Partnerships that work usually have a solid yin/yang.  It is about being complimentary.

Fred and I have done countless projects together.  We respect each other’s decisions, stay in our lane most of the time, and are extremely complimentary of each other’s interests.  It has worked for many years.

I am fascinated with partnerships.  Ones that work forever and then one day they don’t.  Is it that they drove into the wrong lane too many times?

When co-founders are both product people the probability of both of them lasting many rounds of capital rounds are slim.  If one is a product person and the other is a great operator or manager, then the chances are much better.  Together they balance each other out.

We can point to so many partnerships that worked.  I am not sure that the business end of the partnership would have had the same success without the creative end and visa-versa.  Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, YSL and Pierre Berge, Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy, Charles and Ray Eames and there are obviously more but the success of partnerships works across many verticals.

I have invested in singular founders but there is definitely something great about having someone else next to you and even better if they are the ying to your yang.  It is the same for projects.  Having someone at your side who is interested in the same end product who has a different set of skill sets is a real bonus.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Kirsten Lambertsen

    What you say about yin yang is so so true for creative projects. I’ve been working on a writing project. I thought eventually I wouldn’t need an editor. Turns out, I can’t imagine working without one (a good one) now.

  2. LE

    Ones that work forever and then one day they don’t. Is it that they drove into the wrong lane too many times?Partnerships change when people change. This is also what many people who end up getting divorced understand when they go through it. And I am not by the way talking about things like cheating either I am talking about either party changing as they get older or people not clearly representing who they are at the start. (I could talk for hours on this also having dated a bit after divorce.)Anyway here is a business example. My father and my uncle were partners. It was an ideal partnership. My dad took care of the business part and my uncle took care of the warehouse and factory and did all the traveling. This was a great system and both liked it and the business did well. Neither wanted the others job and both depended on the other.So what happened?Well my cousin entered the business after college. My Dad taught him everything he knew (about that business and about real estate). My cousin sopped it all up and my Dad loved to teach and didn’t hold anything back. It was good for both parties. But then my Dad suffered a heart attack. And so my cousin had to step in and do his job. My uncle seeing that his son could do what my father did started angling later to push my Dad out of the business. Just like that. I don’t need you he thought. And besides this way I can have more for my son and my other son and his family.And that is how it ended. Perfect partnership until that one event. All because my uncle could then rely on someone else.Just like that.Funny biggest mistake my Dad made on the split was turning down the offer to take all the real estate instead of some of the real estate and half the business (which he ended up selling back to my uncle a few years down the road). Go know.