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Can a company have 2 CEOs? What about business cards?

Together with an associate I own a small ISV. We have 50% - 50% participation. We are quite successful - we have 2 employees, etc.

Now we have an important business meeting with a large company. We will both participate in the business meeting.

We have never tought about fuctions. We both consider ourselves CEOs and make all important decisions together.

Because we shall go to the same business meeting, we shall both give business cards.

Can we write "CEO" on both business cards? Can a company have 2 CEOs? Or, should we write "general manager"?

What is the solution to this? How can we express on both business cards that we both have leader jobs and can make important decisions?

Thank you!
business newbie
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
President/Vice-President
CEO/Chairman
Founder/Founder
CEO/President
President/CEO
Principal/Principal
VP Development/VP Operations
Etc...

There are a ton of ways you can split up the titles.  I just pulled those right off the top of my head.  I recently read about a small company whose three founders took turns serving 6-month stints as CEO.

I vote for assigning yourselves titles that describe what you actually do.  For example, my business card has Founder & Senior Developer as the title.  President or CEO just sounds so pretentious for a small company, IMO.
Christopher Hawkins Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
You can. I've seen a company that had two "co-CEO's". Of course, what you probably meant to ask was "SHOULD" you do this. I suppose that depends on how progressive your clients are.
Oren Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
What is the diference between President and CEO?

Can a company have both a CEO and a President?
business newbie
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
I have seen 3 co-CEOs. But the company was a total-flop :)
Pythonic Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
It is not good that you haven't thought about how to divide up functions. At some point, you need to think about who is responsible for what.
Roger Jack Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
How about "CEO" and "COO"?  It might work well if one handles more of the HR and/or day-to-day stuff.
KC Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Divide the business cards in two, cut down the middle with a ragged edge. This way, when you hand them out, people know that you're only part of a whole.

Question: I want to sell you something expensive, which of you do I suck up to?

Question: I'm an irate client. Which of you can actually fix my problem?
www.MarkTAW.com Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
If you don't care for labels, then one of you should be the CEO, and the other something else. 2 CEOs just sounds funny. As if you couldn't decide and each of you couldn't give up on the title either. Sounds like 1st grade stuff. I'd say pick unique titles.

The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what you call yourselves since you have 50-50 ownership which actually is a bad idea too, but too late to change that one.
dilbert
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
From a business perspective, a 50:50 split is usually unwise.

What happens (and it will happen eventually) when you have a disagreement?  Something on the order of your partner coming to you and saying "I want to sell the company to MegaMonolith, Inc", and you don't.
example Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
A four person shop with two CEOs seems a bit strange.  Partner or Founder might be more appropriate.  Now if you are trying to appear larger than a four person shop that is another issue.
Lou Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
>> From a business perspective, a 50:50 split is usually
>> unwise.

>> What happens (and it will happen eventually) when you have
>> a disagreement?  Something on the order of your partner
>> coming to you and saying "I want to sell the company to
>> MegaMonolith, Inc", and you don't.

Unless you know eachother really well. Disagreements are natural, just learn to compromise. I think a true 50-50 partership is a good thing.

As for the title, I'd use Founder/Founder. Having two CEO's is like having two kings or two Popes.

I don't think it's really a big deal either way, but I do think every customer should have one primary contact; it makes life a little easier for them.
Zorg
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Our company is owned by 3 equal partners.  Corporate law requires us to have a "president" so we take turns.  We play rock-paper-scissors in January and the loser gets the job for the year.
Eric Sink Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Eric,

I was looking at your company information to figure out how you did the titles since the CEO moves around every year, and I see that you have 3 "principals". What is a principal? Is that like a president? The only principals I know of are the ones in schools. Never heard of companies having principals in charge. Could you shed some light on this?
dilbert
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Note that the title we pass around is "President", not "CEO".  We only have a president because corporate law requires one.  It's a grunt job.  The president signs the checks and is usually the person who has to get rid of any telemarketers who somehow slip through our defense fields.

Before we restructed the company, I called myself CEO, but I always felt a little pretentious in doing so.  The "CEO" title seems a little grandiose for a small company.

