The Economics Of Titles

Titles can be used as a quick way to gain insight to the importance of regulation within economics.

Now that more entrepreneurs than ever are young, free to call themselves legitimate, and can quickly create a business for next to nothing, many self-proclaimed titles float about.

Today, I was researching a new product—which shall remain nameless out of respect—because I liked some of the marketing and design I saw. Poking around their site, I found some information on the folks behind it. When I research companies like this, I always hunt for the “About Us” section because I love seeing names and faces and finding out where the contributors are located. Much insight is gleaned from how they describe themselves and the business.

Well, this particular start-up had three people listed. Obfuscated out of kindness:

  • John Smith – CEO and Co-founder
  • Tim Rose – COO and Co-founder
  • Eric Brown – CTO and Co-founder

All three guys were younger than 23 years old. This was their first job. I have tremendous respect for their desire to take on starting a business, and frankly it looks pretty cool, but they are a prime example of how titles are becoming irrelevant. Specifically, title weight or prestige is becoming cloudy.

When anyone can call themselves a C-level executive, the meaning of a title deteriorates. Much like the old joke goes how everyone at a bank is a vice president, the tech start-up scene has gotten to the point where a title means nothing to me. More so, if I see a 21-year-old call himself a CMO, I’m closer to discrediting that he “gets it” rather than be impressed.

In a regular economy, market correction would occur. But the normal rules don’t apply here, so regulation is needed. A trusted, central authority is needed to disperse officialdom. (VeriSign is a real life example.)

Quick disclaimer: I can sympathize with the necessary requirement for a title with things like contracts, fundraising, marketing and so forth. My title at HarQen is technically “Director of Product Development”—but I refuse to introduce myself by that unless absolutely required to. Instead, I prefer to explain what I do, as evidence from my bio. With that said, I hope no double standard has been made. I am simply commenting on an observation I have.