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Smaller firms typically are privately-held with no career track. Once a merger occurs, the best senior managers depart, leaving the founder and a clueless acquirer to run the business. It happens all the time.
It really isn't as hard as they make it seem. There are plenty of great managers within most companies, but they are often stifled by higher-level (and sometimes incompetent) managers. It's the "grass is always greener" syndrome. The guys who started the businesses had an idea and took it to market. They were "nobodies" before then but proved they could do it. Look at the number of CEOs and other execs who fail and then go onto another company and fail. Not sure why they can't see talent within their own ranks... but then, that is why they get themselves into these dilemmas.
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