I am in the early stages of bootstrapping a startup. The product is a cloud-based service for businesses within a very specific industry. I have worked as a UX & UI developer and design freelancer for many years. During this time I have developed a working relationship with another professional that has a niche in the industry that this service is targeted for. I actually started developing the service out of frustration from working on/implementing similar services with his clients (but always separate from the work I did for him).
The question that I'm ultimately trying to get to - I cannot decide the best way to organize share and stake within the company. He is fully aware of the service, and as I develop portions of the platform I have shown it to him and we've talked about it in depth. It started out as one if those "wouldnt it be cool if..." conversations. Anyways, I am fully aware that I need him to get started - he has the ability to sell the product to very large companies. In fact, we have already started making deals with a few companies that our interested in some of the features we are ready to start testing. However, there are some caveats: we are located on different sides of the US and as far as I'm concerned I will be running the day to day operations of the business and will have more stake in the success of the company. Although I believe the fair thing is to split profits/shares between us evenly, I am hesitant about splitting management/control evenly. Not due to trust, but I have a feeling that this obligation will end up being obtrusive to the growth of the company. Also, for what it's worth, the only capital is coming from me.
Is it common in general partnerships to have precise definitions in how control is broken up, or should I look more at a limited partnership or even something else?
General Partnership is a bad idea, IMHO. You should discuss it with your lawyer, which I'm not, but as a lay-man I can tell you this:
What can you do instead?
C-corp and S-corp are referring to the taxation laws by which the corporation works: Sub-chapter C or Sub-chapter S. Any corporation is C-Corp by default, but some may choose to be S-Corp. They can only do that if certain conditions are met. S-Corp corporations are pass-through entities and don't pay corporate taxes.
If you're creating a business entity you have to get a proper legal and tax advice to decide which entity, and which taxation method, are the most beneficial for you.
Startups usually are corporations. If you have outside investors, they would probably want "preferred" stocks, which will require it to be a C-Corporation. Investors would probably stay away of entities which are not corporations, for various legal reasons (for example - you can't go public with a partnership, in most of the cases; In Partnership/LLC you have to have majority of the partners/members to agree to changes, not owners of majority of shares; etc).
Most startups tend to be an LLC or a C corp. Any reason why you are looking at a partnership? One important advantage of an LLC or a C corp. is limited liability. With a partnership there is no limited liability. With both an LLC and a C corp., you can distribute ownership in any percentage you want.
One thing to consider is whether you really want to share ownership of you company with this other person. It sounds like this other person isn't in it for the long run. Instead, he could be an employee or contractor and you could compensate him well for the business he brings. E.g., some percentage of sales he brings in.