This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr
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Like many things, my thinking on this has evolved over time. I used to think co-CEOs was almost always plainly a bad idea. But now I think maybe it’s only a bad idea when done for the wrong reasons. The drawbacks of co-CEOs are large and clear:
- No one knows who the boss is. It’s very confusing who makes decisions ultimately.
- High potential for ego issues. Are the founders just kicking the can on a big issue — who’s ultimately the CEO?
- High potential for multiple marching orders. If CEO #1 says do A and CEO #2 says do B, it’s just so confusing, again.
- Twice the CEOs to visit with customers and prospects and partners. This can be almost like having an identical twin. You can be in two places at once.
- Always someone to mind the store. Someone can always be in the office. This takes a lot of the stress out of being on the road, or even, just taking a vacation.
- Someone else to make lots of decisions. Yes, having 2 CEOs can make it confusing. But it can also accelerate a lot of decision processes, if the 2 CEOs truly trust each other. Fewer bottlenecks.
- Easier to manage multiple product lines. Here is where I think companies like Atlassian and Salesforce get a boost. One CEO can focus on 1 product area, the other a different product area.
- More champions for innovation. Bet-the-bank innovation has to come from the top. Having 2 folks with the power to do that can spur innovation.