Board of Directors

It’s important to grasp general legal concepts and definitions as a startup founder. This page is sourced from Clerky’s Legal Concepts for Founders page.

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The board of directors (often referred to as the board) is the governing body of a Delaware corporation. The board of directors has a specific number of seats. There is no minimum number of seats; solo founders are often the only director at company formation. Most startups are set up so that the size of the board can be easily adjusted at any time. The number of directors can never exceed the size of the board.

The board makes decisions either in board meetings or in writing (referred to as written consent). By default, the board can make decisions with a majority vote of the directors present in a meeting. Or if the board is making a decision by written consent, unanimous consent of all directors is required. In practice, most board decisions for early stage startups are made by written consent, due to simplicity.

A quorum is required for any board decisions. Quorum is the minimum number of directors that must be present at a board meeting in order to make decisions. This is usually a majority of the total number of directors. The board can't make any decisions in a meeting if there aren't enough directors present for quorum. Similarly, the board can't make any decisions by unanimous written consent if the total number of directors doesn't meet quorum.

As mentioned earlier, the initial board of directors is elected by the incorporator. Once a corporation issues stock, the stockholders control who is on the board of directors. For most startups, the board of directors consists solely of founders until the startup's Series A financing. Venture capitalists typically join the board of directors in connection with a Series A financing.


There can be some confusion due to the fact that some job titles contain the word Director (for example, Director of Engineering). Despite appearances, giving someone such a job title does not put them on the board of directors.