» My startups always need a COO

My startups always need a COO


Great post by Mark Suster about Why Your Startup Doesn’t Need a COO

I have always had a COO in any of my companies, when I had no means to pay for one it was my wife, Geraldine, and she still is the COO of LeWeb and err… more generally the COO of my life. I worked for many years in Europe with Olivier Creiche that was the COO of my web agency and then my blogging company, I would work with him in a heartbeat, again. That posted started a conversation between my long time and fantastic COO and friend Bastien Vidal. I thought he was thinking about the “coup d’etat” that Mark is talking about, but no, Bastien actually agrees with me about our two roles being very different, as Mark says:

When should a company get a COO then?
I’ve had this debate with some very successful VCs who are pro COO. They talk about freeing up the time of the CEO to think bigger picture and plan for the long haul. They talk about the need of the CEO to be chief evangelist, speak at conference, lead executive recruiting, etc. They say that having a COO allows the CEO to remover herself from the continual politics and personnel management that can be a drag on management time. I know this one as I’ve often said, the main job of a CEO is chief psychologist.

It works well for us, and it works well with Geraldine for LeWeb. Geraldine runs the business and I do the program (and help some more), I would not be as good as she is running the business and same with Bastien. It works well because I know my strengths and weaknesses, being the face of the company and public appearances help, but they are not enough. Mark raises good points about the risks though, of some CEOs completely disconnected from the business, I try to not fall in that category and I am pretty close to everything happening in my companies.


Of course it’s challenging for early stage as it’s difficult to fit two salaries, but there are many excellent execs bored at large companies that would accept a big pay cut for good stock in a cool startup. I guess it’s a question of preference.


  • http://nicole-simon.eu nicolesimon

    I agree on that you do not have to have a COO for the title, but you do need somebody to run operations. If there is only two people and one is the dev person then the task falls onto the other person probably, but it does not take away from the fact that you have roles in a company and they need to be addressed and taken care of: even in a startup of one.

    Especially since so many of the people doing startups never worked in a more corporate environment or leaned about the reasons why you have those roles and not just the title, such an article might do more harm than good. Your suggestion about finding the bored exec who would do that for fun is a good one. ;)

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    agreed (and hi, Nicole!) the title doesn’t matter that much.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Loic. You make many great points and I know that some people can make it work. In other companies it creates conflicts. I guess startup teams just need to be really clear and transparent about roles & responsibilities.

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    Hi Mark, thanks for your comment, yep, it’s all about being clear and transparent.