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The four essential questions CEOs must ask before hiring a part time CFO

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Hiring a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a major decision that companies large and small must grapple with. CFOs play a number of critical strategic and operational roles within a growing business, including handling controllership duties and leading debt and equity capital raises. Despite their importance (or perhaps because of it), company management teams are often hesitant to bringing on a full time CFO. An increasingly popular solution revolves around hiring part time CFOs, either sourced through the company management’s existing personal networks or hired via networks of highly experienced CFOs.

 

Bringing on a CFO is a big decision for any company, and CEOs can benefit from asking themselves a series of basic questions as guideposts to inform the process:

Does your company need to hire a CFO at all?

While pre-series B companies can likely get by with an experienced accountant, companies at later stages of development should prioritize hiring a CFO. Even for earlier stage companies, it is still important to consider bringing on a part-time CFO sooner rather than later for a variety of reasons.

A CFO will provide the CEO with the financial information they need to make informed strategic decisions, manage a wide array of internal processes from HR to legal to compliance, and ensure that the books are properly kept, which facilitates funding rounds down the road.

While nearly all companies can benefit from the services of an experienced CFO, the exact need for a CFO will vary depending on the type of business:

  • For startupshiring a part-time CFO can serve as an important inflection point for the business’ growth, propelling the company through funding rounds and into the public markets or towards attractive acquisition offers.
  • For mid-sized businesses, a part-time CFO might be needed to temporarily replace an outgoing CFO, or to restructure the internal finance team in order to streamline reporting and increase operational efficiencies.
  • For portfolio companies of private equity and venture capital firms, a CFO will be required at all steps of the way to ensure that the portfolio company is able to keep up with the investment firm’s rigorous reporting requirements. Furthermore, having a seasoned CFO at the helm of the firm’s portfolio companies is essential for ensuring that the portfolio is being managed correctly for future exits, ultimately helping the investors hit their targets.

In sum, an experienced CFO can benefit different types businesses at nearly all stages in a company’s life cycle.

Should you hire a full or part-time CFO?

The CFO function is essential if a business ever hopes to make it to the next level, and hiring the right individual at the right time is of paramount importance for future growth and valuation. For a later stage company, having a full-time CFO on board is important for the purposes of leadership and management, although it may be overkill for smaller sized businesses. A talented full-time CFO often requires a significant salary and equity compensation package, and the search and selection process to find the right candidate can be prohibitively lengthy. Many businesses simply don’t need a full-time CFO yet, making it challenging to justify the time and capital required to hire one.

Luckily for the shrewd business owner, hiring a full-time CFO isn’t the only answer. For companies seeking immediate financial guidance, hiring an interim or fractional CFO is a great solution to get the company into better financial shape without committing to a full-time CFO. CEOs have two primary avenues for finding an experienced part-time CFO:

  • Tapping into their personal networks to see if any former CFOs would be willing to work on an interim basis
  • Hiring experienced fractional or part-time CFOs through a freelance network

While the former option offers the comfort of knowing the potential hire in question, looking to freelance networks vastly increases the size of your candidate pool, which leads to significant advantages in terms of the quality of experience, the speed of hiring, and the candidate’s flexibility around the specific work arrangement and employment dates.

However, outsourced hiring is not without drawbacks. The primary risk associated with outsourcing hires to an external network is quality, so it’s important to ensure that whatever freelance network you do use carefully vets their candidates beforehand. Given the trend of elite finance professionals migrating over to the freelance economy, you’ll find that the networks that do perform rigorous screening can open up your business to talented finance professionals with deep industry experience and a wide contact network that would otherwise be hard to find. When compared to looking within your personal network, hiring through this channel maximizes your chances of finding the most qualified professional possible to help your business grow and succeed.

What can you expect a part-time CFO do for your business?