We just don't take titles very seriously here.  In larger companies, titles can be very important.  People use them as boundaries to define what people are required or allowed to do or not do.  In a small ISV, these kinds of boundaries are like cancer.

The use of "principal" is somewhat common in smaller companies.  I think it's short for "principal owner".

We would prefer to call ourselves "Partner" but we are an LLC and our attorney says that the partners in an LLC must legally be called "Member" and it would be a misrepresentation of our corporate form to call ourselves "Partner" so we shouldn't do it but we don't want to spend our lives explaining why LLC owners have to be called "Member" so we don't put either of these words on our business cards.

Every so often I've got a run-on sentence inside me which just has to come out.
Eric Sink Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Eric, thank you for your explanation.

One more follow-up question:

> Our company is owned by 3 equal partners.

How do you get around the times when all three of you can't agree, and no one person has enough power to get his idea to be passed in a likely voting event?
dilbert
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Also keep in mind that CEO and President have distinct legal meanings, unlike say a CIO, and generally need to be elected by the shareholders of a corporation.

Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
"How do you get around the times when all three of you can't agree, and no one person has enough power to get his idea to be passed in a likely voting event?"

If we can't all agree on something, we just don't do it.  Our policy is that we have to be unanimous on any significant decision.  We never proceed on a 2-1 vote.

All three of us have excellent communication skills and a very high level of trust.  It wouldn't work otherwise.
Eric Sink Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
> If we can't all agree on something, we just don't do it. 
> Our policy is that we have to be unanimous on any
> significant decision.  We never proceed on a 2-1 vote.

There has never been anything that *had to* be done, but all 3 of you couldn't agree on how to do it? 3-0 voting scheme is very ideal and respectful, but does that really hold in practice?

I guess it does since you guys are doing it.. In cases of disagreement, do you huddle up and try to convert the non-conforming member(s) in cases where you can't just walk away from doing whatever it is you are trying to decide on?
dilbert
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Hey Eric, how about Rock-Paper-Scissors-Spock-Lizard?
http://www.samkass.com/theories/RPSSL.html
Aaron F Stanton Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Requiring unanimous agreement has never been a problem for us.  It sounds like we would deadlock often, but we don't.

Again, I think our situation is a bit unusual.  I would probably be hesitant to recommend this approach for others.
Eric Sink Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
"Again, I think our situation is a bit unusual.  I would probably be hesitant to recommend this approach for others. "

You say that about everything.  :p
Christopher Hawkins Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Why you have to have a title? I use to have only my name, and really works. Smart people don't care about titles and if you write a CxO title, should thing that you are a stupid guy to do not do business with.

I have have several meetings with big, very big, companies and they never care about the title they care about knowledge and calue.

My two cents advice.
Bob Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
Another danger of multiple equal partners is if somebody dies.  You may like the guy but will you like his wife or son?

I've read about a few companies where the company was paralyzed by the partner who inherited or disintegrated into lawsuits.  The person who inherits might be insecure, paranoid, ignorant, greedy, manipulative, easily manipulated, unreliable or a combination of them all.

As an example, I love my wife.  She's a nice person.  She'll inherit it all.  But she's a completely different person than I am and anybody who thinks that dealing with her will be the same as dealing with me will be in for a rude awakening.
Daniel Howard Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
I have worked with my 50%-50% partner for years without having any problems. I know him since high school and we are close friends.
business newbie
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
You guys seem too concerned about the superficial stuff: titles, business cards, etc.

If I were you, I'd focus energy now on understanding what your business plan is: what value does your product provide, who's your target market, how to do get them as clients, etc.
B-bop
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
"Our company is owned by 3 equal partners.  Corporate law requires us to have a "president" so we take turns.  We play rock-paper-scissors in January and the loser gets the job for the year. "

All I have to say, is, I think I'm in love. :P  I think I'm moving and getting a job at SourceGear.
Rich Send private email
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 
What if you were to deal with big companies some of which might care about titles? On Dec 17th, they talk to Eric as the CEO since it is his turn, and on Jan 3rd, they want to talk to the CEO and they find his partner on the phone.

Maybe in practice it is not this absurd, or somehow works out for SourceGear.
dilbert
Monday, January 24, 2005
 
 

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