"CTO" here.
Two week ago the CEO informs me that the "investor" want to put me in contact urgently with an external software house to help me with my "bottlenecks".
The investor goes immediately on holiday, so it's not available for explanations. The CEO doesn't know much.

Today I meet the software house CTO and CEO.
They tell me that I should do a transfer of knowledge with them. That they will respect my requirements, my schedule and that they want to help me.

During the meeting the business consultant explains "his" vision. Some new development nobody understand. Not even the CEO. The other cofounder is probably in disagreement but stay silent.

I agree to cooperate with them in due time and with due scope and planning.

It appears they already signed a contract with the investor. The investor is offering to us 40 days of a senior developer, for "free".
The CEO doesn't even know the economical details of the contract and he is surprised that has been signed.He also didn't know that a person will come over for 40 (?) days and that we will have to pay the transfer expenses.

I try to be friendly. I explain to them the issues I need to solve. I say specifically that I need help on certain tasks and that my wish is that nothing "new" will start until we fix some obvious problems.

After leaving, in the evening I receive an email from the software house guy, telling me that next week I MUST allocate a slot for technical transfer and the 2 weeks after for on site training. Like that. He also mention we "agreed" on that which is false. We agreed on me deciding the timing.

We are only 2 developers, at the moment and the other one will be on holiday next week, so I'm trying to get from him a lot of things I don't know because I don't know everything.

I'm not even sure I'll be able to explain how to prepare all the environment.
Worst thing is that I don't know what will be the scope of the project.

I really don't know how to behave.
I wrote back setting my conditions. I have holiday too. I have to prepare "documentation", explanation, etc.

I don't want the "senior dev" coming when I'm not present.
Maybe I was too weak answering and I should have started a fight immediately. Because he actually AGREED to let me decide and after that he set conditions on me immediately.

I don't know.
My stomach is burning, I had a very bad digestion with fever and headache, feel like puking, plus I spent several evening hours fixing the fucking Linux kernel bug.

I want to survive. I don't want to let them oust me in this stupid way. I want to fight.
I know that if I will explode, scream or whatever I will be at fault and I'll accelerate my demise.
When I try to be "diplomatic" actually I end up being weak.
When I try to be assertive I'm in fact rude and hysterical.
I can't think anything else.

This is what burnout looks like.

  • 2
    Schedule the time and give them no help, documentation, or resources. Then when the 40 days end, they'll have gotten nothing done and you can say you were too busy to help on such short notice.
  • 11
    Sounds like a typical CEO / investor type.

    They appear friendly and helpful, but in reality completely ignore you and dictate everything, and blame you if anything goes amiss. They quite literally see everyone as replaceable and irrelevant.

    Also, every move is planned to increase their control and/or return. The external dev house could very easily be an attempt to replace/remove you and/or the other dev with people more under the investor's thumb.

  • 2
    Decide a point where you say enough is enough. Resign at that point.
  • 2
    @Root what you say is highly likely. I have met these kind of people and one will order a knowledge transfer like this.
  • 1
    @Root I have no much choice. I can't refuse to transfer my knowledge. If I resign, the other programmer will transfer the knowledge.

    I don't know exactly how to protect myself
  • 1
    @arcsector After the meeting in the evening this guy sent me an email, fixing the dates of the transfer of knowledge. The next week.

    I can take some times, but I will be on holiday at the beginning of august and the other developer will take over the transfer.

    I think is really over for me
  • 2
    @Teknas I worked 10 years in the project that I started myself. I won't find easily another job of that kind. My pay grade will be cut by 1/3. I'll hardly find a job at my age
  • 2
    @deviloper the best way to protect yourself is to start snooping for another job.

    Once you got that covered you can raise your concerns with the CEO
  • 2
    @Teknas Especially likely if they're paying someone's salary for 40 days.
  • 0
    hey @deviloper be a devil too, what about transferring "false knowledge" ? is it a possible thing ? if it is, you making your "senior dev" look dumb and make your self essential 😈
  • 7
    Folks, stop giving freaking bullshit childish advice.

    OR need and want to protect himself.

    No, don't hold back knoweldge.
    No, don't start a fight.
    No, don't start snooping around like it's not your baby project.
    Don't fucking undermine the situation by giving « false knoweldge ».

    Sorry I sound harsh but god damnit! Fek! We're not talking about a junior who wants a raise because he's paid below market.

    You are the fucking CTO. Act like it. Take control. Control the pace. Roll with the flow.

    Schedule a meeting with your co-founders. You are in charge of the technical aspect of your company and you see a risk ahead. Voice your opinion.

    Then unite to explain to your investor why the timing is less than adequate and see how you can make it work.

    It's an investor. Talk money and time waste. All he wants is see people who knows what they are doing. Hold up to your shit.
  • 6
    I can't stress this enough: PAPERTRAIL!
  • 3
    @Wack is right.


    If it all goes down on a whim, someone will be held accountable.

    Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.
  • 1
    Look in company status what are your rights!
    If you have shares, you have rights. Use them.

    Be in charge. Don't let them push you around. Be calm, but firm.

    Lastly, start searching for a new job!!! Have you tried?
    Because it seems you are going down depression lane. And sadly, that road might get you to a really uncool suicide attempt, or worst success.
  • 1
    I think what @jotamontecino has some merit. Think about what you want and don't want in your future. There's no shame in figuring out, that you rather "just" code or become a tech lead, whatsoever instead of a CTO. What matters in the end is that you're healthy (both mentally as well as physically!) and that you're happy with your job.
  • 2
    Paper trail is essential, I agree.
    Don't ever take spoken orders.
    And even if you have to, write back that this is what I was told, please confirm.
  • 1
    @Teknas I made a habit of writing a short summary after phone calls/oral meetings. Most of the time not to cover my ass but just to have something to look stuff up (for both partys)
  • 0
    @Cultist I just tried to do that today before reading you comment. You explained it very well. Maybe I was not as good as you described, but I tried it.

    I got an "answer". well. So goes:

    Then investor lent us money in the past. But we finished the money, so we borrowed from a bank, but we finished that as well. But the investor company is in reality a subsidiary of the bank, so now UNDER THE CONDITION that we hire immediately the company proposed by the investor, the bank is willing to give us a "bridge loan"

    I was thinking tech, they are thinking money laundering?. The cofounders CFO and CEO are also sick and tired of the company, they probably want to get out and keep only shares.

    I feel stupid.
    A stupid guy with open eyes looking at the ceiling of his bedroom.
  • 3
    @deviloper you'll feel stupid in 5 years thinking about it. Now is not the time.

    Do you have multiple stakeholders?

    With limited knowledge of your situation, I see three possibilities:
    - make it work: embrace your role as CTO and have a nice collab with the software house.
    - redirect: communicate with your team AND your investor to find other outcomes.
    - leave: you won't be the first nor the last.

    All in all, I assure you you'll be fine in the end. Remember you started something and made it work for TEN fucking years. So many startups fail way before 2y. That's golden value right there.

    Breathe, relax and do one move at a time.

    (Note: although I'm not a specialist, I've helped quite a bunch of founders over the years. You wouldn't believe the shit some endured. Yet, they're all fine today.)
  • 0
    @Cultist I can feel you really helped people, your way of thinking is very clear. Probably I thought most of the things you say by myself, but read them from somebody else is different, and helpful. Thanks
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