Vinod Khosla penned a great overview of the three phases of a company this weekend. He identifies the hub and spoke phase, the organized chaos phase, the functional management phase.
Once a founder has experienced each of these phases, it’s easy to identify the them in retrospect. But companies don’t transition from one phase to another in discrete steps. Instead, they morph and evolve fluidly into these phases.
Throughout this metamorphosis, two things must remain constant to keep the startup functional: the vision/mission of the company and the culture of the company. Lacking a consistent vision, the startup can enter a tailspin - with a team unclear on the path to pursue. Without the right culture, teams fall apart.
Both of these are responsibilities are those of the founders. Founders are the stewards of vision and culture. And that’s why they are vital to the success of the company at every stage.