Interim CTO vs Fractional CTO
2 min read

Interim CTO vs Fractional CTO

An Interim CTO and a Fractional CTO serves two different purposes, and both are significant in their own ways. Read more to learn what sets them apart.
Interim CTO vs Fractional CTO
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

"A startup reached out to me for Interim CTO work.

But after a call, I found they need a Fractional CTO instead.

Do you want an intro?"

- A fellow CTO sent me last week.

What's the difference between Fractional and Interim, then?

Interim CTO

Imagine Company A needs a fast transformation. Either to recover from some bad event, or to get it prepped up for the next growth phase. So they'd hire an Interim CTO.

This usually happens following big re-orgs, such as:

  • Company acquisition
  • Layoffs
  • Sudden departure of previous CTO
  • Preparation for a round of funding
  • Lead the team towards an important product milestone
  • Or some other urgent and important milestone

The Interim CTO would come in and work with the Founders and help them through those challenges.

Interim engagements are typically very short, between 1 and 3 months, and usually require a high bandwidth that could be close to full time during that period.

Fractional CTO

On the other hand, imagine Company B needs ongoing tech leadership, on a part-time basis for a more extended period of time.

So they'd hire a Fractional CTO.

This usually happens in early stage startups that either:

  • Lack funding to hire a full time CTO,
  • Or need someone to help fill a gap in the existing management team,
  • Or someone to provide advice to the founders.

The Fractional CTO would come in and work with the Founders on a recurring basis to tackle a broader range of challenges, usually ranging from technology, to HR, to investor relations.

Fractional CTO engagements are typically longer, between 3 and 12 months, and usually require a lower bandwidth of up to 10-15 hours per week.

It's common at the end of that tenure this Fractional CTO is offered a full time position, or tasked to hire a full time replacement.

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