Startups and COO’s

Last year, I wrote about a topic that comes up all the time in my work (and personal life). 

Micro-management vs delegation.

In that post, I wrote that I changed my tune about young companies hiring a gm or coo. Feel free to read it if you want but the short version is that for the right team and the right person, the GM/COO position can be a game changer.

Yesterday, Mark Suster wrote a thoughtful post about the downsides of a COO in an early stage company. Here’s a line that stood out for me:

“CEO’s run things. They run their business. If they’re not running their business then perhaps the wrong person was picked as CEO or perhaps they need more mentorship / coaching to better allocate their time.”

It’s hard to paint with a broad brush but I’ve seen some great companies in our portfolio really benefit from a GM/COO. 

A few examples come to mind like: dennis (founder/ceo) & evan (gm) at foursquare,  david (founder/ceo) and john (president) at tumblr; and ted (founder/ceo) and peter (coo) at kik. These companies had this set up from early days. 

These are awesome combinations and the company and the founder have benefited from it. And I absolutely prefer this setup than having a non-founder as ceo.