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What is the difference between CEO and founder?

Founder is the person who founded a company.

Chief Executive Officer is more like the main boss of the company.

Sometimes they’re the same person. Sometimes the founder appoints a CEO, while still active in the company or not.


Although the terms "founder" and "CEO" are sometimes confused and used interchangeably to refer to people at the head of a startup, it is indeed two distinct roles that do not necessarily require the same profiles.


The founder is the one who one day thought that his idea was bound to lead to a company and made this process a desire so that he lost sleep.

Founding a business requires a certain courage, ambition and a short or medium-term vision to project sufficiently into the future to imagine his future and that of his family.

Not everyone is able to start a business: regardless of his or her own skills, the founder of a company is above all a passionate person, with a low risk aversion and a thirst for freedom of action that leads him to write a story based on his vision and idea.


The CEO, or Chief Executive Officer, is the person in charge of the day-to-day management of the company at large. This conductor must be able to recruit, sell, buy, watch, negotiate with his suppliers as with his bankers. His managerial skills are essential to guarantee economic balance, but he must also be able to define and apply a corporate strategy. Finally, the CEO is expected of his managerial abilities in order to make the most of his employees by enhancing them to make them exceed their own skills and bring them to excellence.

This position therefore requires a variety of skills and qualities, as well as a leadership personality and a certain charisma to unite teams over the long term.


The founder is someone who started the business. Normally the founder is the one who came up with the original idea and started the initial steps for a company for a business.

An CEO is someone who takes full responsibility to manage all operation and aspects of a business or a company, which is owned by a Founder. An CEO can be a founder also, but normally the founder will hire an CEO for their company.


The founder of a company often has different strengths than those that are needed to run that company as it matures on a day to day basis. The challenges faced by company founders are often not the same as the issues a mature company will face. The vision is often different as well. 

It's said that most companies fail in the first five years due to under-capitalization, but with at least some of them, I think they fail because the founder held on too long and didn't hand the reins over to a qualified CEO. It is rare to see a person who has the attributes of a founder also capable of managing day to day operations as the company grows.

Perhaps the major difference between the two is the founder is the person of vision and intense drive to bring that vision to life, while the CEO is (and should be) much more focused on performance and the bottom line profitability of the company. Many startup founders find the number crunching incredibly boring, while many CEO's find the founder's risk taking to be nerve wracking.


Founder is the person who founded the company.

CEO is the person in charge of the daily business of the company. He is in charge of staff and in normally well educated at university with a mBA at least.