Dear SaaStr: What Are Your Thoughts on Co-CEOs?

Like many things, I’ve mellowed a bit on this over time.

I traditionally thought co-CEOs were a terrible idea. Everyone needs to know who’s the boss in the end. Who’s on the hook for raising capital, managing the board, firing and hiring the executives, etc. I thought a CEO and a President were OK, for example, but two CEOs was just a bunch of headaches in the making.

But … since then, I think I’ve learned all super successful startups follow similar growth paths, but at the same time, they are all exceptions.  They all do it a little bit differently, even as they scale in similar ways.

If you and your co-founder are so close that both of you being co-CEOs is organic and makes sense … if there’s no friction there and no ego games and it truly feels right … do it.

Just don’t do it to placate your co-founder.  Don’t do it if you both aren’t truly going to divide things up 50/50 at all levels.  Don’t do it if either one of you might ever leave.

Atlassian did it. They have done OK:

Monday did it, and they have done OK:

In the end, you’ll still have to divide responsibilities up one way or another. And the employees and outsiders and investors may be a bit confused.

But co-founders who are truly peers, aligned, and life business partners? That can be so powerful. If being co-CEOs is what it takes to make that partnership work, maybe so be it.


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