Dear SaaStr: I am leaving a startup I co-founded on good terms with both the company and the remaining team. Should I resign my board seat?
You should. If they really don’t want you to leave the board — they will tell you.
It’s always awkward when ex-founders, ex-CEOs, etc. remain on the board, at least 90% of the time. The only general exception is a CEO that partially retires once a startup is fairly big to an active chairperson role. But even there, sometimes it can be a distraction:
- First, things will change. As you leave your operating role, the company will a year or two be very different from the company you worked out.
- Second, the Board is the CEO’s boss. Having an ex-colleague as your boss is full of issues and micro-conflicts.
- Third, it creates tension & distractions all around. Even if you don’t see it. This helps no one.
I’ve generally seen founders that quit fairly early that stay on the board just inadvertently create more trouble than they intend. You can still just be a “senior advisor”.
Step down and move on, and let the company make the most of your equity.
That’s where your return is.
A related post here:
(note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)