeks in the woods with the same person would drive most people insane. Instead, Hewlett and Packard became close friends.
Shortly after, with the encouragement of Stanford professor Fred Terman, they started HP.
Why their partnership worked: Hewlett and Packard were best friends with similar strengths and managements styles; they complimented each other. As managers, Bill and Dave were openly involved in projects. They created a social, supportive work environment that contradicted the times. It was their innovative work ethic that enabled HP, its employees, and their business partnership to thrive.
Company: Ben & Jerry's
Year Founded: 1978
How their partnership was formed: Like Gates and Allen, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were childhood friends. Born four days apart, they met during high school gym class in 1963. They quickly became inseparable and even double-dated.
Sharing a love of food, the pair took a correspondence course in ice-cream making in 1977. After mastering the course, the twosome made a $12,000 investment and opened their first ice cream shop, Ben & Jerry's.
Why their partnership works: Ben and Jerry were able to turn their friendship into a successful business thanks to a joint passion for food and a desire to do more than just profit.
The pair are adamant about giving back to the community, and this resonates with their customers. Greenfield has said, 'We measured our success not just by how much money we made, but by how much we contributed to the community. It was a two-part bottom line.'
Year Founded: 1995
How their partnership was formed: Skoll and Omidyar were casual acquaintances when Omidyar built the code for eBay.
Skoll was the first employee on the payroll and was hired to write Omidyar's business plan. As eBay began to take off, so did their business relationship. The pair led the auction site to an IPO just 3 years later.
Why their partnership works: Skoll and Omidyar share democratic values which has strengthened their business and their partnership. According to the LA Times, 'They didn't talk about customers; they talked about 'the community.''
The two were also charitable. 'Shutting the community out of EBay's upcoming IPO -- a practical necessity -- seemed ungrateful,' the LA Times reports. 'So they decided that EBay would endow a charitable foundation with pre-IPO stock and share its wealth that way.'
Loyalty to customers and giving back to the community are values that have made the pair billionaires.
*Although they were business partners, eBay was solely founded by Pierre Omidyar. As Pierre's first employee, Skoll worked very closely with him and partnered on many aspects of the business, but he was not a co-founder.
Year Founded: 1968
How their partnership was formed: Moore and Noyce were rebels. They were two of the 'traitorous eight,' a group that left Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory to begin their own rival company. Shortly after, Moore and Noyce united to create their own business, Intel.
Why their partnership works: Noyce, co-inventor of the microchip, was the visionary and inspiration for Intel. Moore was avid in technology. The two talents joined forces to create a laid-back company built on cutting-edge innovation.
Company: Procter and Gamble
Year Founded: 1837
How their partnership was formed: Most in-laws can't stand each other. For William Procter and James Gamble, marrying the Noris sisters led to one heck of a business partnership. Both were entrepreneurs, a candle and soap maker respectively, but had never met. Once they became related, their father-in-law coaxed them into creating a company.
Why their partnership worked: Family and business values brought them together. Procter and Gamble helped each other create mass quantities of their products which led to a distribution deal with the U.S. army. From there, the two reaped the benefits of their partnership.
Source: PG Corporate
Year Founded: 1995
How their partnership was formed: Like Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Yahoo's founders met at Stanford's PhD program in 1994.
According to Entrepreneur.com, the pair first worked together on a project designing computer chips. It was as dull as it sounds, so Yang and Filo skipped class to surf the web. Eventually, they began keeping tabs of their favourite sites. They organised them under topics, and their lists morphed into Yahoo!
Why their partnership worked: A mutual passion for the web united Yang and Filo. They found themselves spending 20 hours a day scouring websites for fun. Eventually Stanford punted them off campus because their 'lists' continually crashed the campus' system. It was then that Yang and Filo realised they had a business on their hands, decided to stick together, and received funding from Sequoia Capital.
Yang told Entrepreneur.com, 'Both Dave and I realise that we want to be contributors to Yahoo! The inevitable fact is that we want the company to get to the point where it perhaps doesn't need us…where it's on its own. At that point, it will have grown enough for us to say we're successful.'
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