It takes guts to start a company. It takes even more to know when to step down running that same company.
Founders are getting bounced from their jobs left and right these days, from George Zimmer at Men's Wearhouse to Lululemon's Chip Wilson. It happens all the time, mostly because leaders who started a business don't have the skillset to run it once it grows up.
So it is refreshing to see resignation of Moz founder Rand Fishkin.
Fishkin loves Moz. He founded the online marketing and analytics company in 2004, and, thanks largely to his charisma, leadership and smarts, Moz grew from a small consultancy into a big-time enterprise.
But Fishkin, who describes himself as the Wizard of Moz, now says he doesn't love his job. So he won't be running the company he loves anymore.
“Being a CEO at a 10-person startup, a 30-person startup, and even up to ~75 people at Moz was a truly enjoyable experience,” he writes in a blog post. But the growth from ~75 to ~135 today has been less fun for me. I’m still learning a tremendous amount, but I’m being challenged to such a degree on issues like organizational development, HR, conflict resolution, process building, and morale that I feel out of my depth, and poorly suited, especially from an emotional resiliency perspective, to meeting my obligations.”
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Fishkin is turning over the reins to Sarah Bird, Moz's president and chief operations officer. Fishkin will stay with Moz, continuing to be its driving creative force.
Fishkin's move is disappointingly rare in business. Many founders outlive their welcome because they lose their passion. Fishkin is re-investing in his passion, deciding to stay on to do the creative roles he does best, and admitting his shortcomings.
“I want to do what I love and what I’m good at, and I believe I’ll be healthier and happier and Moz will be better served by me taking that role,” Fishkin wrote in a memo to his staff. “Sadly, it’s not what a CEO needs to do at a 100+ person company and definitely not at 300 or 500+ (which we might be someday).”