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Conversation with Jim / The CEO/CTO relationship

posted Oct 29, 2012, 10:24 AM by Vishal Jain   [ updated Oct 29, 2012, 10:28 AM ]
Below is a conversation between me and my friend Jim on the CEO / CTO relationship, and how it played out in a RockingChair startup,

me: in the classic ceo/cto model... do you think there's an issue of the fact that the cto is really doing much more hard work than the ceo (pre-customer acq) and that inevitably this would build resentment/inequality/imbalanced motivation between the two?

6 minutes
12:41 PM Jim: haha
12:42 PM the ceo should not be doing less work
  theres a lot to do
 me: it's a fact of life that engineers work harder than anyone else
  other jobs are just easier
 Jim: thats crazy
12:43 PM since you're not an engineer you can't imagine liking engineering; engineers typically can't imagine liking selling
 me: it was way easier for me to go out and interview people about totter than it was for frank to build the damn thing in 10 days
 Jim: err wrong
  he likes it
  you like what you do
  plus that's not a "classic ceo/cto"
12:44 PM me: i've done both. i know what the work imbalance is. yeah in that case i paid him, but that's precisely because i don't think he would have pulled through in a ceo/cto model because he would not have been able to blame the fact he worked harder than me on that i was paying him
12:45 PM Jim: let's not get into it now, but a ceo shouldve done more :P
12:46 PM me: haha it's not like i would take it personally. i do think that if you take people out of the equation for a second, at that point given the goal was to build and test a prototype, that the total amount of effort -- even if it were a 1-person team -- would have been 75% technical, 25% business
  the one way i made up for it was by investing a lot of my time motivating frank.
12:47 PM i literally spent 10-hours a day on skype with him, keeping him in line. i think that's how we finished the gargantuan effort so quickly.
  i was the craiglist slap-in-the-face girl ;-)
12:50 PM Jim: sure, but instead of playing it safe with the tdc test, (ie, a test that can have no terrible result) it might be better to set up a pilot with a company where if you don't deliver it's a big deal
  that's a deal that's hard to do and the job solely of the "ceo"
12:52 PM me: yeah, i guess you don't always have to wait till the prototype's done to start selling. theoretically you can sell-in a beta test with an expected completion date, and use that completion date to push engineering. problem is then these imperfections creep in where you trade off features based on your first beta's needs vs your vision.
12:53 PM Jim: 40-70
 me: true
 Jim: whats the point of doing something you're 100% sure you can do?
12:54 PM ooo, i think that's my new motto
 me: yeah that's quotable
  and only tangentially stolen from colin powell ;-)
 Jim: right