Would you ever consider giving up equity to bring on a Chief Marketing Officer?

We really need someone out front creating buzz and connecting with our tribe. Our team is big enough to turn out a good product, support customers, and close deals, however, we currently don't have have anyone dedicated to PR, social media, and events and I think we're missing a lot of opportunities because of it. Finding a passionate marketing guru in our industry will be difficult and it seems like equity could help light the fire for an A player. Should giving up equity be standard practice for small software team? I've heard of giving up equity for an amazing designer, what about a CMO?


I think you should give equity to anyone who's going to have an impact on your team. That's true for engineers, designers and especially marketing people.

Some of the most important people are marketers - however, the best marketers are more product marketers then just a PR / community person.

Equity usually vest over 4 years, so there's 0 risk in issue equity to anyone ... cause if they don't perform, just let them go and no big deal.

Hope that helps.

Answered 7 years ago

At a startup level, it's best to avoid c-level appointments. Could your startup benefit from someone who understands how to cost-effectively acquire customers and inflate word of mouth through PR and other types of outreach? Probably.

But keep in mind that attention is a two-sided coin. If your startup isn't prepared for more users and the increased customer support demand, increase to feature backlog, potentially critical reviews, then it may make sense to hold off on hiring someone full-time until you are a bit further along.

Generally speaking, anyone joining a startup should be motivated by their equity. Even if it's a quarter of one percent of the company (assuming of course that grant is stage-appropriate), that person should be motivated to work as part of your team to make that quarter of one percent worth a life-changing amount of money for that person.

Happy to learn more about your company and your current progress and help you evaluate your team needs at this point and in the near future.

Answered 7 years ago

You are right to say you are missing opportunities. What you need is a good VP of Community. You don't want a seasoned CMO from the "old school". You need someone who understands the online world and is able to be a champion for your tribe. It really is a full time job that requires focus and good people skills that transfer to the digital world.

As for equity? It never hurts to offer it if you are willing and find the right person. And, if you want the best talent, equity is probably a good idea assuming your benefits package is not strong enough to beat the competition. Lay out a 3-5 year equity plan to create longevity. A small equity position up front with increases each period based on longevity, performance or both. It's all negotiable.

I'd love to chat with you more about this. I am pretty connected and might be able to refer you to the talent you are looking for.

All the best!

Kevin McCarthy

Answered 7 years ago

Only if you are giving equity to me. Just joking. You should definitely put your money where you mouth is. If you really want to grow then give equity. You can make this a tiered program which is fully vested after 4 years. 25% vested per year with the first 25% starting on the day one. 50% vested on the one year anniversary. The CMO has a vested interest from day one.
Michael T. Irvin
"Get To The Top Without The Slop"

Answered 7 years ago

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