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How to Hire a CTO: Equity vs Salary

Understanding the Equity CTO Dilemma

In the startup ecosystem, hiring a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a pivotal decision. Often, startups consider offering equity instead of a salary to attract a CTO. However, this approach tends to attract only two types of profiles: the "fake CTO," who may not need the money and lacks the necessary experience, and the eccentric millionaire, who is financially independent and works for fun but finding one is as rare as hitching a flight to the moon.

The Problem with Equity-Only CTOs

  1. Limited Pool of Candidates: Equity-only positions often attract candidates who don't require immediate financial rewards, limiting the pool to less experienced individuals or extremely rare financially independent enthusiasts.

  2. Lack of Commitment: Despite the allure of a future payout, human nature gravitates towards immediate rewards. This means an equity-only CTO might not be as invested in the long-term success of the company.

  3. Experience Gap: A seasoned and experienced CTO typically has personal expenses and financial commitments, making an equity-only position unfeasible for them.

The Red Corner Alternative: The Fractional-CTO

Instead of navigating the risky waters of equity-only CTO hiring, startups should consider the Fractional-CTO (FCTO) model.

What is a Fractional-CTO?

A fractional CTO is a professional who manages technical aspects on a part-time or need-based basis. This model allows startups to leverage the expertise of a CTO without the full-time salary or equity commitments.

Benefits of a Fractional-CTO

  1. Technical Expertise: An FCTO brings in the necessary technical know-how to guide your startup's technological direction.

  2. Cost-Effective: Without the commitments of equity, vacation, or bonuses, an FCTO is a more financially viable option for startups.

  3. Flexibility: The FCTO works according to your startup's needs, providing flexibility in managing technical resources.

  4. Team Support: When working with an organization like Red Corner, the FCTO is backed by a team of other Fractional-CTOs, ensuring a collaborative and well-supported technical strategy.

  5. Focus on Growth: With an FCTO handling technical responsibilities, startup founders can concentrate on business growth and other core aspects.


While the allure of hiring a CTO on equity alone might seem appealing, the realities often point to a mismatch in expectations and outcomes. The Fractional-CTO model emerges as a robust alternative, offering expertise, flexibility, and financial viability. For startups looking to solidify their technological foundation without the risks associated with equity-only positions, considering a Fractional-CTO through a reputable provider like Red Corner could be the strategic step needed to steer their venture towards success.

Reality Check

Let's talk frankly for a second; let's put all the startup land bullshit aside. If you don't have money to hire a full-time CTO or a Fractional-CTO (fractional being the better option), all you have is an idea and a passion project at best. So go out there and get the money because without that, you have nothing, and it's a non-starter from the get-go.

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Fractional CTOs provide specialized expertise, ranging from crafting new tech strategies and policies to forming development teams, particularly valuable for growing businesses focusing on specific te

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