The Best of Co-founding And How Their Partnerships Worked!

Partnerships in business have created a field of endless possibilities and success for many companies, and although not all entrepreneurs need co-founders, many like Apple, eBay, and Twitter have built their empires through multiple leadership with productive partnerships.


How did these individuals manage to find their business equivalent, and what is their recipe for success? We’re going to look at some of the most successful co-founders and what made their partnerships work.


It’s without a surprise that the list will include long-time friends, classmates as well as relatives. But much like any other relationship, some didn’t kick it off on the right foot. Others are still not amicable, despite all their accomplishments.  


One of the biggest trends in business partnerships is their ability to recognise their individual limitations and have respect for what the others bring to the table. And as you will see, some of these partnerships went on to run the most successful companies in history. Check out what Real Business has found:


Larry Page and Sergey Brin


Company: Google


Year Founded:1998


In 1995, Larry and Sergey met at a Stanford PhD program, however, this partnership wasn’t love at first sight. 


In fact, during the campus tour for doctoral structs, where Brin was Page’s tour guide, the two were in constant dispute throughout the tour. Despite all the bickering, and as fate had it, the two found themselves having to work together on a research project. The basis of Google came from their paper, The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.


Why Their Partnership Works


How it Started:


Page and Brin both have a technological background; from an early age, they both had a fondness of computers and both their parents were university professors. Through their love and passion for data mining, a spark lit and they grew to realise they have similar visions for their company.


Larry and Sergey decided to bring Eric Scmidt on board, and jointly agreed to instill a relaxed environment at the Googleplex. And even though they come from worlds apart, Brin being from Russia and Page, Michigan, there’s no doubt that they are cut from the same cloth.


Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak


Company: Apple Inc.


Year Founded:1976


How it Started:


In 1970, the Steves became friends during a summer job. While Woz was working on building a computer, Jobs saw the potential, and opportunity to sell it.


In an interview with Seattle Times, Woz said that he was merely doing something he was “very good at”. He further explained, “… and the thing that I was good at turned out to be the thing that was going to change the world…Jobs was much more further-thinking. When I designed good things, sometimes he’d say, “We can sell this.” And we did. He was thinking about how you build a company, maybe even then he was thinking, “How do you change the world?”


Why Their Partnership Worked:


The perfect recipe for success isn’t only about the ingredients, putting them together for the cook and voila! It takes both the technical skill and a business foresight. Although Woz, a master of analytics, didn’t see the need to sell his original computer model, the forward thinking of Jobs, led to the perfect business match. Their relationship withstood the test of time, fame and fortune. Woz once said that they are still friends and that they are often talked and that they’ve never had an actual argument. 


Evan Williams and Biz Stone


Company: Twitter


Year Founded: 2006


How it Started:


When Blogger was sold to Google, Evan Williams had been working there, at Blogger, and in the transition, under Google’s reign, he hired Stone. 


And much like some of the best friendships, this one began with them as rivals, Stone explained to AllThingsD. However, their rivalry bloomed into a great friendship with mutual respect. A true testament of their bond became evident when Evan left Google for and Stone followed him. 


Jack Dorsey, an engineer with an idea at, approached the pair and the discussion developed what we know today as Twitter. 


Why Their Partnership Worked:


Blogging is what enriched the duo into creating Twitter as we know it. Both having spent years in the blogging industry, Stone and Williams both had insights on the platform. It was Williams who saw Twitter’s potential, and so he entrusted Biz with the micro-blogging site as a venture. Friendship, mutual respect, and ambition are what encouraged them to stick through and achieve business success.  


Bill Gates and Paul Allen


Company: Microsoft


Year Founded: 1975


How it Started:


From an early age, these two were friends. They both went to Lakeside private school. Both shared a love for computers and hacker partners-in-crime while at high school.


Why Their Partnership Worked:


Mixing friendship and business is often a recipe for disaster, however, thankfully, the pair managed to weather the storm thanks to their shared obsession with computers and drive for entrepreneurship. 


Allen followed Gates to the Boston-area soon after Gates left for Harvard, and they both began hatching their business ideas. Encouraged by Allen, Gates took the plunge, left college and co-founded Microsoft. This billion dollar company spiralled into a nerdy passionate and long-time friendship.   


Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard


Company: Hewlett-Packard


Year Founded: 1939


How it Started:


This duo were classmates in a Stanford engineering program, and upon graduation, Hewlett and Packard took off for a two-week camping trip. The two weeks in the woods with someone can easily drive you crazy, however, these two bonded and become close friends. 


A Stanford professor, Fred Terman, encouraged them and they started HP.


Why Their Partnership Worked:


As best friends with similar passions, strengths and management styles, the two were a perfect mix. Both were managers and could openly get involved in projects, creating a social, supportive work space that had its contradictions at times. Their brilliant work ethic, innovative minds led HP, its staff, and their business partners to thrive.


Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield

Company: Ben & Jerry’s


Year Founded: 1978


How it Started: 


Now he’s something serendipitous: much like Gates and Allen, born four days apart, Cohen and Greenfield were childhood friends. Later, Ben and Jerry met at a high school gym class in 1963, and quickly became joined at the hip. The two even went on double-dates.


Their passion for food, they took a corresponding ice-cream course in 1977, and as soon as they mastered the class, the twosome invested $12,000 and opened their first ice cream shop.


Why Their Partnership Worked:


Their love and passion for food, coupled with a desire to look at business beyond profit, sparked this successful business venture. They are both equally adamant about giving back, and this strongly resonated with their customers. Greenfield always said that money was not what measured their success, but a deep rooted need to contribute and support their community, and that was their bottom line!


Pierre Omidyar and Jeffrey Skoll*


Company: eBay


Year Founded: 1995


How it Started:


It was Omidyar who built the code for eBay. The two, at the time, were merely casual acquaintances. The business venture didn’t necessarily kick off on the right foot with Skool, a recent MBA graduate from Stanford scornfully looking at the auction website. Omidyar admitted in a Time International article that Skoll thought it a “stupid idea” but later agreed to come on board. This made Skoll eBay’s first employee on the payroll and he is the one responsible for writing Omidyar’s business plan. With eBay’s take off, so did their business relationship. Three years in, the two led the auction site to an IPO! 


Why This Partnership Worked:


Democratic values strengthened their business and partnership. It was the same values that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield shared, values of ‘the community’ instead of customers, that encouraged their success.


They too were charitable; they two decided that eBay would invest in a charitable foundation using the pre-IPO stock to share its wealth. Through loyalty to their customers and giving back to the community, the two made their billions. 


*As much as they were business partners, eBay Pierre founded eBay by himself. Working closely with Omidyar and Skoll being Pierre’s first employee, Skoll partners on various aspects of the business, but wasn’t a co-founder.


Real Business vouches for businesses that are led by partnerships that work. We understand the difficulties that come with co-founding and partnerships, however, where there’s a will there’s a way! We’ll be looking out for more upcoming business partners.