You should fire any CTO that doesn’t come from a coding background.

This conversation always comes back up for revaluation and I’m kinda desperate to put it to bed.

The value you get from a CTO is the judgement that comes from years of making mistakes when building software businesses, and the vast majority of those mistakes are related to how software is built. A good CTO has seen Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, and watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate – that is what you are paying for when you buy a CTO.

IT as an industry is generally one that is about controlling risk, and this is a major factor in why IT roles don’t often see eye-to-eye with the rest of the business, because controlling risk is boring, uncreative, and gets in the way of creative endeavours.

A good CTO is able to control risk, AND STILL MOVE AT PACE. Learning how to control and ameliorate risks only comes from actually having a coding background and working as a professional software engineer for a good chunk of their career.