Want to Know the Difference Between a CTO and a VP Engineering?

In summary. If you’re starting a company make sure you have your chief architect. If you’ve outsourced this to a firm that has guaranteed that they know how to launch you more quickly I’d tell you that’s like trying to launch a movie but outsourcing the script to a focus group. People will tell you it will work, it won’t. Don’t take the easy road. I’d rather delay by 3 months and have the right DNA inside the gate. As you have a 5–10 person startup you don’t need a lot of technology process management. As the CEO you can personally help manage deadlines and the Agile process. So no need immediately for the VP of Engineering.

But as you company grows to 10–20 people you’ll want to consider adding “technology management” skills, which means a VP of Engineering. In my view each of the CTO and VP Engineering should report directly to you and you should remain very hands on vs. “trusting them to make the right decisions.” As you cross the $5 million mark and have lots of customers don’t forget to add the program management function. Coordinating new product releases into the entire fabric of your company will become vital.