CTO vs. VP Engineering [Feld Thoughts]
It's interesting how similar our experiences are on this point and how much his description (below) of "the great CTO's" reminds me of my dear friend, Niel Robertson, who served as CTO of Service Metrics.
In contrast, the great CTO’s usually can’t manage their way out of a paper bag, but have huge vision, the ability to pull an all-nighter and crank out a rough prototype of the thing they are thinking about, have the unique ability to translate complex / abstract thoughts into simple English that a non-technical end-user can understand, and a willingness (or even desire) to get up in front of 1,000 people and talk about the latest greatest thing they are working on / thinking about. They are also perfectly happy to work collaboratively with the VP Eng while leaving the engineering team completely alone.
This paragraph describes Niel perfectly. I remember a particular incident during the development of Service Metrics' first product offering when Niel had an insight about how he could illustrate the performance data in an utterly unique way. I think he managed to "crank out a rough prototype" within 24 hours. It blew us away. And it was exactly what Service Metrics (and the market) needed.
(Via Venture Capital.)