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.  You’ll know if they really want you to stay on the board.

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 at.
  • 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 leave fairly early that stay on the board … just inadvertently create more trouble than they intend.  Not intentionally, in most cases, but they get in the way.  You can still just be a “senior advisor”.  Be that.

Step down and move on, and let the company make the most of your equity.

That’s where your return is.  Not being critical about a company you don’t even work at anymore, and often, haven’t in quite some time.

A related post here:

To a Better Place: When is It Time as CEO/Founder to Move On? (Updated)

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)

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