Q: Dear SaaStr: How Do You Split Up Founder Shares?

It’s a question for the ages.

First, let’s note that most successful SaaS startups do not have equal founder splits. Less than 15% do. That data here:

At the Top SaaS Companies, Founder-CEOs Own ~15% at IPO. And Most Co-Founders Are Not Equal (And That’s OK).

Second, note that some founders leave. It’s important to have a thoughtful vesting schedule that incents folks that do stay and build something big to have an outsized share. More on that here:

A Simple Commitment Test For You And Your Co-Founders

Third, in the end, you have to try to do what’s fair. If one founder really started it and did most of the work getting it off the ground, it probably makes sense for them to have a 2:1, 3:1, even 8:1 ratio to other co-founders.

As you can see below, for founders that go all the way together to IPO, the average equity ratio is about 2:1 between CEO and Co-Founder #2:

Also note that many founder-CEOs that stay all the way to IPO get additional grants, including the CEOs of Slack, Box, and more.  That’s less about being the founder and more about staying the CEO for a second decade.

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