CTO vs Senior Engineer

What’s the difference at a startup between a CTO vs a Senior Engineer?

  1. CTO Compensation — mostly equity, minimal salary.
  2. 2. CTO Commitment — ‘can do’ attitude, makes stuff happen.
  3. 3. CTO Contribution — helps with strategy, holds others accountable, great results of their own.


Hello, Everyone. Today, we’re talking about the difference between a CTO and a senior engineer. This question often comes up for early-stage startups that don’t have a lot of technical Talent on the founding team. So if you’re trying to decide if you should promote a senior engineer to CTO, here are the things I like to consider:

1: Compensation — Are they willing to take mostly Equity compensation a CTO at this stage is essentially a co-founder and should ideally be focused on extending the company’s runway rather than reducing it.

2: Commitment — Do they have a positive attitude towards the many challenges that our startup will present. And are they willing to put in the incredible amount of time and effort it will take to overcome those obstacles.

3: Contribution — Great results by them are the minimum baseline, but they should also be able to help with company strategy and be willing to manage others, including and especially, holding others accountable.

Pre-seed Investor. Email: ash@sterlingroad.com. B2B, US only. I work with founders for 3 months before investing. More info: http://SterlingRoad.com/process

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