News & Press: National News

The Morning Ledger: Qualified CFOs are Unicorns’ Unicorns

Tuesday, May 28, 2019  
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Tatyana Shumsky | The Wall Street Journal

May 24, 2019

 

 

Credit Karma CEO Kenneth Lin, left, and finance chief Joe Kauffman are expected to bring the company public as soon as this year. Mr. Kauffman is a rare bird among CFOs: He’s helped two other startups go public.PHOTO: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Good morning. Silicon Valley has a problem that new technology can’t solve:not enough qualified CFOs. As more startups turn into large, complex firms, many are looking to hire a finance chief who can impose financial discipline and bring a new level of managerial expertise.
The problem: Candidates who check all the boxes are in short supply, executives and recruiters tell CFO Journal. A successful candidate must have experience dealing with investors and lenders, taking companies public, knowledge of tech-specific regulations and accounting practices, and the tolerance to work punishing hours for a growing, cash-burning enterprise.
The lack of capable or willing CFO candidates is particularly acute among businesses on the cusp of unicorn status. Most unicorns have filled the role, leaving the swelling ranks of up-and-comers to battle for a smaller pool of candidates. That said, some of the biggest Silicon Valley companies—including Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc.—have struggled to hire or retain executive finance talent.
Competition for highly skilled candidates is adding to upward pressure on compensation at a time when salaries of finance executives are rising. Pay packages at late-stage startups, which often include stock options, are contributing to a frothiness that is causing even established companies to loosen purse strings to recruit or retain finance executives, recruiters say.

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