How do tech founders keep control over the core technology as their company grows?


Take for example, Google:

As I understand, the search engine was started as a research project.

(by the way, was it patented or the code is fully open through the contents of the respective thesis work?)

But during all consecutive successes (initial investors, IPO, growth) - how did the founders manage to keep the main technology in their hands?

They hired a lot of new engineers to work on the core technology, while they did a lot of other non-technical stuff themselves (business relations, investments, marketing, etc.).

Taking that into account, there is some probability that now the founders and initial developers of the main Google's technology are:

  • vaguely understand how the current version of the core system works (because they are not just the developers now);
  • have employees that have more control over the core system's technology than the founders have.

Is that true?

If it is true, isn't it dangerous for the founders to give up control in such way?

How can this be fixed?

Technology Founders

asked May 17 '11 at 20:58
9 points

2 Answers


Even if you knew exactly how Google ranked it's searches and could program it, it still wouldn't matter because you would never get a strong userbase to turn your technology into a business.

Google happened across a huge problem (crappy search) and came up with a novel solution at just the right moment. Then, they incrementally built a business around the technology, and managed the infrastructure. Part of the reason why Google is successful now (besides that they have a good search algorithm) is that they rarely go down and have an organization full of the most talented individuals to back up all their product offerings.

There was a search engine spun off by ex-Googlers called Cuil a few years back. They raised $33M (more than Google's initial $25M) and have since shut down the project. The site was prettier and built probably using the same core technology as Google. It never took off though because it just couldn't compete with a giant.

My point is - Technology is an important first step, but in business everything boils down to execution.

answered May 17 '11 at 23:39
Andy Cook
2,309 points
  • "because it just couldn't compete with a giant" Or the name is not that memorable :) – Ross 13 years ago


It doesn't matter. You could setup a burger stand and worry about losing control to employees stealing cash or eating burgers. Any business has to find and hire trustworthy people. It is a risk of business.

They would not be jetting around the world in private planes or have piles of cash if they decided to stay in the garage and not lose 'control'.

answered May 18 '11 at 01:02
1,231 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Technology Founders