Founders/CEOs Who Go from Idea to Billions All Have One Trait

A few months ago, I started thinking about what traits founders/CEOs who take a company from idea to public-market company worth billions possess. It’s a small group of people, as the number of companies that reach hundreds of millions or billions in annual revenue is small relative to the total number of companies founded.

After spending time learning about people who’ve accomplished this, I see one clear trait. These people were obsessive about a single problem. They weren’t entrepreneurs who wanted to build a company but weren’t sure what problem they wanted to solve. Rather, they’d been thinking about a problem intensely and decided they wanted to solve it.

It's hard to scale a company to billions and take it public. Along the way, founders will usually get an offer to sell if the company is doing well. To reject the offer and the financial windfall associated with it and take a company public is a hard decision. To continue as a public-company CEO and endure all the scrutiny from public-market investors isn’t for the faint of heart, either. This requires a vision and level of commitment that founders aren’t likely to have if they weren’t obsessive about the problem they’re solving.

I’ll keep looking as I study more founders/CEOs of public companies, but I’ve yet to find a founder of a public company who was a founder in search of problem before starting their company.