You Know What’s Cool? $1 Billion in Revenue…and Still Run by the Founder

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As 2016 comes to a close, one local company here in Boston is about to cross $1 billion in revenue: athenahealth. Going from zero to $1 billion in revenue is an extraordinary achievement, particularly for a company that is also very profitable (which athenahealth is).

Here is something even more extraordinary – the company is still run by its founder and CEO, Jonathan Bush. In fact, the number two executive in the company, COO Ed Park, is also a founder and is just now stepping down after nearly two decades running the company.

And here is something even more extraordinary still:  look around Boston, and you find that four of our emerging anchor companies have also just recently crossed $1 billion in revenue, are very profitable (except for Wayfair, who is free cash flow positive) and are still being run by their founders. Put this list on one chart, and it’s pretty remarkable:

Company Founder/CEO 2015 Revenue ($M) 2015 Adj EBITDA ($M) MarketCap ($B)
Akamai Tom Leighton 2,197 897 11.3
athenahealth Jonathan Bush 925 184 3.8
TripAdvisor Steve Kaufer 1,492 466 7.2
Wayfair Niraj Shah 2,250 -16 3.2

As 2016 comes to a close, it is worth celebrating the extraordinary achievement of these four tenacious and talented entrepreneurs. At a time when there is a lot of cynicism regarding unicorns and paper-based valuations in Startupland, it is refreshing to see four founders who not only took their company from zero to IPO, but continue to lead their companies to over $1 billion in revenue and beyond.

For more about the stories of three of these companies, you can see a few mini-case studies that I wrote a few years ago here:

Again, hats off to each of these four founder/CEOs. Their stories are definitely worth studying!

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