Do founders of startups that have raised millions give themselves paychecks? If so, how much money do they pay themselves?

Kruze Consulting Startup Q&A Author
Vanessa Kruze Founder, CPA

Yes, in the US tech startups that have raised money tend to pay their founder CEOs about $130,000 per year. My firm runs payroll, accounting, etc. for funded startups (seed and venture stages), and we recently conducted a study of the CEO salary at over 125 funded companies. Our data shows that the average CEO pay for a funded company is $130,000 per year - and other founders, such as technical, operations or sales founders, tend to take the same as the CEO.

2018 startup ceo salary report

Pay does often go up as funding raised goes up. Roughly, for every additional $1,000,000 raised, a startup CEO (and other founders) will take home between $4,000 and $5,000 more in annual salary.

We work with a lot of investors, and many of them share a similar founder pay philosophy: 1) take enough salary to not have to worry about meeting rent - don’t get distracted growing the business because you can’t afford to live! 2) take a “normal” amount of cash compensation, as in, an amount that isn’t wildly more or less than what similar companies pay their founder executives.

To help you understand more about what’s “normal” pay, here is another dataset from my company’s analysis. We’ve got more info on our blog as well, in case you are interested.

2018 ceo pay by total funding raised table

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