What's the difference: founder vs co-founder?


I'm not entirely clear on what's proper nomenclature... is there a difference?

Say there are two individuals starting a company, is it proper to call them both "founder" or is "co-founder" the correct label?

Co-Founder Founder

asked Jan 26 '10 at 04:54
Greg Belote
798 points

6 Answers


Co-founder is the correct answer for your question. But even if you call them founders, it wouldn't be a big deal.

answered Jan 26 '10 at 05:02
Ahmet Kirtok
126 points


"co-founder" implies more than 1 founder. But, "founder" may be used in the single or multiple senses.

answered Jan 26 '10 at 05:07
Nestor Sanchez A
690 points


I've recently seen a disturbing trend where people seem to be using both of these terms at one company, granting "founder" status to a few and lower "co-founder" status to others. As far as I can tell this originated at Facebook where Mark Zuckerberg wanted to distinguish himself from all others that claimed/litigated status as founders. I also have seen/heard of this when someone is granted founder status later in the formation of a company and hence only considered a co-founder vs. a founder.

In general, to me - if there's multiple founders, all are co-founders, if there is only one then one is a founder. Certainly one can refer to all co-founders as founders, but I find the dual-class structure distasteful and disingenuous.

answered Jan 27 '10 at 05:52
111 points


I've also seen examples where "Founder" is used to denote the person who worked on the idea prior to bringing in the other "co-Founders." This was the inspiration for my title ("Founder and President"), although my partners certainly have the right to use the titles "co-Founder" or even "Founder."

answered Jan 29 '10 at 15:31
Josh Sam Bob
1,578 points


Why not approach this question from this standpoint - if company is founded by one person - he is a founder. If company was started by many of them - call them co-founders. In the latter case no one feels discriminated or offended. Make a situation more compromise-wisely and dimplomatic (in case of many (co)-founders).

answered Jun 26 '13 at 15:57
Alexey Grigoryev
62 points


I have the same issue. Although I don't see it as a big deal, I believe it's important to find a way to name them properly.

We are a team of 5 people with equal shares at our company. I've came up with the idea and the other members in our team got involved to put it into practice. We made a video presenting our idea and initially I thought it would be fine to name me a founder and name them co-founders, but now I'm not completely satisfied of that.

I think that since we have equal shares in the company, we all should be considered founders and have different functions assigned to distinguish ourselves. I will be using what "nyc_ceo" suggested and put Founder/Function to each one of us.

answered Jun 26 '13 at 15:19
Vivian Vanatu
1 point

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