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More single-founder stories: Overture (Bill Gross), eBay (Pierre Omidyar), Napster (Sean Fanning), Lycos (Michael Mauldin), Amazon (Jeff Bezos), AOL (William von Meister), Digg (Kevin Rose).

Source: "If you’re going to launch a startup, how many friends do you need?": http://buzzpal.wordpress.com/2008/01/06/if-youre-going-to-la...

Lycos was not a single founder startup. It was a weird deal where CMGI bought the technology, turned it into a company, and then hired someone to run it.

Nor was Amazon, really: Bezos had a de facto cofounder called Shel Kaphan, who wrote all the initial code.

If you count early employees as co-founders, then fine (that's probably why you wrote "de facto").


"Over blueberry pancakes at the Sash Mill Cafe in Santa Cruz, Bezos managed to convince one of them, Shel Kaphan, to become employee number one."

They used that phrasing because that's how Amazon's PR people described the situation to them. The reality seems to have been more like two cofounders than boss + employee. Though I would not be surprised if Shel was actually a cofounder in the strict legal sense as well, meaning that he got stock at the time the company was founded. I'll ask him next time I talk to him.

ojbyrne would take issue with you calling Kevin Rose a single founder. ;-)

A bunch of the other ones seem suspect too. Wikipedia lists the founder and first CEO of Lycos as Bob Davis - Michael Mauldin invented it as a research project, but if you go by research project inception and not incorporation, Larry Page is the sole founder of Google.

Be wary of information from random blogs. ;-)

Markus Frind of Plenty of Fish is another

Actually, Napster had a cofounder, Sean Parker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Parker).

Shawn also had an incredible amount of help from Jordan Ritter and Ali Aydar before the company was even a company. He also would have been a lot better as a single-founder, as his co-founder uncle John Fanning took advantage of his inexperience.

Berkshire Hathaway/Warren Buffett. (Though the name at first was not BH)

You're probably thinking of Buffett Partnership, an investment fund which he ran largely by himself, using friends' and family money as initial capital.

Berkshire Hathaway is a textile mill that Buffett turned into an investment company, but by then he had been a successful investor for over 10 years.

I'm talking about the fund that he used to buy BH with.

Charlie Munger helped out Warren a lot. Not sure at what point their partnership started -- but it was before Buffet was making a ton of money.

I believe he started working with Munger 20 years after he started his own fund.

...which was around when Berkshire Hathaway turned from a textile manufacturer to an investment vehicle.

It's hard to lump financials in with tech startups, though. Technically, when he Buffett started the Buffett partnership, he had lots of cofounders. The structure of an investment fund is a single managing partner (who makes the decisions) and then lots of limited partners (who put up the money). In the eyes of the law, they're all cofounders.

If you go by practical instead of legal definitions - who provided the know-how? - then Buffett's early partner was effectively Benjamin Graham. After all, it was at Benjamin Graham's firm that Buffett first learned about investing, and Graham served as a mentor long afterwards.

Investors/mentors are not cofounders.

He and Munger were friends and colleagues earlier than that. I think they were in contact in the 50's.

I'm not sure about that. If I remember correctly from the handful of biographies I've read, I believe they met personally later than that.

max levchin claims to have started slide without a co-founder

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