The professional benefits of marriage have long been extolled. Married couples tend to make more money over their professional lifetimes. And tying the knot can come with a number of perks—financially and socially. Senior executives often prefer the stability associated with the coupled, which can lead to promotions. Married people are said to live longer as well.
Recently published research by Washington University’s Joshua Jackson even suggests that you are more likely to rise the ranks fastest with a “conscientious” spouse; one who is reliable, organized, and good at managing chores and finances.
But where does that leave those Americans who simply haven’t found “the one” yet? In many ways, staying single can do wonders for your career. It gives you more flexibility—you are less likely to feel guilty about spending long hours in the office.
In fact, at certain points in a company’s life, it may be better for the top spot to be filled by a lonesome dove. That’s because the unhitched are more willing to take chances on investment in research and development or mergers, according to recent research. Such efforts can turn a small struggling business into a publicly traded gem. In fact, a number of CEOs without a marriage certificate are at the helm of fast-growing companies.
This is certainly the case in the boom and bust world of startups. These four companies have been aided by the attention, dedication, and attentiveness of their unmarried CEOs. At least most of the time. These four executives have found love; it just doesn’t necessarily include a living, breathing partner.
Travis Kalanick, Uber
When you’re attempting to overtake an industry as resistant to change as taxi service, it’s probably a good idea if you have an affinity for risk. Kalanick, 38, has been resolute and brash, turning Uber into a tech darling in just five years. Along the way, he has battled with local and federal regulators in the U.S. and abroad, as well as labor groups.
Now, as rumors of a potential IPO grow louder—in December, Uber tapped Goldman Sachs to raise $1 billion from the bank’s wealthy clients at a 30% discount to an eventual IPO target valuation of $52 billion—Kalanick and his company face challenges from other, up-in-coming startups, like Lyft, that provide the same service at a lower cost.
Some countries haven’t been as amenable to Uber as most cities in the U.S. have. At the beginning of 2015, Kalanick pulled the plug on Uber service in Spain after the nation’s court ruled that it created unfair competition to local taxi drivers. Thailand has also called for Uber to halt its services because of its use of unlicensed drivers. All of this comes on top of reports of accusations that Uber drivers have acted inappropriately toward or harmed customers.
Often, Kalanick’s rush to respond has gotten him in trouble, like when he reacted to reports that a vice president at Uber suggested that he would dig up dirt on a journalist that was publishing critical pieces about the company. Kalanick apologized for the VP’s response, but he didn’t fire the executive, as many critics called for.
It doesn’t look like Kalanick is planning to slow down anytime soon, though. He was most recently rumored to have had a fling with actress Gwyneth Paltrow. With this much on his plate, starting a family may not be top of mind.
Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com
Hsieh, 41, serves as testament that single people just know how to have more fun. He has turned his online shoe retail operation into a perennial favorite on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list. Amazon bought the company in 2009 for $1.2 billion, but Hsieh still has a lot of room to run Zappos how he sees fit, which includes plenty of booze, parties, and Kilt Fridays. The office environment has produced a number of Zappos marriages.
But not for Hsieh, whose singlehood has left him with plenty of time to focus on the company he built. His days are long. He reportedly holds meetings often from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. In 2010, he wrote a New York Times bestselling business book, Delivering Happiness, in two weeks, and undertook a Las Vegas economic development project in 2012. The project seeks to revitalize the area of the city in which Zappos is headquartered by funneling $350 million into new shops and restaurants.
Don’t expect him to settle down soon, though. Hsieh recently responded to a question from Playboy about the virtues of monogamy:
From a purely evolutionary point of view, the guy who’s monogamous will have fewer copies of his genes in the next generation than a guy who’s not. I think it’s pretty hard to find one partner and call it a day. Using the analogy of friends, why not find just one friend and call it a day? The answer is because you get a different type of connection, different conversations, different experiences with different friends. I would say the same thing is true on the dating side.
Brian Chesky, AirBnB
He’s a 30-something billionaire without a full-time home. It’s probably not a surprise that the AirBNB CEO has yet to tie the knot. He’s too busy traveling, trying out AirBnBs, and growing his business to a reported $10 billion valuation.
AirBNB certainly faces its fair share of growing pains, including allegations of shady customers who either leave their rentals a mess or never leave. The company must also contend with municipal governments, like New York City’s, that have taken issue with AirBNB’s business strategy. Chesky and his firm face legal challenges over apartment tenants’ right to sublease their home for a day or two.
Still, as AirBnB grows up, so might Chesky. He’s reportedly dating, so who knows, wedding bells could be on the horizon.
Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos
Holmes is used to starting early. After all, she founded Theranos, a blood diagnostic company, during her sophomore year at Stanford. Still in her teens, she dropped out of college and developed the concept for what is now a potentially revolutionary force in the diagnostic lab industry. By using a fraction of the amount of blood most labs require, Theranos can test over 200 of the most common blood diagnostics. It has made Holmes, only 30, one of the youngest billionaires in the world.
All the attention on blood tests has left little time for the heart. She recently admitted to USA Today that if she’s married to anyone, it’s her company.