Silicon Valley strongly believes in the founder mythos: That is, founders know best.
So it’s no surprise that many founders have returned to their companies as CEOs several years down the line, whether to give them a critical kick in the pants or to save them from near disaster.
Here are 10 tech founders who returned to go down with the ship or patch the holes to keep it alive.
Larry Page, Google
Larry Page took a decade off between his CEO stints.
Founded in 1998, Page and his co-founder Sergey Brin had been leading Google until the duo brought in Eric Schmidt to take over as CEO in 2001.
Schmidt took Google through an IPO and increased its profits to more than $2.5 billion. Page, though, thought Google needed a kick in the pants. In January 2011, he stepped back in and made a lot of changes, including appointing clear leaders for each of Google’s business divisions and getting rid of a bunch of underperforming products.
The stock has nearly doubled since he took over.
Page remained CEO of Google until the company transformed into Alphabet, a conglomerate which includes the core Google business as one of several separate companies, alongside more experimental projects. Page is the CEO the new company, while his lieutenant Sundar Pichai leads the new, smaller Google.
Steve Jobs, Apple
- Alessia Pierdomenico / Reuters
In what’s one of the best turnaround stories for a company, Steve Jobs was notoriously canned by the company he founded in 1985.
He wasn’t done yet.
In the 12 years that followed, Apple found itself operating at a loss and inching towards bankruptcy. The company hired Jobs back in 1997 to save the company.
Jobs orchestrated a partnership with Microsoft to invest in $150 million in Apple. A year later, the company introduced the iMac and, for the first time since 1995, returned to profitability.
The rest is history.
Michael Dell, Dell Computers
Michael Dell founded his eponymous company in his dorm room at the University of Texas. After officially incorporating his company in 1984, Dell served as CEO for two decades, growing it to be the largest PC maker in the world by 2001.
In 2004, Dell handed over the keys to the kingdom in to Kevin Rollins, who was then president, but the tenure was short-lived.
Dell returned as CEO of the company in 2007 and eventually bought it back from the public market in 2013. At the time, Dell was the largest company in terms of revenue to go from public to private.
Jerry Yang, Yahoo
- Yahoo! via flickr
Jerry Yang’s path from founder to return as CEO was perhaps one of the most troubled – or at least it appeared so at the time.
Yang co-founded the internet company with David Filo in 1995, but he didn’t move into the role of CEO until 2007.
During his tenure, he infamously blew a takeover a $44.6 billion takeover bid from Microsoft in 2008 after negotiations fell apart and he didn’t want to sell. The board replaced him with Carol Bartz in 2009, then went through two more short-lived CEOs before hiring Marissa Mayer in January 2012.
However, Yang ultimately got the last laugh. A large share of Yahoo’s value is thanks to the Alibaba investment Yang made in 2005. The Yahoo stock also went above the $33 takeover mark that Microsoft was asking, although it’s since fallen below that price point once again.
Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn
- Bloomberg TV
In 2003, Reid Hoffman founded and then led LinkedIn through its four years. After growing it to more than nine million members, he appointed Dan Nye as the new CEO in 2007.
Nye only served two years at the helm before a management shake-up resulted in Hoffman re-taking the role in December 2008.
Hoffman’s return as CEO was only a short six months. Jeff Weiner, who had joined the company as president in the management shake-up, was quickly appointed CEO in July 2009 and has stayed in the position since.
Steve Huffman, Reddit
10 years ago, Steve Huffman co-founded Reddit in his dorm room and led the site as its original CEO.
After the sale to Condé Nast a year later, Huffman later started a new company, travel site Hipmunk.
In early July, though, Reddit users protested interim CEO Ellen Pao’s move to fire an employee who led their AMA sessions. The site soon found itself in an uproar as users rebelled and locked down several subreddits. It was the last straw in Pao’s tumultuous tenure and Huffman returned to the company.
Interestingly, like Dorsey, Huffman has remained in a critical leadership position of his other company. Huffman is still CTO of Hipmunk.
Sean Rad, Tinder
- Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch
Sean Rad co-founded Tinder, the swiping dating app, in 2012.
Two years later, Rad stepped away from the CEO position because the company was looking for a more experienced, “Eric Schmidt-like person” as the company’s next CEO. However, insiders told Forbes at the time of Rad’s original departure that Tinder’s recent sexual-harassment lawsuit was also to blame for Rad’s leaving the company.
Either way, Rad’s brief respite from CEO didn’t last long. Chris Payne was appointed CEO in March 2015, but only lasted five months in the position.
As of August 2015, Rad is back in the top position.
Mark Pincus, Zynga
- Scott Olson/Getty Images
Zynga took off like a rocket in 2007 thanks to its creation of Farmville, but it hasn’t sustained that momentum.
Founder Mark Pincus stepped down from the CEO role in 2013. Former Microsoft and EA exec Don Mattrick stepped in try to turn the company around and make it less reliant on Facebook. The turnaround didn’t work to revive the company.
With worsening finances, Pincus retook the role of CEO in April 2015. “We need to get back to being the leader in mobile data and analytics, which leads to the best product management in our games,” Pincus told the New York Times at the time. “I think I bring a DNA and passion, in that respect.”
Rob Kalin, Etsy
Rob Kalin founded Etsy in 2005 and remained its leader until July 2008. It was a short break, though, and Kalin returned to the CEO role in 2009.
He left the company again in 2011, when he passed the title on to then-CTO Chad Dickerson. It was Dickerson who took the crafting marketplace public, and Kalin has practically been written out of the company’s history.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter
- Reuters/Mike Blake
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter who came up with the idea for 140 characters, is back at the helm of the CEO.
Dorsey was the social network’s first CEO after it launched in 2006, but was fired two years later in 2008 and instead offered a “passive chairman role and silent board seat.” He left and went on to create Square, the financial payments company in 2010. But he didn’t stop there. He was reported to have launched a whisper campaign to get then-CEO Ev Williams fired and replaced by Dick Costolo in 2010.
Costolo stayed as Twitter CEO and took the company public during his tenure, but stepped down on July 1, 2015. Dorsey served as interim CEO in the meantime before being named the real thing in October.
Besides being a founder returning as CEO, Dorsey holds another rare position: he’s CEO of two companies at the same time.