Andrew Mason speaks onstage during the 15th Annual Webby Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on June 13, 2011.
Andrew Mason speaks onstage during the 15th Annual Webby Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on June 13, 2011. - 
Listen To The Story

Groupon’s board of directors fired the company’s CEO yesterday. Andrew Mason founded the daily deal site. This is, in many ways, a familiar story.

An ideas man builds up a business, takes it public, and then…

“Some kind of infrastructure is needed,” says James Abruzzo, co-founder of the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School. “And clearly that was the case here."

The same thing happened to Steve Jobs. Apple’s board forced him out in the mid-1980s. Something similar happened at Yahoo! Jerry Yang started that company, and when he was CEO, he opposed a takeover bid from Microsoft. That was it.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a dean at the Yale School of Management, remembers Polaroid founder Ed Land’s last days as CEO.

“Analysts were saying, ‘How about the bottom line?’  He said, ‘The bottom line is in heaven.’”

Founders who become executives have vision. That’s a given, but management consultant and venture capitalist Peter Cohan argues they can be blinded by that.

“They think, I created this thing. I’m the only one who can run it.” 

And the fact is, Cohan says, no one is irreplaceable.

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Follow David Gura at @davidgura