Part-time CFOs contribute to companies in essentially the same way a full-time CFO can. Some of the sample duties of fractional or part-time CFOs include:

  • Managing AR and AP
  • Improving internal processes, achieving full legal and tax compliance and automating processes wherever possible
  • Developing internal forecasts and budget plans through financial modeling
  • Preparing materials for the board and investors
  • Interfacing with bankers and other potential sources of investment

The exact function of the CFO will vary a bit depending on the size and nature of the business. At smaller companies, a part-time CFO will typically act as a Swiss Army knife, handling traditional CFO functions while also overseeing a variety of business functions ranging from legal to HR to corporate governance. At a larger company, the responsibilities of CFOs will remain in the traditional domain of corporate finance teams.

CFOs at the portfolio companies of venture capital and private equity firms must be able to tailor their reporting for their respective owners. For example, CFOs for venture capital portfolio companies will focus on reporting growth metrics, while CFOs for private equity-backed companies will be focused on cash flow metrics.

The primary difference between the function of a part-time CFO and a full-time CFO revolves around the CFO’s impact on management and culture. For mid-sized and smaller businesses, many of the functions of a CFO can be done on a part-time basis and can even be completed while working remotely. A business may want to consider hiring a full-time CFO once their organization has scaled to the point that their CFO would be managing dozens of individuals on-site.

Do you need to prepare your business for the start of a part-time CFO?

Part-time CFOs typically have years of experience in their role and are skilled operators when it comes to joining new teams, quickly acclimating to new business environments, and executing the specific duties within their mandate.

That said, businesses can take a variety of steps to make sure they get the most out of their engagement with a part-time CFO. Prior to onboarding a part-time CFO, companies can prepare all tasks that less experienced personnel would be able to handle. For example, migrating the company’s financials to an accounting system like QuickBooks. This will free the part-time CFO up to immediately dig in and spend their time on high-impact initiatives, such as building out the internal finance team, connecting with investors, analyzing bolt-on acquisition opportunities, and developing exit strategies.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that CFOs serve as important strategic and operational partners to CEOs, helping the CEO understand the business’ direction and future prospects while also preparing the business for investor and board presentations. While choosing the correct CFO can be a critical and costly decision, CEOs can mitigate this risk by hiring a part-time CFO. This allows for a test run for a full time hire without the associated costs and equity investment. Given the high quality of talent on freelance CFO platforms, you can sleep well knowing that an experienced fractional CFO is leading your company’s finances.

source: https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/10/06/four-essential-questions-ceos-must-ask-hiring-part-time-cfo/#.tnw_6rL7mpQ9

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Samsung CEO embarrassed by the Galaxy Fold fiasco, he “pushed it through before it was ready”

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The Samsung Galaxy Fold is perpetually coming soon. The Korean company issues a new press release or has an exec do an interview every few weeks reiterating in vague language that the launch is still on, and it will happen sooner rather than later. But time keeps passing and the Fold is still nowhere to be seen in stores.

Samsung co-CEO DJ Koh has now told The Independent that he admits he “missed something on the foldable phone”, but the company is in the process of recovery. At the moment more than 2,000 prototypes are being extensively tested so that no new issues will arise.

DJ Koh, Samsung Electronics co-CEO

DJ Koh, Samsung Electronics co-CEO

Koh earnestly confesses that “it was embarrassing. I pushed it through before it was ready”. He didn’t go into more detail – like whether Huawei announcing the Mate X had anything to do with the rushing of the Fold to the market, but we can of course infer that. Then again, seeing what happened to the Fold, Huawei has also decided to push back the release of the Mate X by around three months, which should be coming in September.

Koh is adamant that the Galaxy Fold hasn’t been canceled and will indeed launch… at some point. He didn’t reveal a specific release date, only saying it will be out “in due course.” “Give us a bit more time,” he continued. “The last couple of weeks I think we defined all of the issues and all of the problems we couldn’t find [before sending to reviewers].”

Source: https://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_ceo_embarrassed_by_the_galaxy_fold_fiasco_admits_he_pushed_it_through_before_it_was_ready-news-37880.php

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Russian Gamer Brothers Are the Newest Hidden Billionaires

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Russian-born Igor and Dmitry Bukhman are seeking growth to challenge Tencent and Activision.

Almost two decades ago, in a remote Russian city best known for its butter and linen, two brothers shared a bedroom and a Pentium 100-powered computer they used to code their first game.

Wall Street wants a piece of what they’ve built since.

