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Introducing our new co-CEO structure

Inside Airtame
4 min read
Introducing our new co-CEO structure
Jonas Gyalokay
January 24th, 2019

At Airtame, we continue to circle back to the same question: How do we build a long-term sustainable company while fostering an aspiring work culture?

For us, it’s not only about here and now. We decide to win now, but also decades from now. We force ourselves to balance ambition and quality work, while not burning out.

Cultural pillars that make Airtame “Airtame”

There are some cultural pillars we believe will help us win today and many days from today.

Without a doubt, collaboration is the big one. It’s the cornerstone of our organization and for what we sell. The ability to work on something together, challenge one another, brainfart with each other, share the worry and learn together is how we believe we push ourselves forward – and do the best for our customers.

Another pillar is to be different. It’s hard enough in itself to be great when you’re different, but it’s near impossible to be great if you’re the same. If you simply aspire to be a better version of average. Go down different paths and you will end up new places. That’s what we are all about.

The third pillar is flexibility. We believe that work–life harmony goes hand in hand with workplace flexibility, which is why we advocate working remotely, flexible working hours and taking much-earned breaks. We also believe that flexibility encourages people to dwell and research new paths. Which again goes hand in hand with thinking innovatively.

CEO cultural pillars regarding collaboration, flexibility and being different

These are foundational cultural pillars we believe in. Pillars that help us better answer the question above.

Out of that foundation, a new question started to take form: how do we encourage collaboration and flexibility in a novel way even at the top of our organization? That’s when we had a breakthrough. A new path we’re sure will take us new places. A path that’s more in line with our pillars: Making the Airtame CEO position a team.

Why two CEOs?

Yes, it’s a little unique. Here’s why it works for us.

We make the CEO position a team and encourage collaboration at the top

Brian and I agree on the league we want to play in (and win) but we don’t share all the same views, interests or skills. Together, we think we’re a much more balanced and formidable force.

The new co-CEO structure will help us consider different routes more fiercely and make better-informed decisions.

We make each other better. It will help us to grow even more as people and as a company. Our learning curve will be steeper. And that excites us!

We broaden the scope and increase flexibility

Two people can carry more weight than one, which means that we can broaden the scope of what we can achieve as a team, and collaborate more strongly. More people can report directly to the “CEO” and have contact time when they need it. This is a way we can keep the organizational structure a bit more lean as we grow.

We add flexibility for us (and therefore the company). Things like taking turns at different responsibilities, experimenting more and filling in when bigger projects (1:1s, product launches, research, customer/investor roadshows, book publishing etc) arise.

When we are deep in strategic projects, we’ll have on CEO representing the company (out in the field) and one running the company in the meantime. And, next time, we can switch it up.

We founded Airtame together and have worked side-by-side for almost six years now. We trust each other and have a natural and well-established relationship already. We’re not two recently hired guns that are forced to ‘make it work together’.

That sounds great, but …

… what about the downside(s) you might ask? Especially “But! Who will then call the shots“?

To that we’ll say it depends. As it does when you have one CEO. If all the shots have to be called by one CEO you don’t have a scalable and long-term sustainable setup. You have a potential bottleneck.

We don’t believe in depending on one person. We’ve never operated like that. So again, it depends on the context. And we’ve mapped out the context landscape in private, so we’re explicitly aligned about our mandate in each case.

Furthermore, we should remember that there are downsides to going with one CEO as well. And there are of course downsides with going with two. But we believe that the strengths from making that role a team is worth doubling down on.

By making the CEO position a team it will encourage collaboration, flexibility and operating differently even at the top. And we believe that that will shine through the rest of the organization and everything we do.  

 

/coco (co-CEO and co-Founder)
Jonas Gyalokay
Jonas is an entrepreneur at heart. He's the co-CEO & co-founder at Airtame. And he's the co-founder of two sons with his wife, Amanda. When he's not building, he's probably playing with his kids, eating great food with his wife, listening to an audiobook, out running or watching either basketball or comedy.

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