How do you decide on the CEO if you haven’t yet

One from the email outbox, regarding a founder who asked about focus for each cofounder, as they were feeling they were duplicating work.

My answer:

Think about the three things that are most important for your business at the moment, and where you spend the most time.

I would assume it is something like building product, fundraising/long term planning, and distribution/getting users/talking to users are your main priorities at the moment. This roughly translates into CEO, CTO, and COO. Now, fixing the exact positions and names to individuals now is probably overkill, but between those areas, try to decide who is best.

  • Who would best present the company at a conference? Who would talk to investors and sell the company best? Who would spend time hiring senior folks?
  • Who makes the best decisions about technology and product? Who is the best coder? Who understands implications of big product and technology decisions best?
  • Who understands the user psychology best? Who figures out the smartest way to get more users?

On top of these – who enjoys doing what?

Now, you might not know all the answers to these questions, but try turning them around. That means, think about who is most likely to be better at it that the others. Think about which parts of these questions who would like to know more about, learn more about, and be good at.

You can still change the exact area of focus later, but these three things are what needs to get done first. Thus, picking the best for each area is key. You will still need to find a good way of dividing decision power, but having each area with one of you as the “Chief Of” will be very helpful.