Is the young tech founder an anomaly?

by Mathew on May 1, 2008 · 1 comment

My friend Paul Kedrosky over at Infectious Greed loves nothing better than a nice juicy research report or scientific study with lots of juicy data points in it (the way some people are with Tim Horton’s double-double coffees and apple fritters, Paul is with data). So anyway, he’s got a post up about one from the Kauffman Foundation — a private fund he is an advisor to — that looks at the median age of founders of technology companies with at least 20 employees and over $1-million in revenue.

The actual study itself (which is here) is about the level of education that most successful company founders have, but Paul was more interested in the age thing, in part because of a series of posts that Fred Wilson wrote about how most of the entrepreneurs he meets are in their 30s and how that could be because young people have a mindset that makes it easier to be entrepreneurs, and that made a lot of people mad. As someone who is… well, not in their 30s any more, I must confess that I was kind of interested in those posts of Fred’s too.

So the data from the Kaufmann study shows that the median age for founders is 39 — and according to the preamble to the study, twice as many were older than fifty as were younger than 25. The comments on Paul’s post are well worth a read as well (as usual), since they continue the debate. Is it something about the Web startups that Fred meets — the ones without much in the way of revenue or business models — that they attract younger founders? Do older founders not need as much in the way of VC money, so they never see people like Fred?

One of the authors of the study even gets involved in the comment thread, at Paul’s urging, and responds to some of the points. Fascinating stuff. My friend Leigh has some thoughts about it too.

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