The Job of a CFO at a Scaling Company | Sarah Friar (CFO of Square) & Jason Child (CFO of Opendoor)

by Y Combinator6/20/2017

Anu Hariharan, YC Partner on the Continuity Fund, sat down with Sarah Friar and Jason Child to dig into the job of a CFO at a scaling company.

Topics discussed:

Look for a strategic partner in your CFO. You shouldn’t think about who you need today, you should think about who you will need in the near future. Break bread, determine if you’d be able to work with this person and respectfully disagree in the heat of an IPO. Look for someone who is the yin to your yang.

Is there an ideal time to hire a CFO? You shouldn’t just look at your finance function to make this decision. You should generally be looking at the skillset of your executive team, and if a CFO with a particular skillset makes sense for where you’re going, then it might be the right time.

Don’t hire a CFO before you’ve truly reached product market fit: A CFO’s job is to look around corners try and figure out things that can go wrong. If you are still trying to get the product right, a CFO (and also a general counsel) might scare you out of risks you should be taking.

Great tips on nailing business metrics? As an example in 1999, Amazon had competitive intelligence, analytics and metrics roll up into Finance group, and were essentially the truth-seeking group that plugged into all areas of the organization. This helped them really focus and understand what was happening in the business.

Tips on fundraising? The key thing for the finance team is learning how to forecast well. Employ curiosity to get your arms around any metrics you don’t understand.

When to IPO? From our panelists’ perspective, it really really depends. Watch to hear them discuss some of the considerations.

This panel was recorded at The Scaleup Offsite, an event for growth-stage CEOs hosted by Y Combinator Continuity and Greylock Partners.


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