How do I fire a technical co-founder?


I came up with an idea for a business web application and teamed up with a coder to build it. He has a lot of strong points and built a good product (it's 90% done) but to cut a long story short, of late his commitment has been waning. I'd like to continue being part of the business and grow, but I can't work with him anymore and need to find someone else to continue building it. I know nothing about coding, hosting, etc. What technical information do I need to obtain from him before we part ways? For example, the code, hosting details, etc. I'm afraid he will not co-operate once we go our own separate ways, so I need to be absolutely sure I have all of the information/details about the technical side of things before we split. Please help.

Co-Founder Web Technical Apps

asked Apr 23 '11 at 14:24
26 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • You need to tell us what kind of legal agreement you currently have in place – Alain Raynaud 12 years ago
  • You're paying a hosting site and you know nothing about it? Who is listed as the owner? They should provide all the information you/the next dev should need. – Jeff O 12 years ago
  • @Jeff that's not true at all, what's on the hosted site may be compiled binaries, which would be worthless without the original source code. The hosting company probably doesn't have any clue what their site does, all they're responsible for is keeping the server running. – Joel C 12 years ago

3 Answers


Quite often, people are very understanding about such things. If you notice that his commitment is considerably less than before, he probably knows that more than you do.

I would first just talk to him about it and ask him whether he would like to carry on. He might actually appreciate having a way out and you might come to some nice arrangement where you take over the idea and he is left with some fair amount of equity.

It might be a good way to handle things elegantly, cordially, and professionally, without involving lawyers or any such things.

Would that attempt work in your case?

answered Apr 23 '11 at 15:27
1,821 points
  • Thank you for your response. Yes that is the approach that makes most sense to me, and one that I was planning on doing in the first place. I'm just a bit nervous just in case it doesn't pan out to be as smooth as expected. – Highlander 12 years ago
  • Even if you reignite his interest in the project, you need to have a very upfront written agreement on the transparent location of all code and passwords. The fact is as the technical partner he could lock you out at any time even then. If his interest in the project cannot be rekindled, leave him in good shape. Give him a graceful way to exit where he can both save face and not feel burdened with a large future commitment to help you. – Kenneth Vogt 12 years ago


A cautionary note: unless you've agreed otherwise, this isn't your individual project, it's your joint project - and on assumption he has the greater claim to the code. If you go your separate ways, and you want to end up as the sole and undisputed owner of the code and running service, you need to come to an agreement.

This has to be something you discuss together. Chances are, if his interest has waned, he'll be happy to come to some kind of arrangement. And he's probably the best person to help you find and get started with a new developer partner.

Start with the separation agreement, whether informal or legal (and I think this is exactly the kind of case where you need a lawyer to draft something that captures your intentions). Then work out the separation process. Technical handover is just one part of this bigger picture.

answered May 31 '11 at 18:27
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • I agree with Jeremy - if the OP didin't have an agreement that would resolve this, then likely the OP does not have an agreement in place for ownership of the code, thus the developer owns it. Owns it all. The OP can go find someone else to work with, but will have to do so without the IP his partner wrote unless he comes to some understanding. – Tim J 12 years ago


I suggest you have all the passwords for logins, social media accounts, code repository (incase of a live site) as in some worst cases programmers change everything and claim it as their own and the vision as their's or ask you to split the company.
Its better to be prepared than be sorry.
If the non performing person owns some vested equity then you are fine and you can fire with or without notice.. i.e if you choose to.

answered May 31 '11 at 16:16
1 point

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Co-Founder Web Technical Apps