I find that people who call themselves a CEO/CTO – when it’s only the 2 (or 1) of them – pompous. Title’s like Managing Director or (Co)Founder come off much less arrogant.


  • I usually use the term founder as it’s just me. I think once a company grows to 20+ employees, then the title of CEO doesn’t seem so pompous.

  • Generally assigning c-suite titles and distributing shares before investors come in is a bad idea, since now the investor has to work on untangling the mess.

  • In some industries, you can’t get away with “founder” or “manager,” in which case it’s stupid to force an organizational construct which undercuts your company’s reach / ability to close.

  • What are we talking about here? Business cards and LinkedIn, or something else?

    I agree that people go overboard with that in general (and it’s dumb), but I challenge you to get a return successfully filed with your taxing authority without a big title like CEO.

    The US IRS, for instance, will laugh at you and reject it when you file as a ‘Founder’ because they don’t recognize that as a title at all.

    • US IRS accepts returns signed by a “Member” or “Manager” as long as it is in line with the Operating Agreement for your LLC – but having one person designated as an Officer (CEO, or whatever else you’d prefer to call it) does indeed help to reduce paperwork on quite a few occasions.

  • business is about appearances, too – especially in the early days when you’re asking a prospective customer, or investor to take a leap of faith. sometimes the pyjama look and the ‘i’m a hacker’ title works, but very often it doesn’t within traditional verticals where your buyer might be a 50-something who has had to sweat his or her way up the food-chain gradually. if you haven’t been privy to attitudinal changes in the face of perceived authority, or some other cosmetic variable, then you haven’t had enough exposure to sales and essentially, with all due respect, are a complete fucking idiot.

    don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  • Why? VC’s want to see leaders. And to be a leader, you have to have some gravitas. And influencers want to know who the CEO’s are. Why do you think people have CEO/Co-Founder in their title. It’s all positioning.

  • I had a bad first startup experience and have since found the title “ceo” or even “founder” to be too pompous until you have a product in hand.

    When I first started working on my own product I didn’t bother forming an entity to giving myself a title. I waited till I had sufficiently developed the product to the point that people were looking to buy before I entertained the idea of a title.

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