Last week we had an offsite in the beautiful Portuguese countryside, an hour's bus journey from Porto. We uploaded a highlight reel of the retreat to TikTok.
One of the sessions we ran was a PostHog pre-mortem. This involved breaking up into teams and getting people to suggest what is most likely to kill the company. What a cheerful way to start the week...
What surprised me was the number of people that listed cofounder breakup as a potential cause of failure.
And they're right. Around 20% of YC-funded startups have a founder leave.
So, here's what Tim and I are doing to not break up.
We talk frequently and at length:
- We talk 1/1 for at least an hour a week, although often, far more.
- We record any stuff we want to cover during the week in a shared agenda.
- We talk about frustrations and fears, plus positives.
We avoid compensation-related resentment:
- We have the same equity as each other.
- We earn the same salary.
We have clearly defined roles:
- There are a handful of things we both want to be involved in. People is one, Strategy is another. We think both of us being involved leads to the best decisions here.
- On other things, we have clear boundaries. Tim codes and works with engineering, and I sell and work with design and our marketing team on positioning.
It's tempting to claim we talked about this in advance (#visionaries), but we got lucky that we both heavily value similar philosophies around work, which means we find it easy to work together. We both value:
- individual contribution
- a VC-backed approach
- giving people autonomy
We don't like:
- fluffy, enterprise sales BS
- hypothetical plans where no one does anything
PostHog is VC-backed; we're going big or going home. That means we're playing offense not defense.
When I wanted to get Tim to join me on the PostHog adventure, my personal goal was not to try to maximize the fraction of the pie I receive. It was to build a pie so damn big that everyone wins.
This happens when you focus on building a successful company, not on bargaining with each other.