Notoriously mild-mannered Jack Dorsey founded Twitter in 2006, but it wasn't long before there was trouble in paradise. According to a recent (and juicy) Dorsey profile in Vanity Fair magazine, co-founder Evan Williams and the Twitter board forced Dorsey (pictured) out of his position as CEO. Although Dorsey is still the chairman of Twitter, the two reportedly "rarely speak." Awkward.
The late, great Steve Jobs (pictured) founded Apple in 1976, but had a bitter break up with CEO John Sculley 10 years later. Jobs later said that the two men just couldn't agree on the future of the company, and Jobs was ousted (to add insult to injury, Jobs had helped recruit Sculley from Pepsi). But as the fairy tale goes, Jobs was back in the top spot at Apple in 1997, and saw Apple through it's most profitable years.
Perhaps the start-up world's biggest heartbreaker is Facebook mastermind Mark Zuckerberg (pictured left). He and Saverin were Harvard college buddies when they founded Facebook from their dorm room in 2004, along with two other friends. But as the site became a worldwide phenomenon, Zuckerberg and investors reportedly edged Saverin out by diminishing his role in the company. Saverin sued and settled out of court. Their dramatic friendship was portrayed in the 2010 movie The Social Network, which also showed another infamous Facebook split...
Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (pictured), accused Mark Zuckerberg of leaving them high and dry in 2004. Zuckerberg worked with the twin brothers on a social networking project, which later become the center of a high-profile lawsuit. The Winklevii claimed Zuckerberg intentionally mislead them and that he stole the idea of Facebook. After battling Zuckerberg in court for nearly 7 years, the dust seems to have finally settled, as the twins reportedly gave up on legal action earlier this year.
Once upon a time there was a hugely successful tech conference called TechCrunch50, which was created by entrepreneur Jason Calacanis (pictured left) and TechCrunch's Michael Arrington. But after three years of conferences, some bad blood had brewed to a boiling point. The two men split ways for good when AOL bought TechCrunch, and Arrington decided to launch a new conference called TechCrunch Disrupt. Calacanis sued Arrington, claiming he had rights to profits from the AOL deal. Both men wrote public blog posts about split, Arrington calling Calacanis's actions "absurd," and Calacanis writing an entire post called "Why I'm Suing Michael Arrington." Calacanis eventually dropped the suit.
About 30 years ago, Barbara Corcoran and her boyfriend Ray—who allegedly went by the name Ramon Simone—started a small real estate business in New York City. But to the then 29-year-old's surprise, Ramon announced one day he was marrying someone else: Corcoran's secretary. After their personal split, Corcoran decided to split the business too. She took her share of the employees to a new office and formed the Corcoran Group. Corcoran sold the business in 2001 for $66 million, and to this day has no qualms about crediting her break-up (and wanting revenge) as motivation for success.
These two caused an internet tizzy earlier this year when founder Page (pictured right) took the reigns from 10-year CEO Schmidt. While Schmidt remains on the board, his blog post announcing his departure from the role raised eyebrows in the start-up world. To squash rumors of bad blood and silence cynics, Schmidt gave Page a glowing public review, saying he was "ready to lead" and that the "next 10 years under Larry will be even better" than during his own reign.
What seemed to be a classic on-again-off-again relationship ended for good (we think?) this summer. The saga began when Kalin, Etsy's founder, gave up his role as CEO in 2008, but came back just a year later. But alas, the relationship was not meant to be. In July of this year, Etsy CTO Chad Dickerson announced on the company’s blog that he would stepping up as the new CEO, which meant Kalin was out (again). Although Dickerson claimed it was all Kalin's idea to step down, the start-up world has doubts it was amicable.
Rebellion often follows bad splits, and Lodwick's dramatic exit from the video company he founded, Vimeo, was no exception. After reported irreconcilable differences with the company's main investor Barry Diller, Lodwick was fired. How'd he deal with getting booted? A TechCrunch headline from that fateful day in 2007 captures the scene: “Vimeo Founder Fired; Does a Bong Hit.”
Just like in Hollywood, sometimes headlines turn out to be not-so-close to reality. In late 2009, Wired ran a story titled "Aptera Founders Ousted in Boardroom Showdown," which detailed a brutal head-to-head confrontation between Aptera founders Fambro (pictured left) and Anthony and the board of directors of the motor company. A few days later, Popular Mechanics posted a story: "Aptera's False Rumors: Founders Not 'Ousted'—On Vacation." Fambro told the outlet that there was some restructuring, but no break ups, adding: "I think some people read into this situation a little further than they should have." —Nicole Carter