What salary and equity should a startup CTO expect? #Startup #Equity #CTO

If you have decided that your goal is to become a CTO, then I recommend you direct your career towards that goal. Putting together a working backwards plan to become a CTO and executing to that plan helps. You can network your way to a job or find out about CTO jobs that are open as well. Having a goal and plan is good, but you need to direct your experiences and goals to become a CTO if that is your desire.

Chief Technology Officer Compensation

There are 5 variables to consider for the compensation, which might make it complicated, so I will try to simplify for 2 of the variables in this post – size of company and job location. I have collected data from 11 sources – PayScale, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Salary.COM, Comparably and VC databases such as Pitchbook – sources below.

The variables are:

  1. Size of the company: Impact of the role to the organization is a key determinant. Startups pay less than larger companies, but give more in stock. Seed stage startups will pay less than later stage, but give you more equity (in terms of % ownership).
  2. Location of the role: Roles in the US pay the most, followed by Europe and then in other regions. Indian CTO roles do not pay as much for most startups. Self reported data from 594 CTOs place the salary at INR 2.5 Million to INR 5 Million (25 L to 50 Lakhs)
  3. Industry segment and sector: CTO roles in technology pay a lot more than roles in non technology companies, but that is changing quickly.
  4. Scope of the role: CTOs are expected to be technical leaders, but many organizations also expect them to play the role of VP of Engineering and CIO in certain cases.
  5. Years of experience or CTO background: The rule of thumb is that more experience equals higher pay and equity. Similarly if you have experience building large scale systems at companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google or Microsoft, you will get paid more than if you are not.

The numbers below assume you are hiring a CTO, as opposed to having a co-founder as a CTO.

CTO Salary and Compensation
CTO Salary Data

Sources: US Salary Data, Bay Area Salary Data, EU Salary Data, India Salary Data and Asia Pacific Salary Data.

The next question is how can I get on the more or show that I deserve more than the guideline range? That question is best answered situationally and if you want to setup time with me for some advice feel free to email me.

The data is above is very subjective and has many nuances. Obviously salaries are very personal and negotiations play a big part in the final salary you get.

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