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Meet the 8 chief financial officers leading 2019’s tech unicorn IPO spree

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Meet the 8 chief financial officers leading 2019’s tech unicorn IPO spree


Slack

In the world of tech startups, the race to go public is often kicked off with the hiring of a chief financial officer.

The number-crunching, budget-setting finance exec plays one of the most important roles in the process leading up to and after the ringing of the opening bell.

It’s up to the CFO to forge good relationships with investors, analysts and other Wall Street constituencies. A CFO who knows how to “speak to the Street” can mean the difference between a blockbuster debut and a dud.

Just as important is the CFO’s fit within a tech company’s culture and the rapport with the chief executive. A good partnership can work wonders; a bad match — such as the Snap CFO’s 8-month stint on the job— will leave the company reeling.

With a mountain-high line up of extremely expensive private companies preparing for 2019 IPOs, there’s no shortage of interesting CFOs who are about to hit a major milestone.

These are 8 CFOs expected to take companies public in 2019:

Ex-Yahoo Allen Shim is at Slack


Slack

Allen Shim joined Slack in 2014 as employee number 20. As the startup grew, so did Shim’s role.

Once senior vice president of finance and operations, Shim was promoted to CFO in January 2018 in a move which Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield made clear was a big step in the company’s next phase of growth.

At the time of his promotion, CEO Stewart Butterfield called Shim “a trusted advisor” and his “right hand from the earliest day.”

“Introducing the role of CFO is a natural evolution that levels up our capabilities and positions us for scalable, long term success,” Butterfield said at the time. “These changes show in our results and our readiness to take advantage of the opportunity ahead.”

Before joining Slack, Shim spent five years running finance at a television advertising metrics company called YuMe. Before that he worked at Yahoo in business operations.

Lyft’s Brian Roberts used to be a banker


Lyft

It’s pretty common in the world of startups for CFOs to join in the year or months preceding that first S-1. But Lyft CFO Brian Roberts has run finances at the startup since October 2014.

Roberts is known in the industry thanks to a long track record in finance and corporate development. Before joining Lyft, he led M&A and strategy at Walmart’s e-commerce division. He also spent five years as vice president of corporate development at Microsoft.

In between tech jobs, though, Roberts spent time at some of the biggest banks in the land of tech deals. He launched Evercore’s West Coast advisory practice starting in 2006. Before that, he was a vice president at the advisory firm Lazard Freres.

Dave Stephenson left Amazon for Airbnb


Airbnb

From 2015 to 2018, Airbnb’s CFO was famed Wall Street banker Laurence Tosi, whose vision for the company was reportedly at odds with that of CEO Brian Chesky.

Tosi’s replacement, named in November 2018, is Dave Stephenson, who joined Airbnb with 17 years at Amazon behind him. His most recent title was VP and CFO of its worldwide consumer organization.

In between stints at Amazon, Stephenson was also President and CFO of the mobile gaming company Big Fish Games. He also spent nearly 10 years at Procter & Gamble.

Former Cisco exec Kelly Steckelberg is at Zoom


Zoom

Kelly Steckelberg is CFO at Zoom, the video conference startup on the shortlist of possible 2019 IPOs.

Steckelberg joined Zoom in November 2017 after running Cisco’s competing WebEx division as CFO just a few years earlier.

In between her time at Zoom and Cisco, Steckelberg was CFO, chief operating officer and eventually CEO at an online dating company called Zoosk.

Merrill Lynch alum Nelson Chai runs things at Uber


LinkedIn

Nelson Chai, CFO at Uber, joined the company in August 2018 after a three-year search for the company’s next financial leader. The spot was left vacant when Brent Callinicos — an ex-Googler and current executive at Hyperloop — left the startup.

Chai, like others in the IPO-ready CFO cohort, has a history on Wall Street. He served as CFO of Merrill Lynch through its $50 billion merger with Bank of America. After that, he was CEO of the Warrant Group, an insurance and warranty provider based in Chicago.

Former Twitter and HP exec Todd Morgenfeld is at Pinterest


Pinterest

Pinterest CFO Todd Morgenfeld has deep experience at large public tech companies as well as in the world of finance. His longest stint was a nine-year run as a partner at the private equity firm Silver Lake, a major investor and acquirer in the technology space. He spent the next decade in finance roles in-house at tech companies. Before joining Pinterest in October 2016, Morgenfeld was vice president of finance at Twitter. He joined Twitter in 2015 under CFO Anthony Noto, a Wall Street veteran who left Twitter to run SoFi as CEO. He’s also spent time at Hewlett-Packard as senior vice president of treasury, financial analytics and corporate development.

PagerDuty’s Howard Wilson spent time at Oracle and Dynatrace


PagerDuty

Howard Wilson is CFO at PagerDuty, which has reportedly filed for an IPO confidentially with the SEC.

Wilson joined the company in June 2017 as chief commercial officer but took over as CFO in September 2018 as the company ramped up its efforts to go public.

Wilson spent more than 13 years at Oracle, and ended his time there as VP of sales operations in the Asia/Pacific region. From there he held multiple executive roles at Keynote Systems, and ran the private equity-held Dynatrace as general manager.

Serial CFO Burt Podbere is at CrowdStrike


CrowdStrike

Burt Podbere, CFO at the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, joined the company in September 2015 after years on both sides of the IPO process.

Before joining CrowdStrike, he was CFO are OpenDNS, another cybersecurity company which got acquired by Cisco in August 2015. He was also CFO for Net Optics, a networking company that got acquired by Ixia in 2013.

But it’s not all acquisitions. Podbere took Epocrates, a healthcare app, public in 2011 after dabbling around at other companies including cybersecurity heavy-weight Symantec.

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