Context of Question
We are two friends who are co-founders of a startup about to launch. Both of us have been pretty much involved in everything from programming, market analysis, product roadmapping and sales.

We understand that we should at some point, if not now, go for a clear and distinct separation of responsibilities in the company. What if, one person owns the "Product + Technology" part and the other owns "Market and Operations" part of the business.

Now, I am not a big fan of CEO title, specially when you have two equals working hard for the company. C and O are fine. I have a problem with the 'E' -- "Executive". Why should one be called the "Executive" and get more attention than the other?

Is it okay to have C-suite titles that more clearly talk about the ownership of the founder ? For example, what if we have only two titles "CPO" Chief Product Officer) and "CBO"/"CMO" (Chief Business/Marketing Officer).

Your thoughts please?
Answer

I haven't come across Incorporation laws that requires a company to use the CXO labels, so no, you do not need to have a CEO. 

When we were incorporating, we asked ourselves this question as well. What I realised was this: The CXO titles go with functions of a company and it works really well for a company that is structured by departments/functions. That's why you have Executive (CEO)/Information(CIO)/Financial (CFO)/Operations(COO), etc . I understand that even one-person companies use a title as a CEO but personally, I think it is more suitable for companies who have enough employees to be divided into departments. As such they would have to be real big companies that have say, 20 or more, employees. 

I have also considered the political labels of President and Vice-President, etc... but that was not useful for us either. CXO and political labels are popular for American companies, I observe.

In our case, we opted to go with using Directors instead, which is common in the UK, Australia and British Virgin Islands companies. It makes more sense, especially with issues like this. If you wish, you can say Managing Director, Executive Director, Financial Director. Unlike the CXO format, where there is normally only one CEO, you can have more than one Director, Managing Director and/or Executive Director.

Do you have a different answer that might help the questioner? How would you answer this question?


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