Backup company Veeam recently re-structured to promote COO Peter McKay and co-founder (and CTO) Andrei Baronov to be co-CEOs of the company.
I’m not the only one to raise their eyebrows over this arrangement. Having multiple people in charge makes it tricky to know who is responsible for making a decision. It’s a rare structure, and of the few companies to attempt it, many don’t do very well.
I asked co-CEO Peter McKay about the structure at the company’s VeeamON conference in New Orleans this week.
“Andrei is the technical genius behind Veeam,” said McKay. “He knows the vision of the product. He knows where it’s going.” Baronov has always been the technical lead for Veeam, and his co-founder Ratmir Timashev was always modest in deferring to Baronov’s skill at understanding the product and customer’s desires for what it should do. McKay’s short period as COO while ex-CEO William H. Largent ran things after taking over from Timashev in June 2016 appears to be more about McKay becoming familiar with the culture of Veeam before taking over as CEO.
McKay was clear that his role is not one of a single commander responsible for all things. “It’s not that, ‘Hey, I’m the one person that’s running this company’”, said McKay, “I came here because I complemented the team.” The structure is far more similar to the way Veeam was run under Timashev and Baronov for most of its life: a sales and operations oriented CEO (Timashev, now McKay) and a technical lead (Baronov) responsible for the product itself.
“He needed me, and I need him,” said McKay.
I can be a little slow, so it took me a while to figure out what Veeam’s co-CEO structure is actually about, and it’s not as rare a structure as it might seem, it’s just that the titles are wrong. Swap industries, and the arrangement is very clear.