Playrix has met with some of the biggest banks “and visited their skyscrapers,” said Dmitry Bukhman, 34, citing meetings with dealmakers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. For now, though, “we are focused on growing the business.”

He and Igor Bukhman, 37, are the brains behind Playrix Holding Ltd., the creator of popular games similar to Candy Crush, including Fishdom and Gardenscapes, with more than 30 million daily users from China to the U.S. and annual sales of $1.2 billion, according to Newzoo. That makes the company one of the top 10 iOS and Google Play app developers by revenue, data from researcher AppAnnie show, putting Playrix in the same league as Tencent Holdings Ltd., NetEase Inc. and Activision Blizzard Inc.

Playrix Mobile Gaming Founders Dmitri And Igor Bukhman
Igor, left, and Dmitri Bukhman in Tel Aviv.Photographer: Corinna Kern/Bloomberg

Today, each brother is worth about $1.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. They haven’t previously appeared in a global wealth ranking.

Their road to riches started in 2001 in the city of Vologda, almost 300 miles (483 kilometers) north of Moscow, where Igor learned from a university professor that he could sell software online. He decided to try with Dmitry, who was still in high school at the time.

“We had no experience, no business understanding whatsoever—everything we could imagine was writing games,” Igor said.

The U.S. is Playrix’s biggest market, followed by China and Japan, the brothers said in a recent interview in Tel Aviv, where they spend some of their time. The two remotely manage about 1,100 employees, including personnel at its Ireland headquarters and developers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

“For $3 billion we won’t sell”

The brothers’ first product was a game akin to Xonix in which players must use a cursor to open pieces of a hidden picture before being struck by flying balls. They wrote it during a summer break and generated $60 in the first month and later $100 a month, about half of the average salary in Vologda.

“We thought, ‘If one game makes $100, we can write several dozen of them and make a lot of money,”’ Igor said.

Their second game, featuring an animated character designed by an outsourced artist, brought in $200 a month. Their copycat of Tetris brought in $700 a month, but the brothers shut that down after learning that the game was protected by a license. In 2004, when the business reached $10,000 of monthly revenue, they registered a legal entity, rented space for an office in the basement of a book warehouse and hired other staff to accelerate production.

In the early years, they sold casual games through sites such as majorgeeks.com or download.com, before moving to bigger platforms like Yahoo! and AOL. Then, within the past decade, games started moving first to Facebook and then smartphones. Many of them were available for free, with users paying only for certain in-game features.

Playrix makes most of its money from in-app purchases and the brothers mostly shun advertising, which detracts from the user experience. Ads generate less than 3 percent of revenue, Dmitry said.

relates to Russian Gamer Brothers Are the Newest Hidden Billionaires
GardenscapesSource: Playrix

“It was a major challenge for us to switch to developing free-to-play games—that’s totally different DNA,” Dmitry said. “Free-to-play games aren’t games that you develop, release and move on to making another one. They are services that need to be supported constantly as users are waiting for regular updates.”

Playrix succeeded in this transition, achieving worldwide recognition over the past three years with Gardenscapes and its sequel, Homescapes, a new variety of match-3 puzzle in which a player completes rows of at least three elements to pass levels and progress through an animated storyline—in this case, helping a butler named Austin renovate a house with a garden.

“Austin engages in dialog with you, you help him to select ways to decorate the mansion, you dive into the history of this character and become related with him,” Dmitry said. “This genre variety we introduced—match-3 with meta game—became very successful, and other companies started copying us.”

“Playrix is certainly responsible for the first major innovation in the match-3 genre since King Digital Entertainment Plc seemingly had the market locked down with Candy Crush,” said Newzoo analyst Tom Wijman. “Playrix managed to add a layer of complexity and ‘meta game’ to the match-3 genre without driving away casual mobile players.”

The company employs several full-time script writers who work on Austin’s dialog, and it’s always improving the games, Dmitry said.

