There are a number of high-profile examples of companies run by co-CEOs, including technology powerhouses like Google and LinkedIn, as well as examples from outside the high-tech world such as Whole Foods and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Now, we can count software giant Oracle among them. The company's founder and CEO, Larry Ellison, gave up the chief executive position last week. The company's two co-presidents, Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, are now its co-CEOs.
Companies use the co-CEO model for a number of reasons, including uncertainty about whether a single executive has the the management experience – or personality – to focus on the operational processes needed to scale for the future.
Earlier this year, ITbestofbreed.com profiled dual-CEO solution provider ShopKeep to get a sense of the benefits of using the co-CEO model.
New York-based ShopKeep – which develops an iPad point-of-sale (POS) solution – has embraced the co-CEO organizational structure to prepare for its next phase of growth: it raised a $25 million round of Series C venture capital last April to support this. Founder Jason Richelson, a former merchant who created the system to handle his own technology needs, was actually looking for a chief operating officer (COO). But, ultimately, he and the ShopKeep board felt that establishing a co-CEO structure made more sense.
"My and the board's goal bringing Norm on is to bring someone who really understands how to scale a business so that I could focus on culture, product vision and being a customer advocate," wrote Richelson in his internal letter announcing the change in early May 2014. "The co-CEO structure is the best way to cement our partnership to work together and lead this company forward.
Richelson's CEO "partner" is Norm Merritt, a seasoned operations and finance executive whose most recent position was as CEO and president of IQOR, a $500 million business process outsourcing company.
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