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Virtually every time VCs talk about how they identify groundbreaking startups, they mention the formative role of a powerful founder-CEO. And looking at the history of famously successful startups of the last several decades — from Apple to Microsoft to Oracle to Facebook — it seems clear they have a point.
Yet looking at the recent spate of IPO filings from high-profile venture-funded companies like Pandora, LinkedIn and Homeaway, the trend actually seems to be one of smaller ownership stakes for founders and, in some cases, reduced leadership roles. Overall, it seems like VC stakes are bigger and founders have already parted with the bulk of their holdings, either through secondary transactions or the dilutive effects of multiple funding rounds.