“It’s like apps, like Spotify—people can use them for years,” he said. “More and more people are getting accustomed that it’s perfectly normal. Why not pay $5 to get pleasure from playing a game on a smartphone rather than watching videos or listening to music?”

relates to Russian Gamer Brothers Are the Newest Hidden Billionaires
HomescapesSource: Playrix

While Playrix hasn’t introduced a new title since 2017, the company recently acquired several gaming studios to expand into new genres, Igor said, declining to disclose which studios until it releases games developed by them later this year.

Successful titles attract whales. Activision Blizzard acquired King Digital in 2015 for $5.9 billion, and a year later Tencent led investors in an  $8.6 billion deal to acquire a majority stake in “Clash of Clans” maker Supercell Oy.

Could Playrix be next? In February, the Information reported that it could be sold for $3 billion, citing Chinese firms iDreamSky Technology Holdings and FunPlus Game Co. as potential suitors.

The brothers dismissed the report.

“For $3 billion we won’t sell,” Dmitry said with a smile, while acknowledging that Playrix had been discussing strategic options as recently as last year, noting its meetings with Wall Street banks.

Their goal, for now, is to become a “top-tier gaming company,” that rivals Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts in the West, and NetEase Inc. and Tencent in China, Igor said.

“We want to grow as big as they are, using developer talent from our region—the former USSR and Eastern Europe,” he said.

There’s no magic number that would compel the Bukhmans to sell the company, because they say money is secondary to doing what they love.

“Some may think that when you have a lot of money, everything becomes different and more interesting, you start doing different things,” Dmitry said. “But no. We just keep working.”

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Boeing working on software update to boost safety, says CEO

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Boeing’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dennis Muilenburg said  the aircraft manufacturer is taking actions to ensure the safety of its 737 Max jets in the wake of two crashes that killed 346 people.

In an open letter addressed to airlines, passengers and the aviation community, Muilenburg said Boeing will soon release a software update and offer related pilot training for the 737 Max to “address concerns” that arose in the aftermath of October’s Lion Air flight that plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189.The planes’ new flight-control software is suspected of playing a role in the crashes.

Muilenburg said Boeing representatives are supporting investigation into the cause of last week’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 that killed 157.The United States and many other countries have grounded the Max 8s and larger Max 9s as Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes in less than five months.

The letter reads: “We know lives depend on the work we do, and our teams embrace that responsibility with a deep sense of commitment every day.

“Our purpose at Boeing is to bring family, friends and loved ones together with our commercial airplanes—safely.

“The tragic losses of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 affect us all, uniting people and nations in shared grief for all those in mourning.

“Our hearts are heavy, and we continue to extend our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the passengers and crew on board.

“On safety measures, he said: “Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone.

“This overarching focus on safety spans and binds together our entire global aerospace industry and communities.

“We’re united with our airline customers, international regulators and government authorities in our efforts to support the most recent investigation, understand the facts of what happened and help prevent future tragedies.

“Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we’re taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX. We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet’s grounding.

“Work is progressing thoroughly and rapidly to learn more about the Ethiopian Airlines accident and understand the information from the airplane’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders.

“Our team is on-site with investigators to support the investigation and provide technical expertise. The Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau will determine when and how it’s appropriate to release additional details.

“Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years and we’ll continue providing the best products, training and support to our global airline customers and pilots.

“This is an ongoing and relentless commitment to make safe airplanes even safer. Soon we’ll release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident.

“We’ve been working in full cooperation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board on all issues relating to both the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines accidents since the Lion Air accident occurred in October last year.

“Our entire team is devoted to the quality and safety of the aircraft we design, produce and support. I’ve dedicated my entire career to Boeing, working shoulder to shoulder with our amazing people and customers for more than three decades, and I personally share their deep sense of commitment.

“Recently, I spent time with our team members at our 737 production facility in Renton, Wash., and once again saw first-hand the pride our people feel in their work and the pain we’re all experiencing in light of these tragedies.

“The importance of our work demands the utmost integrity and excellence—that’s what I see in our team, and we’ll never rest in pursuit of it.

“Our mission is to connect people and nations, protect freedom, explore our world and the vastness of space, and inspire the next generation of aerospace dreamers and doers—and we’ll fulfill that mission only by upholding and living our values. That’s what safety means to us.

“Together, we’ll keep working to earn and keep the trust people have placed in Boeing.”

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