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Do YOU have what it takes to be a CTO?
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Do YOU have what it takes to be a CTO?



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  • 1. Do YOU have whatit takes to be a CTO? CONFOO 2011 by Sylvain CarleCTO and co-founder @ Needium[ these slides are so undesigned, but I guess it makes a point ]CC-BY-SA -
  • 2. if you are thinking...★First we should define what a CTO is!★Please define the scope.★How can I answer that if I don’t know what it takes?
  • 3. You are unto something, padawan.
  • 4. SCOPE★CTO : Chief Technical Officer★Also a co-founder (important)★In the context of an internet/ software startup
  • 5. Define Startup★Startup: an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.
  • 6. OK, that should★Lets’ get into the details now★That’s were the devil is, you know
  • 7. 4 parts to a startup★Market★Product★Team★Business Model
  • 8. You are in charge of all 4★Plus all the crap that needs to be done to run a business, boring stuff like payrolls, budgets, bills to pay, lawyers, governments rules, etc.★basically anything that requires a fax in the process (argh!)
  • 9. But your real job★is to SHIP★Getting Things DONE
  • 10. The KEY difference★Between a developer and a CTO★is making things go forward★in other words, the buck stops here: you have to decide★no one else is going to save you
  • 11. Decisions, decisions★Take co-ownership with your co-founder(s) ★Market ★Product ★Team ★Business Model
  • 12. Building the business★ Know strengths and weaknesses of founding/dev/ops team(s).★ Keep the macro/meta view★ Make yourself unecessary★ Technology is the enabler not the goal. Repeat that again.★ Architect the business.
  • 13. Key Tasks★Managing dev/ops team ★Hiring ★Roadmapping ★Shipping★Managing business ★Outsource / delegate but know
  • 14. Key Tasks★Managing the technology ★Development ★Operations ★Office IT ★Budgeting
  • 15. Key Tasks★Managing the Product★Know your Market★Business Model discovery★Adapting (continuously)
  • 16. Key Attributes★You like learning (a lot)★You are pragmatic not dogmatic★You can stay calm during storms★You organize things (just enough)★You are a good communicator
  • 17. Pragmatic★Keep in mind the business objectives★It’s not about you★Sometimes, the answer is less technology, not more
  • 18. Calm★Shit will hit the fan★You can’t plan everything★But you can plan redundancy★Accept failure★Apologize, be humble
  • 19. Organized★Have Macro and Micro objectives★Slice time: Hour/Day/Week/ Month/Quarter/Year (not more).★Find & File. Pick & Pass.★Store & Share. Non-Blocking I/O.
  • 20. Communication★Be explicit★Learn to listen more★Management by walking around (version 2.0)★What you don’t want to do is probably what needs to be done.
  • 21. Where I learned★People around me, all the time.★Books: Founders at Work, Getting Things Done, Art of the Start, Rapid Development★Venture Hacks. Hacker News. Quora. Serendipity, seriously.★Just Fraking Do It. Think META.
  • 22. Benevolent Dictator★Saying NO★Saying YES★Always move things FORWARD★Time to THINK. Time to get things DONE. Time to DO.
  • 23. Mindset★Be honest with yourself and your family and friends★Be megalomaniac with your market and product BUT humble with your team★Take time OFF. Fully & Partially.
  • 24. Tools to get things★Email: short, one topic, @next★ToDo list: text file accesible from everywhere (dropbox + editors)★Google Apps: share more, re-use★Trac: roadmap, tickets, code★Network: greateast strength
  • 25. What it really means★★ He told me that when the CEO, Ben Huh, hired him on, the site was a mess.   The complex process of processing user submitted content was managed entirely by a thorny tangle of PHP (in WordPress) and .NET.  This weird mix of ugliness was written by a contractor over the course of the preceeding six months.  It was undocumented and messy.  The obvious thing to do was get rid of it, and start fresh.★ So, he sat down and talked to the CEO.  Times were tight: they’d raised a small round to acquire the original domain and hire some staff, but the money was disappearing quickly.   New features were needed to support better monetization, and they couldn’t get them done frequently enough.★ Scott had a terrible decision to make.  He could scrap six person-months of work and build the site anew.  It would scale better, reducing costs would be easier, and he wouldn’t have to mix PHP and .NET.  They could purge their technical debt with one fell swoop.★ But, that’s not what he did.  He told me that he wasn’t sure the company could survive locking down the business while he attended to development housecleaning.  So, he kept the company on the original codebase, platform, and architecture.
  • 26. Conclusion★Market, Product, Team, Model★Architect the Business★Decide: kayaking metaphor★Makings things happen is not the same as doing them yourself★It’s about PEOPLE!
  • 27. Thanks! Questions?★ Our product -★ My blog -★ On Twitter - @afrognthevalley★ Bug me by email -★ Oh yeah - we are hiring a Linux/Cloud sysadmin, help me plz!